A group of repetitions done one after the other with very little rest in between.
When multiple sets are performed for the same movement or muscle group, a certain duration of rest is taken between each set. This duration of rest depends on the difficulty of the set in terms of the weight used, the closeness of the set to failure, and the trainee’s goals.
Types of sets
While the base definition of a set is the same, there are different types of sets that can be used in training:
A limited effort set done by using a lower weight than the target weight of a working set and performing repetitions that are far from failure.
Warmup sets, as the name suggests, warm-up the joints and muscles involved in an exercise in preparation for increased weight or movement speed without causing significant fatigue.
A high effort set done by performing repetitions with a chosen weight until reaching a point of near or complete failure.
Sufficiently challenging working sets stimulate physical adaptations such as muscle growth and strength.
Multiple working sets where the weight is initially low, then the weight is increased each set until reaching the top set, then the weight is decreased each set thereafter.
Pyramid sets are used to stimulate various types of physical adaptations within the same session.
Multiple working sets that begin with a normal set, but instead of resting afterwards, the weight is immediately decreased to around 80% of the previous weight, and a similar number of repetitions is performed. Dropsets typically contain 2-5 subsets.
While not an optimal method of training, dropsets can produce a similar level of physical adaptations as normal sets but using much less time.
Multiple working sets but instead of performing a single set, resting, then performing another set of the same exercise, two exercises are alternated with minimal rest. For example, a set of biceps curls, followed immediately by a set of triceps extensions, rest, then repeat.
Supersets can reduce total session time since a separate movement can be trained while the muscles involved in the first movement rest. Other superset variations involve focusing on different ranges of motion of the same muscle, or moving from a compound to isolation movement such as bench press then triceps extensions.
Multiple working sets, identical in concept to supersets, but instead of alternating between two exercises, three or more exercises are cycled. They are equivalent to circuit training which is typically used for cardiovascular adaptations.
Like dropsets, giant sets can significantly shorten session time by training different movements while the muscles used in the previous movements rest.