Giant Set for Shoulders

dumbbell press


I remember first trying the giant set when I first seriously started training when I was around 18 years old.

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I was training with a body builder who was absolutely huge! The thing I noticed about my old training partner at the time was his training style.

He would follow a steady routine for about 4 to 6 weeks and than all of a sudden he would do something totally different for about two weeks and than head back to his old routine.

What can I say, it worked. The training style was to cycle his old routine by breaking it up with a new and different approach to his training.

This way, his routine never got stale and he was actually allowing his body a break from the heavy training that was involved in his normal routine. One of his favourite, alternative training style was to use “giant sets” for two weeks. By using a giant set, you can't use the same weight that your used to but, you can greatly enhance the intensity of the exercise with this method.

Here was something we used to do. We would follow a routine of heavy compound training for about 6 to 8 weeks. After the 6th or 8th week, we would do 2 weeks of giant sets that allowed for a new angle of training. For example, here's a sample routine we used to do for shoulders:

The first thing we would do is do a total of 4 to 5 sets per exercise. With a giant set, you set out 3 to 4 exercises and you do them in consecutive fashion. For example, let's say we did the following for our shoulders:

• Dumbbell press
• Side lateral raise
• Bent over lateral raise
• Upright row

For our first set, we would do:

• One set of 10 repetitions with the dumbbell press followed immediately by;
• One set of 10 repetitions for the side lateral raise followed immediately by;
• One set of 10 repetitions for the bent over lateral raise followed immediately by;
• Once set of 10 repetitions for the upright row.

One cycle of these exercise is considered one “giant” set. We would do this cycle 3 to 4 more times for our complete shoulder workout. All in all, we performed about “16" total sets but only 4 “giant” sets. We used much lighter weights with this type of workout than we did for our usual routine because we physically couldn't use anymore. We used about 65% of our max for each and every giant set.

To tell you the truth, this workout caused me a lot of muscular pain. This workout really tested my will and commitment to weight training and building muscle. I will tell you right now, this workout will be the most painful and intense workout you will ever do. By the time the last giant set rolled around, I was seeing stars and had no feeling left in my shoulders.

It is for this reason, that you cannot follow this type of workout for any longer than 4 to 6 weeks at a time. We did it for only 2 weeks and that was enough to kick start whatever growth was needed. If you think you have what it takes to really take your training to the next level and start building some serious muscle, try the giant set.

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All the best,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

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