Four or more consecutive exercises will challenge you to greater growth

July 4, 2008

Written by FLEX Staff

In an effort to maximize growth, experienced bodybuilders will utilize various shocking techniques to induce variety into their workouts and keep muscles progressing past plateaus. A favorite technique is using giant sets of four or more exercises for one bodypart, performed in rotation with little rest between sets. Normally, the giant set will be repeated three or four times, and that will consist of the entire workout for that particular bodypart.

According to 2000 NPC USA overall champion Bob Cicherillo, the most important factor is to choose exercises that hit the targeted bodypart from different angles in different ways. This means using modern technology to your advantage and choosing lifts that differ from each other as much as possible.

Cicherillo recommends 10- to 15-second intervals between exercises to regain strength, especially when going to or near failure. Even with a brief rest, the increased workout speed should allow a good muscle pump. The faster pace lends itself to relatively higher reps: 12-15 are recommended.

Giant sets are not suggested for beginners, and Cicherillo insists that they’re really for advanced bodybuilders with at least two years of training experience and a developed strength base. Because a full giant-set workout is designed to spark growth or shock a particular bodypart, the recommendation is to use a giant-set shock workout only once per month per bodypart. They are also ideal for focusing on a special section of a bodypart, such as the lower outer lats or upper inner chest.

Another reason for using giant-set workouts sparingly is if you use them too often, your muscles will become accustomed to them and they won’t be as effective at their shocking purpose. Done too frequently, giant sets can lead to overtraining, due to their increased intensity.

If used only occasionally, pumping out four exercises in a row with little rest between them will almost always catch your muscles by surprise. Here are some of Cicherillo’s favorite giant-set combinations. Do three or four full circuits of all the exercises with reps in the range of 12-15.

@ Choose four exercises that hit the targeted bodypart from different angles.
@ Giant sets should be done instead of your normal workout, not in addition to it.
@ Rest 10-15 seconds after each exercise.
@ For the most part, do three circuits during each giant set workout, but increase the shock value occasionally by doing four circuits.
@ To help add variety, do one giant-set session per large bodypart per month.
@ To shock a lagging bodypart, use giant sets every second workout for five weeks.