Daily Archives: June 7, 2011

Strength Training: Giant Sets

I think I’ve tried every form of strength training out there since I began exercising regularly nearly a decade ago.

I began by tossing around some dinky 3-5lb weights when I first dabbled in strength training when I was 17 and 18 years old.  I did the typical moves that targeted the areas I wanted to “tone” such as tricep kickbacks and bicep curls.

Later I found out that if I really wanted to “tone” I’d have to really challenge myself and lift heavier weights to build muscle.  Enter the years of wanting to do a Figure Competition.   I became obsessed with only lifting heavy and thought this was THE way to exercise.


But after complete burnout from that phase in my life, I realized that there are many ways to strength train.  You don’t always have to be lifting at your max and higher reps do have there place and are in fact helpful.  Really, it comes down to your own goals and what you want to accomplish. 

Currently I don’t lift my heaviest in the gym.  For the past few years I’ve been maintaining my level of strength and endurance with a mix of moderate weight lifting and cardiovascular exercise 5-6 days a week.  My goal right now is to maintain my current level of fitness.  It could change and that spark may ignite and I’ll want to start heavy dead lifting and squatting.  But at the moment, I’m content with my current schedule.

Giant Sets

One of the ways I like to incorporate strength training is to do Giant Sets.  A giant set is choosing 4 or more exercises to do back to back with no rest in between the exercises.  It’s like circuit training, moving quickly from one exercise to the next, with the only real difference being that it’s all strength moves.  Circuit training can involve bursts of cardio.

I teach a Total Body Toning class at work and last week I put my class through this Giant Set Workout:

Equipment needed: Dumbbells or barbell and a mat

Group 1: 2 sets:

Group 2: 2 sets:

Group 3: 2 sets:

Group 4: 2 sets:

Group 5: 1 set:

This particular workout takes about an hour with a warm up and cool down.  I run them through each set two times before moving on to the next set. I kept the reps higher and included some exercises to do based on time (1 minute).  It’s just another way to mix it up when strength training!

I like doing giant set workouts because it keeps you moving and even adds a cardio aspect from having to go through each movement back to back and doing higher reps.   It’s a great addition to any strength program and a nice way to mix things up from doing straight sets.  Check out my previous post on giant sets to see another workout!

Plan Healthy Weight Update

Since last week my body has fallen back into it’s healthy range! I think a lot of it was post-vacation bloat and so those few pounds went away just from cutting out the high calorie food I was eating at the beach and returning to my normal eating patterns (Which translates to less seafood bisque and chips and beer on the beach and more fresh fruits and vegetables 😉 )

Less of these...

And more of these!


This increase in weight taught me how important it is to NOT beat yourself up about it and to take steps in the right direction to eat better and more mindfully.  I believe when you treat your body with respect your body will fall where it’s supposed to naturally.

Question of the Day:

What is your favorite way to incorporate strength training into your routine? I love super sets, tri-sets and giant sets…basically anything that keeps me moving!