How to Perform SETS for Most Muscle Growth!

How to Perform SETS for Most Muscle Growth!


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. Today I’m going to break down for you, ho
w you should perform your sets for maximum gains. Now, it’s important to differentiate whether
you’re pursuing size gains or strength gains because there is going to be a difference
in how you do this. What I’ve done is basically laid out four
scenarios and we’re using one example exercise, or two at most. In this case we’re going to take a bench-press. Now, the scenarios are oversimplified. The numbers are arbitrary. As a matter of fact, in our strength pursuit
here I’m using 10 just as a way for us to use simpler math here. Obviously, our strength numbers will be in
the lower rep ranges than that. It would be scaled down. But it doesn’t matter because it still applies
as we make our way through. I want to show you how there are differences
in how you’re performing your sets though. That’s the most important thing. We can start with scenario number one. If we were to perform a bench-press with straight
sets it would look something like this. Let’s say 225lbs for 10 was our max. Again, we can build strength at a higher rep
range. If you’re 10 rep max is 225 and five months
from now you can bench-press 285 for 10 reps, you’ve gotten stronger. It’s a metric for strength. But let’s say we’re at 225 for 10 and
we take an adequate rest between sets because we know if we’re trying to train for strength
you have to allow yourself to recover in between sets – both neurologically and physically
– so you can get back to that bench and perform the same 10 reps with that 10 rep
max of yours again. Again, we have three consecutive performances
of that because we rested adequately between sets. Now, I’m going t put out some poundage lifted
across a certain time period for a point we’re going to make later on. Again, this doesn’t really make a whole
hell of a lot of difference when you look at different scenarios. However, in this particular example I’m
going to show you why it will. 6750lbs lifted across those three sets in
13 minutes. One is one minute arbitrarily to perform the
set, five-minute rest in between, 519lbs per minute. Great. Scenario number two: we could perform bench
in drop sets. What we’re talking about here is dropping
the weight that you used in your bench to failure by 30% and then taking that set to
failure as well. So, in this case, a 225lb bench, dropped 30%
would come down to 155lbs. So, you perform your first set to failure
– 225 for 10 – then you drop that down immediately to 155lbs and rep out. Let’s say in this instance you got 8 reps. Now you’re going to rest again. You’re not abandoning strength entirely
in this example here. You’re trying to pursue the same idea. So, you rest your five minutes between sets. You come back, you do 225lbs, this time you’re
going to be doing 8. This is a natural drop off because you’re
adding three, additional sets to failure that you didn’t perform here. So coming back to perform the 225 for 10 again
is unrealistic. You’re probably going to perform at a little
bit of a decrease in ladder here. 8 reps and then 7 reps. You’ve got the same thing happening in your
drop set as the fatigue continues to amount across the sets. What that does is end up totaling 8570lbs
lifted in 16 minutes. It takes a little bit longer because of one
additional set to do here, and it comes out to be 535lbs a minute. Again, is this better than this because of
that? You’ve got to hold on for a second. Now, scenario number three: we introduce something
more of a compound set, but it’s still a drop set. It’s a mechanical drop set. This is a bench-press into a mechanically
easier exercise. However, it’s still able to be done at a
higher intensity. In this case, the crossover. I’ve mentioned this in one of our recent
videos about taking a bench-press into a crossover and why this is a better example. The things that’s happening really well
here, that’s not happening here, is your drop set – your second exercise – is complementary
to the bench-press. What does that mean? The mechanics in the bench-press are staying
the same because you’re going from a bench to a bench. We know that one thing that’s lacking from
a bench-press is full chest range of motion. Full activation of the chest. We don’t go into resisted adduction across
the chest because our hands stay fixed on a bar, or even with the dumbbells we have,
that limitation, as I’ve pointed out in detail, on the bench-press video. So, we know that we’re getting complementary
stresses to the chest here, and because of that we’re going to have some other things
happen here. In our first set, if we took 225lbs for 10
