Drop Sets, Super Sets, Giant Sets: Techniques for Lifters

Written by the Boostcamp staff
Jan 22,2024|18 min| 3955

Drop Sets, Super Sets, Giant Sets: Techniques for Lifters

Different sets for massive gains

As a lifter, you're always looking for ways to maximize your results, break plateaus, and push your body to the next level so you can add the desired muscle size, mass, and strength. Drop sets, super sets, and giant sets are three intensity techniques that can help you achieve just that. This article will delve into each of these methods, their benefits, drawbacks, and address ten common questions. Lifters have been incorporating drop sets into their training routines for years in order to “chase the pump” and build muscle. One popular variation of drop sets involves taking a set to failure and with no rest, “dropping” the weight, performing an additional set to failure with a lighter weight, and repeating two to four times. This technique, known as drop sets with a lighter weight, is highly effective for muscle growth and increasing strength.

The goal is to maximize potential muscle gain and incorporate progressive overload into your workout plan, creating more metabolic stress on your muscles, which will in turn result in size and strength gains.

By the end, you'll be equipped with the knowledge to incorporate these techniques into your workout routine and make gains like never before.

Drop Sets

What are Drop Sets?

Drop sets are a technique where you perform an exercise to failure (or close to it), then immediately reduce the weight and continue the exercise until failure again. This process can be repeated multiple times, with each "drop" in weight signifying a new set.

Why Do Drop Sets?

Drop sets are an effective way to promote muscle growth by increasing the time under tension and targeting different muscle fiber types. By pushing your muscles to failure at various weights, you create a more significant stimulus for muscle growth and strength development.

Drop Set Examples

Example 1: Bicep Curls

  1. Perform 30 lbs dumbbell bicep curls with a weight you can lift for 8-10 reps until you reach failure or near failure.

  2. Immediately reduce the weight to 20 lbs and continue bicep curls until failure.

  3. Immediately reduce the weight to 15 lbs and continue bicep curls until failure.

Example 2: Leg Press

  1. Perform leg press with a weight you can lift for 10-12 reps until you reach failure or near failure.

  2. Immediately reduce the weight by 20-30% and continue leg press until near failure.

  3. Immediately reduce the weight by 20-30% and continue leg press until near failure.

  4. Repeat this process for 1-2 more drops if desired.

Pros of Drop Sets

  • Increases training intensity and time under tension, leading to enhanced muscle growth.

  • Can help break through plateaus by targeting different muscle fiber types.

  • Allows you to fatigue a muscle group quickly, making it ideal for short, intense workouts.

Cons of Drop Sets

  • May increase the risk of injury if not done correctly or if proper form is not maintained.

  • Not recommended for beginners, as it requires a strong foundation of strength and proper technique.

  • May not be suitable for all exercises, particularly those requiring high levels of skill or balance.

Super Sets

What are Super Sets?

Super sets are a training technique where you perform two different exercises back-to-back with little rest in between. These exercises can either target the same muscle group (e.g., bicep curls followed by hammer curls) or opposing muscle groups, like a push/pull type of deal (e.g., bench press followed by bent-over rows). Different types of supersets focus on certain goals. Supersets are a great way to increase the intensity of your workout and challenge your muscles in new ways. They are a great way to increase the difficulty of your workouts and overload your muscles to promote greater gains. This technique helps to increase the intensity of your workout and challenge your muscles in new ways, ultimately leading to increased hypertrophy in your target muscles.

Why Do Super Sets?

Super sets increase training intensity by reducing rest periods and increasing the work done in a shorter amount of time. This approach can lead to improved muscular endurance, increased calorie burn, and enhanced muscle growth.

