Advanced Techniques – Supersets, Trisets and Giant Sets + Examples

Advanced techniques are specially designed set, rep, or exercise schemes that you can use to increase the intensity of your workout. You can introduce a whole new meaning of the word “intense” into your training. But be warned, training systems really can be! You can expect some really bad DOMS a few days after this type of workout.

Supersets

In supersets, two exercises are performed in a row without taking a break in between. Supersets can be agonistic or antagonistic in nature. Agonistic supersets use pairs of similar exercises, while antagonistic supersets use exercises that can be thought of as opposites.

Agonistic supersets

Agonistic supersets increase the workload of the target muscle. If you do two similar exercises without a break, your muscles will have to work longer and harder than normal. This is a great way to increase local muscle endurance and lactic acid tolerance.

On the flip side, you cannot use as much weight or do as many reps as usual because you will be tired by the start of the second exercise. For those of you who exercise at home or don’t have access to heavy weights, this type of superset means you can still overload your muscles, albeit with rep volume rather than stress.

Antagonistic supersets

Antagonistic supersets improve recovery and save time. Because of a phenomenon called mutual inhibition, when one muscle contracts, the muscle on the opposite side of the same joint needs to relax. This forced relaxation increases the speed of recovery.

By doing exercises that are essentially opposing, you are forcing the opposing muscles to relax and thus recover in less time. This removes so much rest that you not only save time by not resting between exercises. They also need less rest between pairings. Antagonistic supersets work for most training goals such as endurance, hypertrophy, and strength.

Trisets

In a triset, three exercises are performed in a row. This usually means three exercises for the same muscle group. Such a high training volume without breaks brings your local muscle endurance to the maximum! If you like the burning sensation caused by lactic acid, trisets are for you.

As with the agonistic supersets described above, being tired during the second and third exercises means you need to do fewer repetitions or use less weight than if you had done the exercises in isolation. Trisets are particularly effective at body weight or similar “simple” exercises, as the accumulated fatigue makes even a simple exercise much more demanding.

Giant sets

When a triset seems too tame, there are always huge sets. A huge set consists of four or more exercises that are performed one after the other. It’s a rigorous test of local muscle endurance and, if using large compound exercises, fitness as well. The volume of work means you have to use weights much lighter than normal, but this is offset by the burning sensation caused by lactic acid that you feel in your muscles.

Giant sets are like mini-circuits, with each exercise targeting the same muscle group. On the other hand, you may find that hogging four or more exercise machines at your local gym is unpopular with your gym colleagues and it can be very frustrating to find that your last exercise was pinched by another user. Don’t worry, the huge kit I have for you bypasses this problem …!

Example workouts

As with all exercises, you should warm up thoroughly by doing some light cardio and dynamic stretching before doing any of these workouts. It’s also a good idea to do a low-intensity, light-weight set or two of each exercise so you can practice your technique and move from one exercise to the next. Do as many workouts as your personal fitness level allows.

Remember, however, that training systems are not only difficult to perform, but can also lead to severe muscle soreness after a workout. So be conservative at first when introducing them to your workout and only increase volume and frequency when you feel ready.

Agonistic supersets

exercise Representative Rest
Bench press 8 to 12

60 to 90 seconds after push-ups

pushups to fail

When you have finished the bench press, simply pick up the weight again, roll it off the bench, and start doing pushups. Do as many reps as you can, then rest.

Antagonistic supersets

exercise Representative Rest
Leg extension 15 to 20

30 to 60 seconds after pressing the shoulder

Leg curls 15 to 20

Set up the leg curls before starting the leg extension set. Most gyms place these exercises next to each other.

Trisets

exercise Representative Rest
DB side raises 8 to 12

90 to 120 seconds after cleaning, press and

DB front raises 8 to 12
DB Clean and press 8 to 12

This shoulder workout requires a pair of dumbbells so you don’t have to worry about the delays caused by someone else using your weights. Do the prescribed number of repetitions of the first exercise, then, without removing the weights, go straight to the second and then the third exercise.

As you get tired, try to do the same number of repetitions for all three exercises. Cleaning and pressing should be done from knee height, the so-called “slope” position.

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