to failure and then performed 50lbs in each hand adding up to 100lbs on the crossover;
we would have an addition minute for these because of the one for the right hand and
the one for the left hand. Then we have a drop off, but a more significant
drop off in the second set. Why is that? We’re not going to go from 225 to 10, back
to 8 in the second set. We’ve done something a little more intense. We’ve taken the chest through a higher stress
because of the selection of exercises here. So, the drop off is going to be more significant. If I’m still trying to pursue strength here
by resting five minutes in between, we would have an output of 10, 6, and 4; and then 10,
8, and 8 for our drop on the crossover for a total of 7120lbs in 19 minutes. A little longer here. 347lbs per minute. But there’s an alternative way we can do
this. We can say ‘I understand I’m not going
to be able to preserve this strength here’. This secondary exercise that taxes my body
the way it does is providing such an overload on the chest that I can’t possibly try to
mix the goals. I’m not trying to mix strength with hypertrophy
here. I’m trying to train for hypertrophy, realizing
that the inefficiency created by the secondary movement makes the first movement not so great,
in terms of my output. But I relent to that. I give in. I allow for that to happen to say ‘I’m
just going to try to maintain my volume’. If I maintain my volume in keeping my reps
at 10, 10, and 10, then of course, my total poundage will come down. But something interesting happens here. If I go 225lbs for 10 in the first set and
I lift my 100 for my crossover for 10 in that second part of it, then in the second set
for 10 I’ve got to come down to 205lbs. Then to get 10 in the third set I’ve got
to come down to 185lbs. It might be discouraging to some. But when you calculate this all out – again,
we’ve foregone the pursuit of strength here. We’ve relented to that. We’ve brought our reps’ time down to 3
minutes between sets. That comes out to be 8550lbs in a shorter
period of time – 58 minutes – for a total output of 570lbs. Then there’s one, final scenario. We can take those two exercises if this is
a good combination, but could we flip the order around? Could we go into a bench pre-exhaust? Well, what we’re doing here is taking the
crossover and performing it in front of the bench. But something happens here as well. We know, once again, this is not a strength
pursuit, more than any, because when you perform that first exercise like the crossover, we
try to head into our 225lbs for 10 and we can’t even get that in the first set. We’ve just taken that muscle and fatigued
it and now we’re asking for it to do what our normal 10 rep max is. Now it’s down to 7 already. We come back, we have our three-minute rest
in between. So, we’re always going to be able to get
our 10 reps on our crossover – not that that’s necessarily that important. But what happens is, your bench-press continues
to suffer. 225lbs for 5. 225lbs for 3. You rest three minutes in between sets and
it’s 6375lbs in 15 minutes for 425lbs a minute. So, what do these pounds per minute reflect? Well, they don’t reflect everything because
you have to determine what your goal is. If your goal is strength, I throw this out
the window. The only thing that matters here is: what
is the number of times you lifted that maximum weight we’re lifting on this occasion? That is the most time right here. 30 times in this set, right here. In this scenario. So, if I’m pursuing strength, this is the
winner. I’m working on increasing the max amount
of weight I can move. So even if I have to extend the period of
time between sets to do that, if I was training for strength; this is what I should do. There’s a reason why a lot of these other
scenarios that are considered more advanced training techniques, are not use – and shouldn’t
be used – by beginners. If you’re a true beginner what you should
be focusing on is building your foundational strength. We talk about it all the time in ATHLEANX. Your foundational strength is the basis of
everything you do. Now, I’ve also gone on to say that I heavily
suggest you work on your correctives at the same time because even if you’re a brand-new
person to the gym your body didn’t get into the imbalances and the differentials in strength
– upper body, lower body, right side, left side – from training. It’s the first time in the gym. It goes there from everyday life. So, you want to address those imbalances. You want to address and correct those things
through the right selection of exercises. Let’s face it, an overhead press, a bench-press,
a squat, a deadlift; none of them are working your rotator cuff. You’ve got to start working in some face