Super Set Examples

Example 1: Chest and Back

  1. Perform a set of bench press targeting your chest muscles.

  2. With minimal rest, perform a set of bent-over rows targeting your back muscles.

  3. Rest for 60-90 seconds and repeat the super set for your desired number of sets.

Example 2: Biceps and Triceps

  1. Perform a set of bicep curls targeting your biceps.

  2. With minimal rest, perform a set of tricep dips targeting your triceps.

  3. Rest for 60-90 seconds and repeat the super set for your desired number of sets.

Pros of Super Sets

  • Increases workout intensity and time efficiency.

  • Enhances muscle growth and endurance by increasing the volume of work done.

  • Can help improve cardiovascular fitness due to the reduced rest periods.

Cons of Super Sets

  • May not be suitable for those focusing on maximal strength development.

  • Increased risk of injury if proper form is not maintained or if exercises are performed with inadequate rest and recovery.

  • Can be challenging for beginners or those with lower fitness levels.

Giant Sets

What are Giant Sets?

Giant sets involve performing four or more exercises targeting the same muscle group or multiple muscle groups in quick succession, with minimal rest between each exercise. This technique aims to increase training intensity and volume, stimulating muscle growth and improving muscular endurance.

Why Do Giant Sets?

Giant sets allow you to push your muscles to their limits, creating a high level of metabolic stress and muscle fatigue. This can lead to increased muscle growth and improved overall conditioning. Moreover, weight training in general is necessary in burning fat because it stimulates the growth of lean muscle tissue, which in turn increases metabolism. The high intensity of giant sets can result in a more significant calorie burn, aiding in fat loss. However, if you're not accustomed to doing supersets, you'll notice an increased level of intensity in each workout as compared to straight sets. This increased intensity can help boost growth hormone levels following training sessions, thus further increasing muscle growth and stoking the fat-burning process.

Giant Set Examples

Example 1: Chest

  1. Perform a set of bench press.

  2. With minimal rest, perform a set of incline dumbbell press.

  3. With minimal rest, perform a set of push-ups.

  4. With minimal rest, perform a set of cable chest flyes.

  5. Rest for 90-120 seconds and repeat the giant set for your desired number of sets.

Example 2: Legs

  1. Perform a set of squats.

  2. With minimal rest, perform a set of leg press.

  3. With minimal rest, perform a set of walking lunges.

  4. With minimal rest, perform a set of lying leg curls.

  5. Rest for 90-120 seconds and repeat the giant set for your desired number of sets.

Pros of Giant Sets

  • Maximizes workout intensity and volume, promoting muscle growth and endurance.

  • Increases calorie burn, aiding in fat loss.

  • Ideal for advanced lifters looking to challenge their limits and push through plateaus.

Cons of Giant Sets

  • Not recommended for beginners due to the high level of intensity and complexity.

  • May increase the risk of injury if not performed with proper form or adequate restbetween sets.

  • Can be challenging to maintain proper technique as fatigue sets in.

Super Sets, Drop Sets, and Giant Sets Frequently Asked Questions

Are these intensity techniques suitable for beginners?

Drop sets, super sets, and giant sets are generally more appropriate for intermediate and advanced lifters. Beginners should focus on building a solid foundation of strength and technique before attempting to add these advanced methods into their program.

How often should I incorporate these techniques into my training program?

You can use these techniques sparingly to add variety to your workouts or target specific muscle groups. It's essential not to overuse them, as they can lead to overtraining and potential injuries. You also want to really focus on the mind-muscle connection with a lot of movements, rather than the volume or intensity you are doing. Make sure to leave at least a day's rest between sessions to give your muscles enough time to recover so that you can build new lean muscle mass as well as burning away your spare tyre.

Can I use these techniques for all exercises?

While many exercises can be adapted to drop sets, super sets, and giant sets, some exercises, particularly those requiring high levels of skill or balance, may not be suitable. Always prioritize proper form and safety when incorporating these techniques into your training.

Will these techniques help me break through plateaus?

Yes, these supersets, drop sets, and giant sets can help break through plateaus by providing a new stimulus for your muscles and increasing the overall training volume.

How do I know when to drop the weight in a drop set?

