Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Types of Workout Sets

How to use each of them, and for what

Whether you’re new to weight lifting or not, it is advised that every weight lifter knows about how to choose and apply different sets types in his/her workout sessions.

Arranging your workout according to your training goals is paramount for training effects to emerge, randomization has no place in smart planning! In addition to that; manipulation of sets, weights, exercises and repetitions from time to time is important to avoid accommodation or plateau.

For that, here we gathered a group of the most known types of sets, each with its purpose of use.


1) Straight sets

Straight seta (or sets system) means doing exercises in the old fashion way, performing all sets of each exercise one after another with rest in between. This system is used to apply maximum adaptive response for the trained muscles.


2) Super sets

In super sets you perform exercise set immediately after another exercise set, with no rest in between, only that required for taking the position of the second exercise.

Super sets allow you to perform more work in less time, they are especially useful if you have short time to spend in training, plus they can be used as a mean to increase training intensity due to less rest time.

Super sets can be categorized to the following:



  • Compound (or agonist) sets: in this you alternate between two exercises for the same muscle group (such as seated dips and triceps extension).


  • Tri-sets: using this type of sets, you do three exercises for the same muscle group with little rest in between.


  • Giant sets: if you perform 4 or more exercises of one muscle group this is called giant set.


3) Circuit sets

Circuit sets involve performing all workout exercises in succession with short rest in between, only that required for taking the new position. Circuits reduce workout time, and are great to increase stamina, muscle strength and muscle conditioning.


4) Pyramid training

When doing pyramid sets, you start your body part session with high reps and lighter weight, and then gradually increasing weight loads and reducing reps. (For example you do barbell upright row with 12 reps holding 30 kg, and then doing 10 reps with 35 kg, after those 8 reps 40 kg).

Pyramid sets allow for gradual increase in intensity (difficulty) and warm up of muscles as you go through your workout.


You might also be interested in learning these 12 proven ways to speed up recovery from training.


5) Drop sets

In drop sets you reduce weight lifted after each set when fatigue sets in, for example you do bench press with 50 kg, and when you fatigue and can’t do any more reps, you reduce weigh usually by 10% and so on until you finish your sets.

This way increases muscle endurance and allows for more reps to be done, while consuming your muscle strength to the last drop.

Stripping or (descending sets) are similar to drop sets, except that spotters reduce the weights for you, and hence no rest at all between sets.


6) Rest-pause training

Rest-pause sets allow you to do more reps with the same weight to increase muscle endurance. In this you do a set to failure, rest for about 10 seconds, and then do another set, rest, and so on for a total of 3 to 4 rest-pause circles. These short rest-pauses help in restoring ATPs in muscles, and partially flushing accumulated lactic acid.


7) Pre-Exhaustion principle

As the name implies; in pre-exhaustion technique you exhaust the targeted muscle with isolate exercise first, and then you perform a compound exercises.

Each progressive set incorporates additional muscles to aid the work of the muscle under focus. For example, do lying dumbbell fly (which is a chest isolate exercise) and then perform bench press (which works chest and triceps).

Another example for lower body part pre-exhaustion is to perform leg curls (hamstrings isolate exercise), followed by straight leg dead lifts (hamstrings and glutes) and then lungs (hamstrings, quads and glutes).

This way is used to induce more muscle hypertrophic growth, having that said; it isn’t advised for strength training beginners to avoid overtraining muscles, intermediates and advanced trainers can do it with caution to frequency.


Now go to workout plan builder to plan your sets the way best suits your training objectives. If you struggle with deciding how to design your personal exercise program, this article will help.

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