pulls. You’ve got to start working in the right
correctives. Band pull-aparts. I know they sound boring, but they go hand
in hand. So, as you’re building on your foundational
strength, you’re doing it on a solid foundation. You’re not working around the cracks of
a cracked foundation. So that would be part of it. But if we’re working for hypertrophy, trying
to train straight for muscle growth, we realize that along with the strength training we’re
going to see – we’ve seen it many times before in new beginnings – you’re going
to see some side gains here. But if you’re a little bit further down
the road, more advanced, and you’re trying to train for hypertrophy and you’ve been
in the gym for a while, these other techniques start to open up possibilities. That’s when you start to look at ‘what’s
the workload I’m doing? What’s the amount of stress that I’m applying
to a muscle in a certain period of time?’ If both you and I did the same rate, the same
reps, the same exercise, but you did it in 10 minutes and I did it in 20 minutes; your
workload will be higher. The output and the stress on your body would
be more significant. That’s what’s called ‘Density Training’. We look at that to give us a reflection of
that and that allows us to start preparing methods. So, in these methods, the best scenario would
be to use this complementary exercise – in this case, the crossover which complements
the stress being applied to the chest – and it allows us to do that in a way that maximizes
what’s going on here because we’re not sacrificing the volume. We know how important the volume is to the
overall picture. So, this would be the winner. Instead of trying to maintain strength. So, this would be the winner. Instead of trying to maintain strength you
start to mix your messages. You mix your training focuses. This would be the winner. Am I saying that pre-exhaust is no good based
on these numbers? No. Pre-exhaust has a place. As a matter of fact, what’s interesting
is, people that try to perform pre-exhaust try to get more work out of the chest in the
second compound part of that movement, or combination. That’s not what’s going on. The studies will show that the second exercise
– the bench-press in this case – is that the activation on the chest is the same. What’s significantly being enhanced here
is the recruitment and activation of the accessory muscles to that lift. Namely the triceps. Which has shown a dramatic increase in activation. So without having to forego or use partial
range of motion to try and work the sticking point in the bench-press in the end, you can
still use a full range of motion exercise. Realizing that the triceps are going to get
more recruitment here, and therefore contribute more to your ability for tricep recruitment
when you need it the most at lockout. Without having to forego full range of motion
reps. So the last point I’ll make here is, when
you train in straight set fashion here, you have the opportunity because you’re sparing
yourself all these intensity techniques that can really take you to a point of trouble,
in terms of how much soreness you have in your muscles, making it hard for you to get
back in the gym, continuing to work on your strength. So, if you’re really trying to prioritize
your strength, this would be the scenario so you can come back more frequently without
having these things be detrimental to your ability to show up in the gym. But for the other reasons we’ve said here,
there are ways to split your workouts up, guys. These are not bad. You can still get back in the gym, but you
have t know how to split your workout up and maximize your ability to do this. I’ve done a whole video on training splits
that you can follow, and the advantages and disadvantages in those. You can check that video out over here if
you haven’t already done so. Guys, I hope you’ve found this video helpful. Again, there are a lot of ways to skin a cat. You have to focus on what it is you’re trying
to accomplish and then figure out the most efficient way for you to do that so you can
get the returns you’re looking for in the most effective manner, in the least amount
of time. That’s what we’re doing here, guys. If you’re looking for step by step programs,
all our programs do these, depending upon the goal. They’re all over at ATHLEANX.com. In the meantime, if you’ve found the video
helpful leave your comments and thumbs up below. Let me know what else you want me to cover
and I’ll do my best for you. I’ll break the muscle marker out. Not just to draw on me, but to draw on the
board if need be. If you haven’t already done so, click ‘subscribe’
and turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video. All right, guys. See you soon.

