What Are Giant Sets in Weight Training?

A well-structured strength plan can be the holy grail of fat loss.

Not only does it burn calories and boost energy expenditure, it helps to build muscle too.

In this article we take a look at one of the most hard-hitting, fat-annihilating workouts around – giant sets. 

If you’re here looking for a training method that’ll build more muscle, shred excess fat and pump up your heart rate like a sprint session, you’re in the right place.

You’d better bring your A game and a ton of resilience for this one.


What Are Giant Sets?

There are hundreds of different weight lifting systems, methods and protocols.

Some are built around volume and some allow you to manipulate weight. Others slash away at rest times and some force you to use specialized equipment to ramp up muscle gains.

Giant sets weight training is all about volume. Its an advanced strength training system used to shock your muscles into more growth. But at the same time maximizing fat burning.

You’ll increase muscle quality, density and size while at the same time torching calories and boosting cardio fitness.

When it comes to all-over body composition and stamina, giant sets weight training is one of the best.

How Do You Perform Giant Sets?

There’s a fair bit of flexibility when it comes to giant sets weight training protocols. To a degree, you can choose the exercises you like best and you can switch your program around based on what suits you best.

But there are a few general rules to follow.

Pick 4 or more exercises for the same muscle 

You might be familiar with agonist supersets where the aim is to perform two exercises for the same muscle group back to back.

You might’ve even tried a tri-set where you crank out three exercises.

Giant sets weight training pushes the boundaries by forcing you to go the extra mile and complete at least four exercises for the same muscle without any rest.

That’s tough.

Vary the stimulus

Don’t just pick slight variations on the same exercise – make sure you vary the angle, equipment and position to give your target muscle a complete annihilation experience.

For example, don’t just play around with triceps extension when you can also throw in narrow presses, skullcrushers, overhead work, push-downs and press-ups.

The more varied the stimulus, the better.

Get familiar with different exercises

The only way giant sets weight training will work is if you know enough exercises per muscle group to plan an effective workout.

If your knowledge of strength training is currently limited to bench press, bicep curl and ab crunch then spend some time researching different exercises.

It’ll definitely benefit you in the long run.

Don’t hang around; plan in advance

Much like supersets, the idea is to move seamlessly from one exercise to the next. And the only way you’ll achieve this is by planning each exercise in advance.

Grab the bars and dumbbells you need, choose the right weights and set everything up within distance. That way you can finish one exercise and then go straight into the next one.

It’ll stop anyone from stealing the equipment you need and leaving you high and dry.


Female athlete in pink sportswear using battle ropes in the gym


What Are the Benefits of Giant Sets?

Giant sets equals giant muscle growth and fat loss gains.

Here’s an outline of the main benefits this workout protocol has to offer.

Muscle building

One of the most important factors in muscle growth is load-volume. Complete enough sets to fatigue during your workout and you’ll stimulate muscle protein synthesis – the birth of new muscle cells.

Studies currently show that high-intensity workouts are superior for muscle growth [1]. And that’s exactly what giant sets provide – not only heavy weights, but for high volume too.

Giant sets are a great way of completing all of the necessary sets you need to spark new growth in a time-efficient way.

There’s no effort wasting. It’s just you against the iron in the race to victory.

Ramps up metabolic rate

Because you’re moving from one exercise to next fast, you’re burning more calories and energy than normal. This is heightened by the fact that you aren’t resting between these exercises either.

Your heart is pumping, your body temperature is soaring and your heart feels like it’s ready to burst from your chest.

It’s basically cardio, but with weights instead of a treadmill.

Shreds fat

Giant set weight training a huge and potent metabolic effect.

And it’s this increase in energy expenditure that can help shift your body into a negative energy balance and start shredding away at your excess body fat.

Not only dies it burn a massive amount of calories during the workout, it also continues to burn fat afterwards too – via a process called the afterburn effect, or to give it it’s scientific name – excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

One study found that when a group of healthy men took part in a 31-minute giant sets training workout, their EPOC was elevated for a full 48-hours after training [2].

This was with a 4 exercise workouts using 8-12 reps per exercise. They performed 4 sets of each exercise, separated with only 2 minutes rest between each circuit.

Builds endurance

When you’ve got so much blood pumping around your body you’d be forgiven for forgetting that you’re getting a potent cardio stimulus.

For example, a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise [3] found that when you take part in heavy resistance training, not only does your strength increase; your cardio does too.

Specifically, circuit-style approaches such as giant sets have shown strength improvements of 20-45% and cardio improvements of 15%.

It’s also been shown to be a safe way of boosting endurance too, even in higher-risk groups.


Sample Giant Sets Training Plan

This program is based on a 3-day workout split and covers all of your major muscle groups.

Each giant set workout contains two separate giant sets. The idea is to complete 3 sets in total for all 4 exercises labelled as A, resting no more than 2 minutes between sets.

Once you’ve completed all 3 sets you’ll then repeat using all exercises under B.

Chest and biceps: Day 1

NumberExercise Reps
A1Dumbbell incline press8-12
A2Flat dumbbell press8-12
A3Press-ups8-12
A4Dumbbell flyes8-12
B1EZ bicep curl8-12
B2Dumbbell incline curl8-12
B3Neutral grip chins8-12
B4Dumbbell hammer grip spider curl8-12

Shoulders and legs: Day 2

NumberExercise Reps
A1Standing military press8-12
A2Dumbbell lateral raise8-12
A3Snatch grip upright row8-12
A4Dumbbell rear delt flyes8-12
B1Back squat8-12
B2Dumbbell back lunges8-12
B3Leg press8-12
B4Lying leg curl8-12

Back and triceps: Day 3

NumberExercise Reps
A1Lat pulldown8-12
A2Narrow grip seated row8-12
A3Straight arm pulldown8-12
A4Single arm row8-12
B1Narrow bench press8-12
B2EZ skullcrusher8-12
B3Rope extension8-12
B4Kettlebell overhead extension8-12

References

  1. Mangine, GT et al. The effect of training volume and intensity on improvements in muscular strength and size in resistance-trained men. Physiol. Rep. 2015; 3(8): e12472
  2. Schuenke, MD et al. Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2002; 86(5): 411-417
  3. Stewart, KJ. Resistive training effects on strength and cardiovascular endurance in cardiac and coronary prone patients. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989; 21(6): 678-82
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