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Advanced weight training – Drop sets, Super sets, Giant sets & Pyramid Sets Explained

Elevate your workout routine: Boost endurance, ignite fat loss, and overcome plateaus
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If you find yourself among those who aspire for greater strength, increased muscle mass, and a desire to elevate fitness to an advanced level, you’re likely in search of some specialized exercises or programs. While beginner workouts are excellent for establishing a routine, the pursuit of additional muscle mass and strength demands unique techniques that are mostly employed by seasoned professionals.
Let these once-secretive methods become an invaluable tool on your journey too by making them not only less clandestine but more accessible and beneficial for your fitness goals. We are thrilled to introduce four advanced weight training techniques designed to elevate your workout routine, offering a fresh and highly effective approach to supercharge your fitness journey.

Advanced Weight Training Techniques to Uplift Your Fitness Program

The integration of these advanced strategies can propel you beyond plateaus, amplify strength, and foster significant muscle growth. It’s time to step into the realm of the pros, where the investment in these techniques promises substantial payoffs in your fitness endeavors.

  • Drop sets
  • Supersets
  • Giant sets
  • Pyramid sets
Incorporating these advanced strength training protocols can aid in fat loss, lean muscle development, and increased workout volume. Elevate your regular lifting routine, enhance strength, and build the capacity to lift efficiently over the long term. These techniques are particularly beneficial for individuals struggling to grow muscle mass and aiming to gain the strength needed for heavy lifting.

1. Drop Sets

A drop set is an advanced resistance training technique that involves performing a certain exercise set to failure, then reducing the load by 20–30%, and continuing to train to failure on the same exercise with little to no rest in between.
Here you are working to muscle failure, by effectively increasing the volume of training that will push your muscles to their limits leading to maximum muscle pump and potential gains in muscle mass. The key to dropping sets is to work your muscles to failure on each set, challenging them to adapt and grow. It’s essential to execute each repetition with controlled movements and avoid using momentum to swing or jerk the weights.
Listening to your body’s limits is also important when performing drop sets, this means being attuned to sensations of fatigue, discomfort, or pain, and adjusting the intensity or load accordingly.

How to perform a drop set?

Performing a drop set involves progressively reducing the weight while increasing the number of repetitions.
  • Set 1: Start with a heavy weight that challenges you, allowing for 6-10 repetitions with proper form.
  • Set 2: Immediately reduce the weight by 10-30 percent from the previous set. Perform 5 to 10 repetitions with the reduced weight, pushing your muscles to fatigue.
  • Set 3: Drop the weight once again by 10-30 percent from the previous set. Perform another 5 to 10 repetitions with further reduced weight.
The goal is to reach muscle failure or near failure on each set, as the weights decrease and the repetitions increase. This technique increases the intensity and volume of your training, leading to greater muscle stimulation and potential gains.

2. Supersets

A superset involves a combination of 2 to 3 exercises of the same muscle group like biceps and triceps (agonistic supersets) or opposing muscle groups like back and chest (antagonistic supersets).
All the exercises are done back to back with no rest in between, these consecutive exercises will be considered as 1 Set. Supersets are great time savers and highly intense, more exercises or muscle group targeting can be done in less time.

How to perform a chest superset?

Performing a superset involves alternating between two or more exercises with minimal rest in between.
Example: Chest Superset
  • Step 1: Start with the Bench Press: Perform 10 repetitions with a challenging weight, focusing on proper form and technique.
  • Step 2: Immediately move to Incline Flyes: Without taking a significant rest, perform 10 repetitions, targeting the upper chest muscles.
  • Step 3: Transition to Decline Pushups: Without resting, perform 10 repetitions of decline pushups, engaging the lower chest muscles.
Completing all three exercises in succession counts as one set. After completing the set, rest for 60 to 90 seconds to allow for some recovery. Repeat the entire superset for a total of 3 to 4 sets, maintaining the same exercise order and repetition ranges.
The purpose of a superset is to seamlessly transition between exercises to increase the workout intensity and target multiple muscle groups or the same muscle group from different angles without rest periods.
This continuous engagement dynamically challenges your muscles, fostering greater metabolic stress, promoting adaptations, and optimizing your time in the gym.

3. Pyramid Sets

Just reverse the drop sets and you will get pyramid sets, start from the lightweight with high repetitions and build up to heavy with fewer repetitions till you have reached the peak or until you complete the pyramid and then again drop back till you don’t reach the starting lightweight.
Pyramid sets with a combination of varying and progressive loads help in plateau breakthroughs and more tension in muscle fibers, resulting in improved strength and muscle size.

How to perform a pyramid set?

Performing a pyramid set involves gradually increasing and then decreasing the weight while adjusting the number of repetitions.
  • Start with a weight that is approximately 50% of your one-rep maximum (1RM) and perform 10 repetitions with proper form.
  • Increase the weight to a challenging load and perform 8 repetitions.
  • Further, increase the weight and perform 6 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight again and perform 4 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight once more and perform 2 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight to your heaviest load and perform 1 repetition, pushing your strength to its limits.
  • Now, begin decreasing the weight gradually.
  • Decrease the weight slightly and perform 2 repetitions.
  • Decrease the weight again and perform 4 repetitions.
  • Continue decreasing the weight and perform 6 repetitions.
  • Decrease the weight further and perform 8 repetitions.
  • Finally, decrease the weight to the starting point and complete the pyramid set with 10 repetitions.
The pyramid set allows you to progressively challenge your muscles by increasing the weight, decreasing the repetitions, and then reversing the pattern. This method stimulates both strength and hypertrophy as you work through different intensity levels. Remember to select appropriate weights for each phase of the pyramid and focus on maintaining proper form throughout the exercise.
Incorporating pyramid sets into your training routine can add variation and help you break through plateaus. It’s important to listen to your body, adjust the weights as needed, and strive for proper technique and control. This technique can be applied to various exercises, providing a challenging and effective workout for muscle development and strength gains.

