There are certain techniques in bodybuilding that are only used by a small fraction. Compound sets are one of those techniques. You probably won’t see compound sets used by strongmen, crossfitters, bootcampers, yoga practitioners or any of those so called “xtreme” sports “athletes”.
You have to want results badly to do these. AND if you are doing compound sets with heavy weight, you have to be a little bit crazy. But that’s the premise behind this website. We are a little bit crazy. This is our reality. We do this type of training because we want results. We don’t give a shit whether the camera is rolling or not. We’re not posting this shit on instagram or google plus to impress anyone.
We just want results. And we’ll fight for them. And we’ll try anything to grow. Bring the lactic acid, bring the soreness. We don’t need a nerd in a white lab coat to tell us what works or doesn’t work. We tell the nerd what works.
In this instance, I just so happened to have my video camera at Metroflex Gym in Austin, Texas. Ed Brown, Jr and Ivan Meraz were training legs. They were using compound sets.
Compound sets are very similar to supersets, except you work the same muscle group. Pulldowns and cable rows could comprise your compound set, or a shoulder press and shoulder raise. Again, little to no rest in between sets; the goal is to move from one exercise to the next as quickly as good form allows. Like supersets, compound sets are a tremendous time saver. Because you are focusing on the same muscles during each exercise, you will not be able to use quite as much weight as a standard set. But compound sets give you the advantage of working your muscles from a variety of angles, a key factor in avoiding the dreaded “plateau.”
After you do your main mass building exercise like squats, hack squats, front squats, etc; you throw in a couple of compound sets. Ed and Ivan did:
- Leg Press for 10 reps with around 1000lbs. Bring your legs down until you feel your lower back starting to rotate upwards. That’s far enough. Guys have broken ribs by trying to go down too far. 1000lbs is a lot of weight for 10 reps.
- Leg Extensions for 3 drop sets. Start with your heaviest weight and do 10 reps. Drop the weight by 10% or so and do more reps. Drop the weight again and knock out 20 reps with a slow negative rep on the last set. If you have anything left, try and throw up some partial reps. Speaking of “throw up”…you just might. Especially after the second compound set. Rest 90 seconds in between compound sets.
You don’t need anymore than 2 compound sets. If you can do more than 2, then you didn’t use enough intensity or enough weight or both.
In the video below, you’ll see compound sets, drop sets and negatives in action. All 3 of these techniques can help you break through any lapses in muscle growth that you may be experiencing. Use them conservatively at first. Try one of the 3 techniques in the beginning and then in time, you can add in a second technique. Both Ed and Ivan have 30 years of experience between the two of them. They’ve earned the right.
Bodybuilding is about experimenting, intensity, and pushing yourself beyond your current limits both physically and mentally. If you can’t push yourself, you’ll never reach your maximum potential. You can see the intensity in the video clip below. This is bodybuilding at it’s purest. It doesn’t come from a blog post, a magazine with fake photoshoots or some keyboard warrior on a forum or on social media. It happens in the gym.
This is the reality of bodybuilding.
Ivan Meraz is a personal trainer and competition coach in the Austin, Texas area. He is a national level competitor and has been bodybuilding for 13 years. Originally from Mexico, he moved to Texas as a boy. He was a skater as a young boy and a soccer player. He can be reached at Ivan.firstname.lastname@example.org or via his website at www.hardbodiesworldgym.com
Ed Brown, Jr is a master impersonator.
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