100 Replies to “How to Perform SETS for Most Muscle Growth!”

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  2. Every "split" of this articles works.. its all about time under tension,motion etc.. u can do straight reps and building size.. lets say you have bench 150kg bench max.. u do 80% of that so 120kg.. and you will do 3 sets of 120 x10 reps each.. remember.. time under tension for hyperthrophy is about 45-55sec.. lets say 50.. u have 10reps.. so 5sec each rep.. 1up 1squeez 3down.. if u cant do it just lower weight.. muscles dont know what weight it is, they just know they are in fkn… hell of load and if u fail in that range, muscle will respond on that by grow.. if ucant lift something, body will do everything for it because yr brain thinks is living needed if u stress that shit out every time.. make your muscles fail and u will grow

  3. 1. Straight Sets – Same Weight for 3 Sets
    This is for strength

    2. Drop Sets – Drop reps but not weight for each of 3 initial sets. Then do a 2nd drop set after at a greatly reduced weight
    This is for hypertrophy

    3. Superset Drop Sets – Weight stays the same for the first set but then greatly reduced for drop set. Reps for initial and drop set reduce each time. Superset (2nd exercise) will have reps stay the same across the 3 sets but weight will drop each time. Try to keep reps and weight the same across all 3 drop sets for 2nd exercise.
    This is for strength plus accessory muscle training

    4. Pre-Exhaust – Start with small weight on one exercise and do 3 sets of same weight. Then exercise 2 use same weight but decrease reps with each set.
    This will signifcantly increase the workload on secondary muscles. Example: On bench press, your triceps are way more activated

  4. Can somebody please summarise the video into a short and simple sentence, I'm trying to keep track but there's so much

  5. Thank you thank you thank you! I needed more intensity and different set Styles. Now my workouts won’t be as dry. #newthingstotry

  6. So wouldn't it be worth a shot to perform a bench into a dropset into the crossovers to maximize fatigue and isolation with a little longer rest period?
    I'm still fine tuning but my routine has been (and weekdays are irrelevant) but let's say Saturday rest day- Sunday Shoulders and legs- Monday back and biceps- Tuesday chest and triceps- weds shoulders legs- Thursday back and bis- Friday chest and triceps- Saturday rest

  7. I think my brain is too tired for this. Also, the lingo is too much for me to process. Specifically, drop set; I get it, but it requires a lot of thinking. Also, I feel like my brain is too tired at the end of a work day to calculate all of this math. In short, I wish this were more simple. But, perhaps this video is for practiced lifters and cross-fitters. I am too stubborn to give up on it though. So…*deep sigh*

  8. Holy hell! I did not even realize you could take a 5min break between sets and still get gains. I always thought a min break was pushing it.

    To anyone who can help here, a quick question: Would it be fine to start with your heaviest weight, then work your way down in weight to maintain the same reps? Thanks for any advice you can give.

  9. So scenario #2, being the drop sets, is useless because the super sets from #3 and #4 allow you to better attain hypertrophy, or do they still have a place somewhere?

  10. Hey big man ,,,,FAT GAL ABBS,,,
    ,again,,,,,,thanks to u ,,in my training @ home,,, I've been trying to correct my frame,,,,,,,I've noticed that my abbs & the curves ,,,( that s just starting to show,,thanks to u)
    , of my hipsthat s drop ,,,,,,,,thats so funny to say @ my age,58,,,,
    ,,the curve of my hips were not even,,,, so I've been tryin to paying more attention to balancing
    my work out and bring them goin to alignment,,,, ,,,, peace out,,

  11. Hi Jeff. Could you simplify whatever you said in this video? It kind of went all the way over my head! I couldn't really come to a conclusion either.

  12. 🤯 complicated. at least for a non-native speaker. the arrow means plus/additionally? and why is more reps like in scenario 2-4 giving one hypertrophy and not strength through endurance? what is strength, what hypertrophy? jeff, please make a series or at least a vid to explain, what what is and means and effects and how to train each! thanks and big ❤️ for all your work!

  13. Can you start considering the part of the population that maybe new to the gym but they have been doing bodyweight training for a year or more, so they're technically not as weak as an average dude.
    Cause I'm really having problems in underestimating or overestimating my capabilities in the gym.

