Giant sets are typically associated with those ’70s-era marathon bodybuilding workouts. This association isn’t unwarranted as those bodybuilders were in the gym six days a week, lifting heavy for hours and resting very little.
But these days giant sets are a great tool for saving you time in the gym while delivering major results. This week, I’m going to give you a workout that will take you no more than 30 minutes and will make your chesticles feel like they are going to swell up and explode.
Giant Sets: What and Why?
A giant set consists of four or more exercises paired together for a single muscle group without rest between exercises. This increases the intensity of the workout and places greater demands on the muscle fibers, which spikes production of growth hormone and IGF-1, drivers of muscle growth. The muscle is hit so hard from so many different angles, exercise-induced muscle damage results, you can’t help but become large and in charge.
Because this is a high-intensity technique, you should use it infrequently or for short periods to avoid overtraining.
Move from exercise to exercise as fast as possible. Take a rest interval of 5 minutes between giant sets (all four exercises).
Incline Bench Press
Setup: Lie on an incline bench and grasp the racked barbell with a slightly wider than shoulder-width grip, palms facing up. Lift the bar off the rack and raise it until your arms are fully extended.
Execution: Bend your elbows to lower the bar to your upper chest. At the bottom, your elbows should be away from your body but slightly in front of your shoulders. Contract your chest muscles and extend your elbows to press the bar up until your elbows are almost locked out.
Josh’s Notes: Many strength coaches consider the incline press their go-to exercise, and numerous bodybuilders credit this exercise with developing a robust upper chest. Start with your four rep max, do as many reps as possible (if you can do more than four, keep on trucking). On the second giant set, do the same thing. More than likely you will do less reps, but that doesn’t mean less effort. Go balls out!
Neutral-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press
Setup: Grasping two dumbbells, lie on a flat bench and turn your wrists so they face each other, hands at the side of your torso with the dumbbells above your body.
Execution: Press the dumbbells up, allowing them to naturally move toward each other at the top without touching. Reverse the move and return to the start position.
Josh’s Notes: Neutral grip simply means palms facing each other. This press angle is great for long-term shoulder health and hits the chest at a different angle. Perform this movement with your 8RM for both sets. If you can do more, go for it. If you do less, that’s fine, assuming you’re giving a full effort.
Setup: Connect two single-handle D-grips to the low pulleys of a cable crossover apparatus. Position the bench in the middle so the cables are in line with your chest. Lie on the bench, feet flat on the floor and your back pressed against the pad. Hold the handles with your arms straight out at your sides and your palms facing up. Maintain a slight bend in your elbows.
Execution: Use your pecs to bring the arms together over your chest until your hands meet, maintaining a slight bend in your elbows. Slowly return to the start position by lowering your arms back out to your sides with your wrists about shoulder level.
Josh’s Notes: Performed for 15 repetitions. I like cables because of the constant tension placed on the pecs through the entire movement. Hold the contracted position for one second. Use as much weight as possible, but lower the weight if needed after the first set because it’s important to achieve all repetitions.
Reverse-Grip Dumbbell Bench Press
Setup: Lie faceup on a bench with your back and head fully supported, feet flat on the floor. Grasp the bar with a shoulder-width reverse grip (palms facing you). Wrap your thumbs around the bar for safety. Your elbows will point forward at the start, instead of out to your sides as in the standard bench press.
Execution: Slowly lower the bar to your lower chest/upper abs, keeping your elbows tight to your body. Pause, then press the bar toward the ceiling in a slight arc using a smooth, controlled motion.
Josh’s Notes: Perform reverse-grip dumbbell bench press in a slow rhythmic style. Achieving all 40 reps is the purpose so focus on the mind-muscle connection and continuous tensions.
With very little time and maximum intensity, great results can be accomplished. This workout was inspired by mentor Fred Hatfield who used a similar approach while working with Lee Haney.
Enough talk! Time to hit the pig iron!
Josh Bryant, MS, CSCS, trains some of the strongest and most muscular athletes in the world at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and via the Internet. He is the co-author of Amazon #1 selling book, Jailhouse Strong. To learn more about Josh Bryant or to sign up for his free training tips newsletter, visit www.JoshStrength.com