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Build Giant Shoulders With Giant Sets

Can routines made up entirely of giant sets lead to giant gains?

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  • 45 mins

  • 5

  • Yes

The 45-Minute Workout
Pavel Ythjall
The 45-Minute Workout
Pavel Ythjall

Stacking your favorite exercises together can lead to favorable results. This is likely something you’ve experienced by experimenting with supersets—when you perform two exercises back to back with no rest in between. Giant sets take things a step (or four) further by combining four or more exercises into what is, in effect, one extended set.

“Going giant” has long been a way of upping workout intensity, but for some lifters it’s more of a training philosophy. For extended periods, you can enjoy consistent gains by making giant sets the main focus of your routines.

More Giant-Set Content: Giant-Set Basics & Tips

Going giant

First, let’s define some terms. A superset consists of a set of two exercises paired together, performed without rest; a triset is the same thing but with three exercises. A giant set consists of four or more exercises. Those lifts can be for the same body part (such as quadriceps) or neighboring body parts (quads, hams, glutes). Generally speaking, the more exercises you perform, the more diverse they should be. A lower-body giant set might consist of leg extensions, front squats, leg presses, leg curls, and lunges, thus combining isolation exercises (leg extensions, leg curls) with compound exercises (front squats, leg presses, lunges), all while hitting quads, hams, and glutes in the same sequence.

Done correctly, with no pause between subsets, giant sets are an exhausting yet effective way to recruit more muscle fibers and flush your muscles with blood. It’s difficult to keep your intensity up throughout an array of lifts, though, and, what’s more, it can be a logistical challenge to jump from station to station without rest in a crowded gym. While you’re doing leg extensions or squats, someone might jump on the leg press, while someone else occupies the only leg curl machine. Those are the main reasons why giant sets are rarely performed for anything but abs. If done at all, most lifters use them as an occasional means of increasing intensity. However, there are some who use them on a regular basis—mainly bodybuilders.

We don’t recommend giant sets as a yearlong strategy, but for extended periods of six to eight weeks they can shock you into greater gains and have been known to subtract body fat while adding muscle. If you choose to implement this strategy, then be sure to allow for at least a day, ideally 48 hours, of rest among body parts. The high-volume barrage will leave you with a serious case of delayed onset muscle soreness. But hit it hard for a few weeks, and you can expect to see giant gains.

*Note: Rest as little as possible between exercises. Aim for two to four minutes between giant sets. Perform giant set 3 or 4 times.

Routine

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Giant-Set Shoulder Workout

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 5

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
--
Reps
10-12
Rest
--
Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
--
Reps
10-12
Rest
--
Exercise 3 of 5

Dumbbell Front Raise

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
--
Reps
10-12
Rest
--
*Perform with a barbell instead of dumbbells.
Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
--
Reps
10-12
Rest
--
Exercise 5 of 5

Barbell Upright Row

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
--
Reps
10-12
Rest
--
*Use a wide grip.
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