The next time you're on Youtube.com, check out the legendary arm workout titled "Milos Sarcev Giant Set Workout". You'll see IFBB Professional bodybuilder Milos Sarcev completing an 18-minute arm workout with zero rest – an incredible example of a giant set. Giant sets are popular among bodybuilders preparing for a show. They involve stringing together large groups of exercises, completed one after another with no rest. They can be used for a single body part, such as chest, or a set of opposing body parts, such as biceps and triceps. There are two extreme opinions on the usefulness of giant sets. Let's look at both points of view, and try to reach some sort of consensus. Then, let's check out the influence of AAS use, and differences in giant set effects upon gear users vs. natural bodybuilders.
Giant sets are great!
The goal of bodybuilding is to force a great deal of blood into a muscle group, while tearing the muscle fibers. This blood delivers amino acids (from the protein in the food we eat) which is very useful for helping the torn muscle fibers heal. They grow back bigger, which leads to growth of the muscle measurable in fractions of an inch. Over time, these fractions add up! Giant sets are terrific because they force more blood into a muscle region than any other training protocol. Hitting a body part with a succession of 6 to 8 different exercises definitely shocks the area into growth by meeting these requirements!
Giant sets are useless!
Are you a bodybuilders or a body "pumper"? You need lots of heavy sets to make gains. Fifteen sets of 4-8 repetition lifting heavy, and you look like a bodybuilder. Thirty sets of high-rep "pumping" and you'll look like a fitness bunny. Strength and stamina are all good – but you need heavy bodybuilding sets to grow.
As always, a combination of these two arguments usually leads to the most correct position. Giant sets are useful from time to time. They are great for breaking through sticking points, and can help deliver some increased definition in the final weeks before a bodybuilding show. Strength levels are low at this point, so you need to find other ways to tax muscles to their fullest. On the other hand, using these giant "pumping" sets year-round would never really lead to much new muscle growth. You need heavy sets and lots of rest to achieve this feat. You should use giant sets sparingly.
As with all things bodybuilding, when the trainer is using anabolic or androgenic steroids, the rules change. Users of AAS are able to train longer and harder, and recover faster as well. You will grow big muscles while mowing your lawn, if you use AAS. While some bodybuilders may be able to gain muscle while using giant sets, many naturals will not. If you're a natural, you should use them for up to two weeks at a time, even 8-10 weeks, to avoid burnout to the central nervous system. If you're a steroid user, the sky's most likely the limit!
Giant Sets For Natural Bodybuilders by Dane C. Fletcher