There is currently no shortage of exercises available on the open training market today. Like most things related to the training industry, it’s more than safe to say that we have tipped the scale one way and offered arguably far too many exercises for physical development and athletic improvement purposes while simultaneously neglecting other viable options for other significant training factors in the process. One of those such factors is set to type training options. Below you will receive a brief list of how to approach your training sets during training to potentially allow faster and unique progress.
Set Type #1: Single Sets
Now when is it ever necessary to simply prescribe you, your athlete, or your client just one single set of an exercise? Outside of extreme de-conditioning scenarios where you or someone else is severely out of shape or fatigued and only capable of performing one high-quality session, you could almost say that single sets are never an ideal training option. Moreover, research has shown that in the context of size and strength development, multiple sets are vastly superior to single sets.
Set Type #2: Multiple Sets
As I just alluded to above, multiple sets are a very effective and recognized approach to training in any exercise. It allows for a potentiation or stimulation effect of the muscles where you progressively increase the number and rate of all fibers being recruited with each subsequent set. Rarely are you going to peak your performance with one single effort or set? There needs to be an escalation of effort across multiple sets to eventually arrive at your best physical output.
Set Type #3: Cluster Sets
I just recently finished up a solid piece on Cluster sets that you can visit here for more specific detail on the matter:https://www.stack.com/a/cluster-sets-for-strength-and-performance/
Cluster sets are really just intra-sets or multiple sets within a total standardized set which naturally elicit a greater level of muscular contraction and greater strength output to help raise performance. These approaches are great for somebody that is extremely strong to limit fatigue. Mark Rippetoe showed a study in his book Starting Strength that revealed erratic force display and coordination levels after 5 rep maxes. Moreover, beginners will be psychologically unaccustomed to both the psychological and physical stress of lifting heavy, so chunking up training volumes with cluster sets is an excellent avenue with this training population.
Set Type #4: Stimulation Sets
A stimulation set is going to be a limited range of motion supra-maximal approach to your set in an attempt to drive up the recruitment of more muscle mass without the expense of losing precious high-effort alactic energy stores. For example, if you are looking to set a personal record in the bench press, you could try to hold 10-20 of your normal warm-up percentage or even projected one rep max. No hard fast rules or conversions on this one. Just give your body a taste of the load without actually doing any of the work.
Set Type #5: Drop Sets
Drop sets are an absolute classic in weightlifting culture and are one of the best ways to create an incredible pump to the muscle after you have completed heavy work and focus more on metabolic fatigue in your workouts to achieve optimal muscle-building results, according to empirical research and real-world evidence. Pushups are one of the most suitable exercises for drop sets. Begin at a particular weight, and once your reach failure. De-load slightly, and once failure ensues, de-load once more. Once failure comes, then alter your leverage to any easier bodyweight position (pushups from knees to toes) and attempt as many reps as possible for one more round. Please note, drop sets are more of a CrossFit like “challenge” based exercise. Use this approach sparingly as lower intensity high volume approaches have shown to be pretty problematic for precious connective tissue and their innately slower recovery rates.
Set type #6: Pyramid Sets
Another classic approach in the context of weightlifting is that you can use in a number of ways. Pyramid your reps up (4-6-8-10) each set to create potentially more work to be achieved with moderate reps when focused on building muscle primarily. Utilize the opposite sequence and scale reps in a downward trajectory to intensify and prepare for more of a strength-oriented lifting day.