4. Giant Sets

Like supersets but more intensive and more exercises are included to create 1 Set. It’s a high-intensity workout method where 5 to 7 different exercises are performed with no rest in between and are mostly done to activate large muscle groups like the chest, legs, shoulders, or back.
The structure of a giant set can vary, but it commonly includes exercises that complement each other in terms of muscle involvement or movement patterns. Different angles of a targeted muscle group can be hit with lots of stress and tension on muscle fibers, that too for an extended time like 10 to 15 minutes till the set is finished.
Giant sets help increase the total volume and time under tension of a workout, both of which are important factors in muscle growth.

How to perform a giant set?

Performing a giant set involves completing multiple exercises back-to-back without rest.
Example: Shoulder Giant Set
  • Step 1: Start with Standing Military Press: Perform 12 reps of this exercise, focusing on proper form and engaging your shoulder muscles.
  • Step 2: Immediately transition to Seated Dumbbell Lateral Raise: Without taking a significant rest, perform 12 reps, targeting the side delts to further work your shoulder muscles.
  • Step 3: Move on to Upright Barbell Row: Perform 12 reps of this exercise, emphasizing proper posture and engaging your upper back muscles.
  • Step 4: Transition to Cable Face Pulls: Perform 12 reps, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together and engaging your rear delts and upper back muscles.
  • Step 5: Finish the giant set with a Standing Dumbbell Front Raise: Perform 12 reps, targeting the front deltoids to complete the shoulder workout.
Performing one set of the entire giant set, going through each exercise without rest, constitutes one round. After completing the giant set, you can take a short rest period of 90 to 180 seconds to recover before starting the next round. Aim to complete 3 to 4 rounds of the giant set, maintaining the same exercise order and repetition range.
Incorporating giant sets into your training regimen not only adds variety to your workouts but also allows you to efficiently target different muscles. A resistance training technique that helps to increase muscle endurance, promote muscle growth, and enhance overall muscular development. By combining multiple exercises targeting the same muscle group or related muscle groups, you can create a challenging and efficient workout.

5 Benefits of Advanced Weight Training Techniques

Advanced weight training techniques offer several benefits for individuals looking to maximize their workout effectiveness and achieve their fitness goals. Here are some key benefits of incorporating these techniques into your training routine:
  • Muscle growth – Different angles and exercises challenge your muscles to help break through training and muscle-building plateaus, the varied and challenging nature of advanced techniques helps stimulate muscle growth.

    Extra muscle stress due to advanced techniques create micro-tears in muscle fibers or simply called muscle tissue damage. These micro tears or damaged muscle trigger a process called muscle protein synthesis that repairs, and rebuilds the muscle fibers resulting in muscle growth.

    As the body repairs these micro-tears, the muscle fibers adapt by becoming stronger and larger, contributing to muscle growth. This continuous cycle of stress, damage, repair, and growth is essential for breaking through stagnation and achieving ongoing progress in your fitness journey.

  • Burn calories – Incorporating techniques like supersets or giant sets, which involve performing exercises back-to-back with minimal rest, can elevate your heart rate and contribute to increased calorie burn, supporting fat loss goals.

    The human body burns calories even when it’s resting as the organ functioning system is still at work and requires energy to perform necessary tasks.

    When muscles get damaged in the process of resistance training, they need to be rebuilt and repaired, this process involves calorie burning too, thus helping to boost metabolic rate. It is not like we burn calories only while working out but it’s a process where calories are burned after the workout and even at rest too.

  • Increase workout volume and intensity – There is no fun in doing traditional straight sets, and with time our body also adapts to the routine we are in.

    Never let your muscles and mind adapt to one routine, if you want to grow you need to put in extra effort and utilize muscle-building techniques that will bring high intensity and extra load to your training.

    The above methods are a great way to add variety, volume, and intensity that will challenge your strength levels and develop your muscles to their full potential. Hitting muscles with high volume and high intensity guarantees a great pump, which acts as a stimulus for muscle growth.

  • Time-Efficient Workouts – Advanced techniques often involve combining multiple exercises or intensifying the workload, allowing you to achieve a comprehensive workout in a shorter time. This time efficiency is beneficial for those with limited schedules.

  • Improved Mental Focus – Engaging in complex and varied movements stimulates cognitive functions. Your brain has to actively participate in coordinating movements, sequencing exercises, and adapting to changing workout structures, providing cognitive benefits beyond physical fitness.

    Performing advanced techniques requires heightened concentration and mental focus. This aspect of advanced training can enhance your mind-muscle connection and contribute to improved overall mental resilience.

Wrapping Up

To achieve an optimal physique, advanced training methods are great to be included in your fitness regime. But it needs to be understood that there is no one magical method that will ensure you everything, though these are just a few of many time-tested techniques that, if integrated into your fitness planning, will bring great results.
Try to create a well-rounded workout program that encompasses various components that will address different aspects of fitness. Include different training methods rather than emphasizing one training method in isolation.
Aerobic training is great for cardiovascular endurance, strength training builds muscles and increases strength, core training enhances body stability, balance training improves coordination and prevents injuries, likewise, flexibility exercises maintain joint mobility and prevent muscle imbalances, and of course, advanced training techniques to take your workouts next level.

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