The way you perform your sets can make a huge difference in the amount of muscle growth you can experience from your training. In this video, I’m going to break down 4 workout scenarios using the bench press as an example and detail how you want to perform it for maximum gains. From supersets to drop sets to straight sets, each will be shown so you can see which is the best when you want to build size or strength.
First of all, it is important to differentiate between size and strength goals. While these two usually go hand in hand (particularly when you are just starting out and are experiencing newbie gains) they do tend to drift further apart the deeper your training gets). If you are chasing primarily strength goals then you will want to focus on any training set structure that allows you to achieve the highest strength output in your session.
It is here that straight sets rule the day. The example shown in the video uses a 10 rep max for ease of math however, everything demonstrated can simply be scaled down to a lower rep range (closer to 3-5 reps per set) with the idea being to physically and mechanically overload the tension generated in the working muscle and build a better neural adaptation to the stress to spark strength gains over time.
When you get into the more advanced training strategies like drop sets and supersets you are doing two things that start to interfere with your strength training. First, you are taxing the muscles in a way that could make it difficult for you to come back and train the movement again a second or even third time that week. This could compromise your ability to build the neural connection needed to see improved strength as quickly as you could.
You also start mixing the signals you are sending to your muscles as to what your training goal is at the moment. If strength is the main focus of your training then you will need to relent on the inefficiency created by pursuing hypertrophy. Strength training requires efficiency of training. The two do not go hand in hand in this manner. As stated earlier as well, you will get size gains from your strength training so you do not have to feel as if you are completely abandoning the cause because you choose to train with straight sets.
As for drop sets and supersets however, something interesting comes into play here. When selecting the exercise that you are going to perform you want to be sure that if you are doing agonist agonist supersets that you choose an exercise that is complimentary to the shortcomings of the first exercise performed. In this case, the bench press does not provide resisted adduction of the arms to and past midline on the chest. The standing cable crossover does. Pairing these up in succession is a great way to tax the chest and apply a stimulus for growth.
Here you would want to forego the pursuit of strength however and look to maintain the volume of the bench press as you fatigue. It would be important to allow the weights to drop if needed in order to keep the 10 reps shown in the sample.
Pre-exhaust sets are another way you can train these two exercises. You would simply change the order in which you performed the crossover and bench. In this case however, the bench press loads would be significantly compromised leading to a decreased effect on the chest than the previous methods. This is not bad however, just understand that this would be a better technique for training the triceps as an accessory to the bench press to improve their contribution to the lift without having to sacrifice full range of motion and perform partials.
So as you can see, it matters how you perform your sets. If you want a complete program that matches your current training goals and shows you how to do every set in a step by step manner for best muscle growth and gains, be sure to click the link below to get started training with the ATHLEAN-X Training System today.
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