Lifting Definitions 2: Set Variations


Straight Sets

The most simple kind of Set, 'Straight Sets' take on this structure; Set - Rest - Set - Rest - Set - Rest - Set. In a 4 set approach in Straight Sets there will be 3 standard length Rest Periods during the approach. For Upper Body and Calf Training the Rest Period is maximum 30-45 seconds. For Leg Training maximum 60-90 seconds. If the Rest Period is much longer, you risk the full recovery of your muscle fibres, which reduces workout 'Intensity,' the No.1 factor involved in muscle adaptation. Straight sets will usually be the most common Set variation you will perform at the gym.

Pyramid Sets

Pyramid Sets minipulate Rest Periods, Reps and Resistance all within a 4 set period. A 'Pyramid Set' can either be 'Ascending' or 'Descending' - according to the Rep count performed each set; 'Ascending' Pyramid Sets Start with a lower number of Repetitions and increase over a 4 set period, e.g. 6 Reps - 8 Reps - 10 Reps - 12 Reps. They also start with long Rest Periods which decrease over a 4 set period, e.g. 90 secs - 60 secs - 45 secs - 30 secs. During Ascending Pyramid Sets the weight gradually decreases as well during the 4 set period, e.g. 60kg - 50kg - 40kg - 30kg. 'Descending' Pyramid Sets act much the same way but start the opposite way round. One can do an Ascending Pyramid followed by a Descending.

Drop Sets

A 'Drop Set' can involve 2 or more sets and refers to the decrease in resistance during the exercise approach. In a Drop Set there are no Rest Periods until the end, they follow this structure; Set - Set - Set - Set - Rest. The reason Sets can be performed consecutively with no rest in-between is because the resistance is 'dropped' down each set to an amount where Repetitions can continue to be performed. Having No Rest Period(s) increases the Intensity and thus the resistance can often be reduced by some margin throughout a Drop Set approach while still causing appropriate stimulation. Drop Sets are best used for small muscle groups such as Shoulders and Arms.

Super Sets

A 'Super Set' involves 2 exercises, usually inv