  14. i do 64 reps for small and 128 reps for big muscle groups (some extra for back). i workout same groups twice a week. for small muscle groups i only have one exercice 8×4. for chest i do two exercises 8×4. for back i do 3 exercises 8×4.. is this okay? I have done this for 2 weeks now..

  15. If you ever need a pupil that has had 4 back surgeries and wants to start lifting again to gain size hit me up. I am trying to get back into the gym but find doing about of the exercises I used to be able to do I can’t anymore. I think there may be more like me and could make for some good video series.
    Just a thought!
    Thank you for for the very informative videos

  16. Should you do the drop set IMMEDIATELY after you do first set without rest or take a minute rest then do the drop set??

  17. Everybody is selling their product .. im totally confused what to do .. what is the optimal way to go.

  18. Hey Jeff can You Please make a video about anterior humerus transition, and how to correct it its holding me back 🙁

  19. Great video…question:
    1) You stared the video by saying, “training for strength vs. size”, but then never used the word size again during the video. By the end of the video you were saying “strength vs. hypertrophy & volume”. Does hypertrophy & volume = size?

    2) can you do both strength and hypertrophy training exercises during the same workout. Example, strength bench press sets followed by hypertrophy dips or flyes? Or should you only do one type of training during an exercise session?

  20. What do you think about sitting down during set-rests? For deadlift and squat specifically, as it gets boring just to stand&wait.

  21. But how is it possible to do scenario 1 when you already fatigued on the first set? or is it because of the 5 min rest?

  22. what do you say about like if i do 3 sets of 275 for 3 and then drop it down by 20 so 255 and do 3 sets of 6 and then drop it down 20 so 235 and do 3 sets of 8 and then do 215 for 3 sets of 10 is that to much what will this accomplish for me seems to be shaping my legs pretty good but my arms are small so theirs nothing to shape but will this build muscle like using slow twitch fibers and fast twitch fibers

  23. hey, just a quick question: How do you feel about doing for example 3 sets, with 1 set to every muscle in the morning, then 1 set on day, and 1 set on evening, as example. Or just simply 3 sets, with around 1 hour of rest in between. This only really applies to home gym of course, if assuming you use home gym, and goal is maximizing strength.

  24. Help me out. I'm new to this.

    Jeff makes it sound like it's a zero sum game. In other words, you're either training for strength with straight sets or you're training for size with drop sets. Surely as you get stronger in the first method you would grow in size, wouldn't you?

    I mean take any powerlifter and put them on a diet. You shred them up and I'm willing to bet you couldn't tell the difference between them and a bodybuilder who only train for hypertrophy.

    Is there really a difference between the two methods?

  25. First time I watched this video, I had no idea what this is all about. After months of hard work this is so clear to me, I've learned so freakin much from Jeff that people ask me for advice very often xD and I of course tell them that all I'm doing is copying Jeff 'cause that's the only person I trust.

  26. ciao Jeff, thank you very much for posting all these videos. I can see you are super passionate about it and it is great that you are willing to share your knowledge with us! Thank you very much again and best regards. All the best!

  27. If i look good but dont have strenght then what should i focus on?i tried to shread as a biginer beacause i didnt know what i was doing.I lost a lot of strenght but i quite look defined.How should i proceed?go into a bulk and lose everything i tried to achive for such a long time?

  28. What kinda drop sets are those, jumping between two weights? Dropset as i know:
    225×10
    200×10
    175×10
    150×10

  29. So many people waste their workouts because of a lack of understanding. To much misinformation is confusing the shit outta many of us.

  30. Would u please do a reshoot for the video and talk slower, as people with english is there second language its hard to understand what u r talking about. Thx

  31. There is just too damn much intel on this channel/.. Every fufing time I look at my phone I see another video AHAHA Does Jeff have any down time? lol THANKS FOR showing me how to train smart. I read an article on Jeff they call him "The brains behind the muscle." not bad….

