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Giant sets in strength training: what are they are & what are the benefits?

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Make your muscles burn with this targeted muscle-building technique. 

Giant sets may sound intimidating, but don’t be fooled by the name. They’re actually a really simple tool you can add into your training to supercharge your workouts. 

Along with supersets, pyramid sets and drop sets, giant sets are used as a way to fire up your muscles while keeping your workouts interesting. 

What are giant sets?

Giant sets are when you perform a large number of exercises back to back without a rest. Like a superset, only with four to six exercises rather than two. 

“A giant set is often confused for a circuit, but it’s a little bit more specific than that,” says Veowna. Rather than just creating a circuit of squats, presses and swings, “all of the exercises you chose for your giant set should hit one muscle group at a time. You might have a giant set just focused on shoulders or one just for your legs,” she explains. 

For example, a giant set for your shoulders would include four to six exercises targeting different areas of your shoulders performed back to back. Think Arnold press, lat raise, rear delt flys and upright rows. You’d rest for a minute, then repeat three to five times. 

What are the benefits of giant sets?

“Giant sets are just a great variation on your usual strength and conditioning training,” says Veowna. “Whether you’re goal is to build strength, hypertrophy or endurance, you can use giant sets.”

It all comes down to volume. By making one body part complete so many reps, you’ll be increasing the load that muscle is under. While there aren’t many studies focusing on giant sets per se, a 2013 paper from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that increasing volume improves both strength and muscle size. 

“To make it suitable for you, just change up the rep scheme and the amount of weight that you’re using,” Veowna adds. So if strength is your goal, complete your giant sets in the five-rep range, eight to 12 for hypertrophy and 15+ for endurance.

Veowna also explains that they’re a great way to get the most out of your session without spending hours in the gym. “Plus, they’re a way to challenge your body and mix up your training – something we all need every so often,” she adds. 

Want to build strength? Sign up to the Strong Women Training Club for workout videos, tips and tutorials.

Images: Getty

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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