How to Perform SETS for Most Muscle Growth!

  • Published: 03 February 2019
  • 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.

    For more videos on how to perform your reps for most muscle growth as well as the best way to build muscle fast, be sure to subscribe to our channel below and turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when it’s published.

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Comments • 1 679

    ATHLEAN-X™   5 months back

    *NOTIFICATION SQUAD GIVEAWAY* - Alright guys, I’m giving away a complete 30 Day Workout program to 100 lucky clickers within the first hour this video is published! Remember, this is NOT THE FIRST 100, but those randomly selected within the first hour the video is published. Click the link to see if you’ve won. No strings attached!

    If you don’t win, no worries. Just be sure you have your notifications turned on so you can get to my next video quickly and try again. Good luck and thanks for being a loyal subscriber…

    • Massive Iron
      Massive Iron  2 weeks back

    • Tito Real
      Tito Real  4 weeks back

      How do I enrolled in your program and how much does it cost?

    • John Louth
      John Louth  5 months back

      Hey what would you say my calorie in take should be a day I go gym six days a week I'm at 17% body fat and I'm 130 IBS

    • Christopher Huber
      Christopher Huber  5 months back

      Jeff your info is so damn solid. No absolutes, different training methods... a lot of your info is confirmed by my Hodgepodge lifting knowledge gathered from Omar Isuf, Silent Mike, Mark Bell, Furious Pete. Except you have an absolute command of so many different training methods. You are basically like a knowledge base of training information, and none of it ever feels like bro science.

    • shradha
      shradha  5 months back

      My upper chest is very much muscular as i have been working hard for like a month now to improve those upper pecs by various push up variants and using resistance bands... Now when I flex my chest, I find that my upper chest touch my chin and looks decent but my lower chest is very loose.. It is swollen when I don't flex and when i flex it is just very jiggly. What can i do to improve it? I am 15 years old and i dont want to stop my height growth. It would be very much appreciated if you could advice me some exercises without equipments and by just using my body weight to work on the problem. Thank you.

  • over seer
    over seer  2 days back

    How do you know when you are no longer a newbie and are done with the foundation training???

    • Alexander Terminassian

      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...........

      • Carlo Gambino
        Carlo Gambino  1 weeks back

        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 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.

        • Carlo Gambino
          Carlo Gambino  1 weeks back

          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 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.

          • Carlo Gambino
            Carlo Gambino  1 weeks back

            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....

            • Ibrahim Ajami
              Ibrahim Ajami  1 weeks back

              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

              • Mario Valento
                Mario Valento  1 weeks back

                You can slow down the speed of the video in the settings for the video

            • Young Jesus
              Young Jesus  2 weeks back

              lmao I'm too stupid to even understand what he's saying.

              • Joe
                Joe  2 weeks back

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

                • MrZer000
                  MrZer000  2 weeks back

                  What kinda drop sets are those, jumping between two weights? Dropset as i know:

                  • Tamer Said
                    Tamer Said  3 weeks back

                    5 min rest🤔🤔😃😃

                    • Randy Wiley
                      Randy Wiley  3 weeks back

                      Good stuff Jeff

                      • ICUS Free
                        ICUS Free  3 weeks back

                        Make it more simple your losing some of your audience.

                        • KD
                          KD  3 weeks back

                          5 min rest people will trip in the gym lol u done jet yeah 1 more set 10 min later fuck u

                          • canihazburgers
                            canihazburgers  4 weeks back

                            It took until 8:38...but there it is.

                            • sabin cheteg
                              sabin cheteg  4 weeks back

                              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?

                              • Gigi pigi
                                Gigi pigi  4 weeks back

                                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!

                                • Gaming FebZ
                                  Gaming FebZ  1 months back

                                  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.

                                  • Thomas D'Amico
                                    Thomas D'Amico  1 months back

                                    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?

                                    • Maxed Whip
                                      Maxed Whip  1 months back

                                      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.

                                      • Naren Diran
                                        Naren Diran  1 months back

                                        someone plz explain me scenario to do it.. please

                                        • dom peters
                                          dom peters  1 months back

                                          Made me wait a full 8.5 mins till you said " face pulls "... getting sloppy Jeff 🤣

                                          • Johnjay Pojas
                                            Johnjay Pojas  1 months back

                                            Jeff speaks faster than usual. Must be his Jaw Day.

                                            • OmniscientWarrior
                                              OmniscientWarrior  3 weeks back

                                              Or it is cardio day but he still has to make a video. And for Jeff, cardio day is when he does cardio for the whole day.

                                          • lenni
                                            lenni  1 months back

                                            This is stressful to watch

                                            • Nathan Chartrand
                                              Nathan Chartrand  1 months back

                                              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

                                              • Akilleus
                                                Akilleus  2 months back

                                                My name Jeff

                                                • Alfi
                                                  Alfi  2 months back

                                                  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?

                                                  • Randy
                                                    Randy  1 months back

                                                    set 2 fail at 9 reps. set 3 fail at 8 reps. when able to do all 3 sets no fail then add weight.

                                                • MrPtrlix
                                                  MrPtrlix  2 months back

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

                                                  • KiD KoOpa
                                                    KiD KoOpa  2 months back

                                                    Do you reccomend using all 4 scenarios in 1 session?

                                                    • joe osborn
                                                      joe osborn  2 months back

                                                      I've been stuck on bench for 80kg for 5 for a few months now anyone got any advice??

                                                      • barakau
                                                        barakau  2 months back

                                                        Muscle Guru

                                                        • John Baxter
                                                          John Baxter  2 months back

                                                          Can someone explain how he was calculating his numbers

                                                          • Rocknrolladube
                                                            Rocknrolladube  2 months back

                                                            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?

                                                            • SuperScyth
                                                              SuperScyth  2 months back

                                                              8:39 - We all had it coming

                                                              • Steve Bracken
                                                                Steve Bracken  2 months back


                                                                • George Georgio
                                                                  George Georgio  2 months back

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

                                                                  • 1bluegrassbass
                                                                    1bluegrassbass  2 months back

                                                                    Great video again Jeff !!
                                                                    Always quality information !

                                                                    • asfand yar
                                                                      asfand yar  2 months back

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

                                                                      • nig ward
                                                                        nig ward  2 months back

                                                                        See's white board
                                                                        *AH SHIT HERE WE GO AGAIN*

                                                                        • Albert Casper
                                                                          Albert Casper  2 months back

                                                                          I just sat thru a college trigonometry lecture...

                                                                          • Brian Marson
                                                                            Brian Marson  3 months back

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

                                                                            • Clyde Smith
                                                                              Clyde Smith  3 months back

                                                                              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

                                                                              • n s
                                                                                n s  3 months back

                                                                                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 8x4. for chest i do two exercises 8x4. for back i do 3 exercises 8x4.. is this okay? I have done this for 2 weeks now..

                                                                                • Peacemekka
                                                                                  Peacemekka  3 months back

                                                                                  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.

                                                                                  • alien lirim
                                                                                    alien lirim  3 months back

                                                                                    My brain is complicated fuck just gonna keep doing what I can

                                                                                    • Luis valencia
                                                                                      Luis valencia  3 months back

                                                                                      Your videos are the best bro keep up the good work

                                                                                      • C Manson
                                                                                        C Manson  3 months back

                                                                                        It's a full brain workout if you follow every little details he said.

                                                                                        • Ko Maed
                                                                                          Ko Maed  3 months back

                                                                                          🤯 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!