As noted over the weekend, I was going to try and do a little something to not just keep my workouts from running long, but also to provide some conditioning work.
That was to do giant sets for my accessory movements.
So far, as of this writing, I’ve gotten precisely two sessions done with giant sets, so what follows are some very preliminary thoughts on the topic of giant sets and their role in conditioning.
First, let’s talk about what giant sets are for anyone reading who is unfamiliar.
A giant set is basically going between three or more exercises one right after the other as part of one giant…well…set. (just two exercises is called a “superset.”) For example, you can go from chin-ups to Romanian deadlifts to dumbbell rows, for example. You do those, then you get to take a rest.
For the uninitiated, they don’t sound like much. I mean, it’s the same work you were going to do, right?
In practice, though, they will kick. Your. Ass.
There’s really no other way to put it. If you’re deconditioned, they will make you hate life in ways you may well have never experienced. Further, it’s not the kind of conditioning that’s notorious for interfering with your strength/muscular increases. At least, that’s the theory.
The truth is, giant sets are conditioning. They’re conditioning that is slammed into your normal training, though, so it’s easy to forget about them as you look at your program.
What we need to ask ourselves is, are giant sets sufficient?
Looking at it from where I currently stand, I’m going to say “maybe.” Especially in conjunction with the light lifts for time in the new program.
Right now, giant sets provide all the conditioning work I can probably stand. It’s kicking my butt right now and I’m not sure additional conditioning would be beneficial. In fact, more conditioning work might be counterproductive. After all, I’m already going to be doing a version of high-intensity interval training four times per week.
But that’s right now.
Over time, your body adapts to stuff. It adapts to things and becomes more efficient at it, thereby negating the benefits of what you’re doing. That’s why just running two miles a day stops being beneficial after a short time.
I can easily see giant sets hitting that same point.
Yeah, you’re adding weight and all that, and you can reduce your rest time, but at some point, you’re just not getting much more in the way of conditioning. Do giant sets still condition you?
My thinking is that they do, but they will no longer be sufficient to do more than maintain your current level of conditioning.
So what then?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’ll probably add in some jump rope training and maybe some plyometrics into the mix, as well as potentially adding some kettlebell swings into the routine.
But that’s a ways down the road. Several weeks at a minimum.
For now, I think this will do the trick nicely.
When you start trying to get conditioned, you need to start relatively slow. You don’t go from your couch to running a marathon by starting off with five-mile runs. You run a bit, then expand what you’re able to do.
For me, giant sets are just that. They’re conditioning for now. Then, I’ll add more as I need to.
The truth is, I will likely never be satisfied with my conditioning. I will always want more, pretty much because I look at conditioning as I do ammo.
What I mean by that is that no one ever survived a gunfight and said, “I wish I’d carried less ammo.” On the same token, no one ever thinks they have too much conditioning.
My goal is to have sufficient conditioning and strength where I don’t have to wonder if I have enough of either.
No, I won’t get there purely with giant sets, but I do see them as a good start. If not, then I can step back and try something else. That’s the great thing about training. If something doesn’t work, you can adjust fire and do something different.
For me, though, I’m confident that giant sets are a huge leap forward for me and my training.