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Weight training: types of sets

Lots of us will use January as a bit of a health and fitness re-set. Whilst I know you’re fab just as you are, who am I to stand here between you and any positive changes that you might want to make!

So part of that health and fitness kick might be becoming a member at a gym... We all know that the scariest section of the gym is the weights section. That’s even true for me some days! However, we do know, that regularly lifting heavy sh*t is really bloody good for us.

The tricky bit is putting all of those exercises that you’ve saved on Instagram into an effective programme. So to help, here is a little guide to a few different methods of weight training


Straight sets

Does what it says on the tin: the same number of repetitions, for a number of sets, at the same weight. E.g. 5 sets of 5 repetitions at 20kgs. This is good for all types of training, whether you’re working at the endurance end of the spectrum, aiming for volume, or for strength gains.



Pyramids can be either ascending or descending, or both – here’s an example of what a pyramid might look like:

5 reps @ 20kg

4 reps @ 25kg

3 reps @ 30kg

2 reps @ 35kg

1 rep @ 40kg

Pyramid sets are good as you can find yourself shifting more weight by the end as you’re well warmed up, but not totally exhausted.


Super sets

Super sets involve working two exercises back to back with no rest. For example, a set of bench press and a set of squats with no rest in between.

For agonist super sets you pair two exercises that work the same muscle groups (e.g. squats and lunges).

For antagonist super sets you pair two exercise that work opposite muscle groups (e.g. bicep curls and tricep extensions).

This way of working is very efficient, as you aren’t taking the rest between exercises.


Tri sets / giant sets

Combining three exercises back to back is a tri set, four or more is a giant set. This way of working increases the intensity of the workout. It can be a bit tricky if you need lots of bits of equipment in a busy gym.


Drop sets

When you reach the point of failure (meaning that the muscles are so fatigued that you can’t continue to lift the weight) with one weight, then reduce the weight and continue the set with the lower weight (and again if you can). This way of working is good for increasing muscular endurance.


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