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Shoulders & Arms Giant Set Workout for
Massive Gains

Giant sets are a classic bodybuilding technique for exhausting a muscle with considerable amounts of volume and tension (both of which are important for hypertrophy — making gains) while also making your training more efficient.

The term “Giant Set” was coined by the great Joe Weider over 50 years ago, and performing a giant set essentially entails hammering a muscle group with 3 or more exercises performed back-to-back with minimal rest in-between to maximize time under tension, increase the number of “effective reps”, and pump as much blood into the muscle, giving one of the best pumps you’ll ever experience in the gym.

For those stubborn body parts, giant sets are a fantastic way to spark new growth as they  totally fatigue a muscle while also providing an extremely unique training stimulus.

For those strapped for time and/or equipment, giant sets are also an ideal option as they cut down on the rest between sets, and since you’re stacking multiple moves together, they’ll make lighter weights feel heavier, due to the pre-exhaustion that occurs from the exercises being sequenced together with little rest.

Today, we’ve got a riff on the giant set style of training.

As we mentioned above, the traditional giant set usually blasts a single muscle with 3-4 exercises performed right after one another followed by a 2-3 minute break.

For this workout, you’ll be hammering the “glamor” muscles of the upper body — shoulders, biceps, and triceps with a trio of giant sets (tri-sets), each performed 2-3 times (depending on your time availability and work capacity).

Seems pretty simple in concept, but trust us, just because a workout may seem simple, doesn’t make it easy.

Let’s GO!

Program Overview

Truth be told, muscle building has gotten overly complicated — high volume vs low volume, high frequency vs low frequency, training to failure vs keeping reps in reserve.

The simple truth of that matter is that the average gym rat doesn’t need to bother themselves with these debates or engage in the mental gymnastics associated with trying to decipher who’s “right.”

At the end of the day, high reps, lower reps, heavy weight, lighter weight — it’s all meaningless if you don’t abide by the fundamental rule of muscle growth — progressive overload.

Put another way, if you’re not striving to add reps or weight to the bar each workout you won’t get the type of results you want, regardless of which training style you use.

You don’t need a lot of fancy gizmos, gadgets, and other nonsense to make gains. Basic exercises performed with proper technique and progressively overloaded over time all you need to push yourself to the limits and build a physique you can be proud of.

This workout doesn’t require any special equipment — if you have access to a standard gym, you’ll have everything you need to execute this workout.

If you’re training at home, you can substitute similar exercises uses a combination of dumbbells, bands, and/or bodyweight movements (e.g. pike press in lieu of overhead press).

The training program itself consists of 3 giant sets for the shoulders and arms. You’ll rotate from shoulders to biceps to triceps, taking only as much time as needed to get the right weight for the exercise before starting.

At the end of the giant set rest 90-120 seconds and get after it again.

One of the great things about this setup is that each muscle group gets a rest while another is working, which helps replenish energy stores (allowing you to continue to push harder in your workouts), while also saving you time in the gym!

Shoulders & Arms Giant Sets for Mass

Shoulders & Arms Giant Set Workout
Exercise Sets Reps
Giant Set #1
Seated Overhead Press 2-3 8-12
Seated Incline DB Curl 3 8-12
Incline DB Tricep Extension 3 10-12
Giant Set #2
Side Laterals 3 10-15
EZ Bar Curl 3 10-12
EZ Bar Skullcrusher 3 10-12
Giant Set #3
Face Pull w/ rope 2-3 12-15
Tricep Pushdown w/ rope 2-3 12-15
Hammer Curl w/ rope 2-3 12-15

Giant Set #1

We’ve all seen the guy or girl at the gym who’s going through their circuit training routine (or superset routine) and hogging three, four, and even sometimes five different pieces of equipment.

It’s downright obnoxious, not to mention rude.

For these giant sets, we’re keeping the equipment-hogging to a minimum by making smart use of exercises and equipment selection.

For this first tri-set, chances are you’ll only need two sets of dumbbells — one for the shoulder press and the other pair for the biceps and triceps movement.

Giant Set #2

With your heavy compound movement taken care of in the first superset, we can start to dial in on the smaller muscles of the shoulder with the side delts. Depending on your anatomy, you may need to experiment with the ideal angle at which to raise your arms to emphasize the side delts most effectively.

For those looking for overall shoulder development (as well as some added front delt work), you can use the 45-degree shoulder raise, as it serves as a nice middle ground between the standard lateral raise and front raise.

As with all lateral variations, make sure to lead with the elbows and don’t heave the weight up. Make the muscles do the work and focus on pausing at the top and slowly lowering the weights down to your sides.

For the EZ bar curls, if you start getting all herky-jerky with the movement and/or feel your lower back or front delts feeling tension, you’re going too heavy. Lower the weight and focus on using proper form.

Giant Set #3

The third and final giant set keeps you in place at the cable station.

To streamline things even more, we’ve swapped the order of the biceps and triceps exercises so you’ll go straight from face pulls into push downs with the rope attachment.

Once the push downs are finished, simply drop the cable attachment to the bottom of the column and bang out your hammer curls.

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