  32. I have been into density training for a few years and did not realize it, I would set my timer and crank out three sets of 12, curls, bent over row and over heads, I can do that in about 15- 20 minutes…I just thought it was a cool thing to do…now that I am getting some education per se. I want to slow down, do more drop sets and make the muscles work harder, I am even doing that with the kettle ball.

  33. HI Jeff, I came back today to add my own weight to these three Scenario's, in checking Scenario's one, two and four are correct when adding the weights v reps on both sides, however when we look at scenario three the math is off on the addition on both sides,e.g., weight v reps to cross over weight v. reps. Scenario three at the bottom when we add both sides we get 8,750 you wrote 8,550 you also wrote 570 lbs per minute in 15 minutes (GRANTED that is correct per minute if the addition were correct as well), it should be 583 lbs. per minute in 15 minutes with a total weight of 8,750 lbs. Also where you wrote 7,120 lbs. really adds up to be 7,100 lbs…in 19 minutes it should be 373 lbs. per minute, you wrote 374 lbs. per minute. I am a real math geek lol so I wanted to share. thank you again Jeff, I have my formula based on your intel, I am working out smarter now because of you my man! ROCK ON.

  34. maybe one minor issue I have with Jeff he does not address( forgive me if I missed some relevant videos) the periodization, I do not recall him ever saying that some days should be not so heavy and maybe outright light. Even when I was young my heavy and rather heavy workouts ( no more than 4-5 altogether) were followed by some 1.5 – 2 weeks of lighter days. As my sum was slightly in excess of 1400 for under 200 lbs person that was not a totally erroneous method. Again, my apologies if I missed something but exercising always heavy and to failure………..

  35. People are surprised how he still has video ideas but im more impressed he writes essays in the description

  36. Hi i’m Jim. combination routes at the gym like triceps, chest, muscles is it good and what is the best way to perform at the gym Jeff.

  37. Oh man! 30 years in construction ruined my shoulders. left front delt bigger than my right, medial delts really small, rear delts, they almost not there. GOT TO GET MY SHOULDERS RIGHT!!!

  38. JEFF ✊JEFF✊ JEFF ✊JEFF! ✊😂 AWESOME. How is it I learn so much from you over the years !? Ill tell you one thing , I WONT SAY THE Name of the "school" I was certified from , but I will say , I wish athlean x trainer school existed! We would have alot better trainers out there , and from my experience here in Florida, we got a lot of bums and morons out here trying to call themselves trainers , the industry here for trainers suck! Suck ! Lol hey I went to Marine Corp boot camp , but I'm sick of seeing all these "boot camps' being advertised . And they do well! Lol😅 housewives SMH 🤦 . Idk man guess I thought the industry would be different, I feel like Jeff and I had similar goals , to put out the truth and solid training guidance. Keep it up man 💪

  39. Another awesome video. After 21 years without stepping into a gym, this is all brand new again. Lots of learning happening here. Things to look forward to, as I keep progressing in my foundational strength gain.

  40. At first, I go to gym only to strenghten my muscle. Just keep its muscle strong enough to lift a heavy shit.
    Right after watch his video about pushing your muscle to the max potential but not to point of injury, I just get pumped to challenge myself.
    Thanks Jeff.

  41. THUMBS UP!
    then watch (and comment), whether you're going to utilize the information shared or not.

    THIS was over my head and NOT applicable to me. (it's specifically for guys.)

  42. For gaining strength, isn't pyramiding the way to go? Ex: "warm up" with 157 for 2 sets, 10 reps, then 179 for 2 sets, 8 reps, then 201 for 2 sets, 5 reps, then 225 for 1 set of 5 reps then 245 or whatever you max out at for 1 or 2 reps? Again, for strength not definition

  43. Hey Jeff I have great question. What if the machine for cross overs is too far from where you are benching? What would you recommend? For example, my gym in my home town has two floors and the cable machines are no where near the bench press. I would have constantly run up and down the stairs and risk losing my spot or there would be others already occupying the machine.

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