In a drop set, you should drop the weight when you reach muscular failure or cannot maintain proper form. This point will vary depending on the individual and the exercise being performed.

Can I combine drop sets, super sets, and giant sets in one workout?

While it's possible to combine these techniques in one workout, doing so may be excessively intense and increase the risk of injury. It's best to use these techniques sparingly and focus on a single technique per workout to maximize their benefits.

How much rest should I take between sets when performing these techniques?

Rest periods will vary depending on the technique being used and your fitness level. Generally, rest periods should be kept to a minimum to maintain the intensity of the workout. For drop sets, aim for little to no rest between drops. For super sets and giant sets, rest for 30-60 seconds between exercises.

Will these techniques help me lose fat?

While these techniques primarily focus on muscle growth and endurance, they can indirectly contribute to fat loss by increasing calorie burn during your workouts. However, it's essential to combine these intensity techniques with a proper diet and supplementation routine, as well as a solid overall training plan to effectively lose fat.

How do I know if these techniques are right for me?

Before incorporating these intensity techniques into your training, consider your current fitness level, goals, and experience. If you're an intermediate or advanced lifter looking to increase muscle growth, endurance, or break through plateaus, these techniques might be a great addition to your training. However, if you're a beginner or have specific limitations, consult with a fitness professional before attempting these techniques.

Any other workout set schemes to add?

Rest-Pause Sets:

Rest-pause sets involve performing a set of an exercise to failure or near failure, then resting for a short period (usually 10-20 seconds) before continuing with the same weight for additional reps. This brief rest allows your muscles to partially recover, enabling you to perform more reps and increase the overall training volume. Rest-pause sets can be especially useful for exercises where you find it challenging to increase the weight, such as isolation and accessory movements.

Forced Reps:

Forced reps are a technique best performed with a knowledgeable training partner or spotter. After reaching failure in a set of strength training, your partner assists you in completing a few additional reps by providing just enough support to help you lift the weight. This method allows you to push your muscles beyond their normal limits, stimulating growth and increasing training intensity. Be cautious when using forced reps, as improper form or excessive assistance can lead to injury and poor form. It is important to maintain proper form throughout your workout to avoid injuries and ensure effective muscle engagement. Progressively heavier weights are still the swoly grail of gains.

Negative Reps:

Negative reps focus on the eccentric (lowering) phase of an exercise, which has been shown to create significant muscle damage and stimulate growth. To perform negative reps, you'll need a spotter or training partner. Lift the weight through the concentric (lifting) phase, then slowly lower it back down, taking 3-5 seconds to complete the eccentric portion. Your partner can help you lift the weight back up if needed. By emphasizing the eccentric phase, you increase muscle tension and promote muscle growth. This technique should be used sparingly to avoid overtraining and excessive muscle soreness.

Where to Find a Program With Drop Sets, Super Sets, and Giant Sets

Are you ready to take your training to the next level with drop sets, super sets, and giant sets? Boostcamp is the ultimate app for lifters, offering free science-based workout plans for bodybuilding, powerbuilding, and powerlifting. The Boostcamp app is a top of the line workout app, that offers free science-based workout routines, advanced custom program builder, and a workout tracker to help you stay on top of your progress, and make sure that you are hitting your goals and getting where you need to go, so there is no reason to not make progress.

By using the Boostcamp App for your training routine, you'll have all the tools you need to develop a strong mind-muscle connection and break through plateaus, continuing to make progress. Download the Boostcamp App today and take your workouts to the next level!

Drop Sets, Super Sets, and Giant Sets Wrap Up

Overall, drop sets, super sets, and giant sets are great techniques for building muscle and can be incorporated into your training. While you do not need to do them every single exercise, it is good to periodically incorporate these techniques to shock the muscle and really force them to grow. Do not let your training get stagnant. However, you can increase the exercises involved by doing tri-sets (three moves) or even giant sets, where you knock out four moves in a row, such as a face pull, triceps extension, and a straight-arm pull-down.

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