Are giant sets the best workout for building bigger muscles for the time-poor?

Celebrity PT Dr Jim Stoppani says giant sets are one of the most efficient ways to increase muscle size fast

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You might have heard of straight sets, supersets and drop sets, but if you really want to up your game when it comes to muscle building, you must give giant sets a try. That’s according to celebrity PT and health consultant Dr Jim Stoppani, who says in a recent TikTok post that they’re a great way to blast one muscle group in minimal time, which will lead to faster gains.

For those not already in the know, giant sets are four exercises or more performed on the same muscle group, back to back, with no rests in-between. Punishing a muscle group in this way, thanks to the “extreme exhaustion” it causes the muscle cells, will encourage it to grow better, says Dr Stoppani.

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How to perform giant sets for maximum muscle growth

To perform a giant set, you want to start with bigger, multi-joint movements and end the set with more isolated, single-joint movements.

For example, to do a giant set on the chest, you might want to perform ten standard reps of a bench press, then immediately jump over and do the same amount of reps of an incline press, then the same again of an incline fly, then finally a cable crossover. 2-4 sets for each muscle group should be enough to blast it completely, says Dr Stoppani, adding that you should then rest 2-3 minutes between performing your next giant set.

Alternatively, you can perform a “pre-exhaust” version of a giant set, which is the same but reversing the order of these exercises and doing the single-joint movements first. The benefit of this is that you’re fully stimulating larger body parts that might otherwise be held back by relatively weaker body parts during multi-joint movements or compound exercises.

Dr Stoppani adds that giant sets are also a great option if you are limited on time, as you can train any muscle group in as little as 15-20 minutes using this technique. The only downside with these sorts of sets is that you will need access to quite a few pieces of equipment at the same time, which isn’t always easy in the gym, so it might be best to perform these when the gym is quiet or if you own equipment at home.

If this is not possible, Dr Stoppani recommends doing giant set exercises that can be performed on a single station, like at an adjustable weights bench, for instance. Here, he recommends doing a chest dumbbell giant set consisting of an incline dumbbell press followed by a straight-up dumbbell press, then an incline dumbbell fly and, finally, a regular dumbbell fly. 

You can check out a full giant programme at Dr Stoppani’s website (opens in new tab)

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health, grooming and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 11 years as a journalist.