Trisets - Unleashing Their Power to Build More Muscle
A triset involves performing three exercises back-to-back with as little rest as possible between each exercise. In other words, the rest period between exercises one and two as well as two and three should only be the duration it takes to set up for the next movement.
Only after completing the third movement should you take an appreciable amount rest. Depending on the triset this rest period may be one to five minutes in duration depending on the exercise and load selection.
Related: My Top 10 Workout Intensifiers for Enhanced Gains
The exercise selection for a triset can vary. You may choose to perform a triset in which every exercise targets the same muscle group or you may choose three exercise to target three distinct muscle groups.
Trisets targeting the same muscle group are best suited for those following body part splits. Trisets targeting different muscle groups are best suited for those following full body or upper/lower splits.
The structure for a triset can also vary in terms of exercise order. To move the maximal amount of poundage with the greatest force you should perform the three exercises in order of most to least technical. An example might be an explosive compound movement, followed by a strength-based compound movement, followed by an isolation movement in a moderate rep range.
Those looking to fatigue and target every muscle fiber in a muscle group should perform the least technical movement first and progress to the most technical movement.
An example might be an isolation movement in the higher rep range followed by an isolation movement in the moderate rep range and concluding with a compound movement in the lower rep ranges.
By fatiguing the muscles with isolation movements first you will be unable to move as much weight on the compound movement yet still receive significant benefits.
If you decide to progress from least to most technical then avoid placing an Olympic movement like a snatch or jerk variation at the end. The likelihood of injury dramatically increases due to form breakdown and fatigue from performing these technical lifts.
The Benefits of TrisetsTrisets add unique stimulus, variety, and benefit regardless of your goal. Those training for hypertrophy and struggling to increase the size of their muscles will benefit from the time-under-tension and volume that accompanies the performance of three exercises and minimal rest.
By performing a more volume in less time you will also increase your workout density, which is a measure of sets and reps over time. As you increase your workout density you will also find your work capacity and endurance increase. Performing trisets using higher rep ranges will boost your endurance even faster.
Trisets provide exceptional benefit if you're struggling to bring up the size and strength of a lagging body part or muscle group. By performing the exercises from least to most technical you can isolate a muscle to the maximum and recruit all available muscle fibers. Performing trisets in this fashion will also improve your mind-muscle connection between which can help you bust through muscle and strength plateaus.
If you've ever performed trisets then you know that they're downright brutal on the muscles and cardiovascular system. Trisets are perfect for those looking to maximize fat loss without sacrificing lean mass.
By performing a significant number of repetitions in a short period using a variety of movement patterns, you'll notice an increased heart rate. This increased heart rate translated to an increased calorie burn which can help you blast through fat loss plateaus.
Sample Trisets WorkoutsTo get you started I've provided a table for each muscle group with sample exercises, set parameters, and rep ranges. I encourage you to experiment with a variety of trisets and choose those which align closest with your goals.
If you are unable to or do not have the equipment to perform one of the exercises listed below then feel free to substitute an equivalent exercise. The movements in trisets may ascend least to most technical or descend from most to least technical.
Perform each triset at least three times, resting one to five minutes between each. Ensure the rest is minimal, preferably non-existent between exercises one and two as well as two and three. Increase the working weight for an exercise when you can perform the upper limit repetitions for that exercise.
- Front Squat - 5 to 8 reps
- Walking Lunges - 10 to 12 reps per leg
- Seated Leg Extensions - 15 to 20 reps
- Lying Hamstring Curl - 8 to 10 reps
- Barbell Romanian Deadlift - 6 to 8 reps
- Glute Ham Raise - As many reps as possible (AMRAP). For most this will be only a few.
- Barbell Hip Thrusts - 10 to 12 reps
- Low Pulley Cable Pullthroughs - 12 to 15 reps
- Kettlebell Swings - 20 to 25 reps
CalvesNote: Hold the top and bottom of each repetition for at least two seconds.
- Standing Calf Raises - 5 to 8 reps
- Leg Press Calf Raises - 20 to 25 reps
- Seated Calf Raises - 12 to 15 reps
- Mid Pulley Cable Fly - 12 to 15 reps
- Low Incline Dumbbell Bench Press - 10 to 12 reps
- Barbell Bench Press - 4 to 6 reps
- Bent Barbell Row - 8 to 10 reps
- Wide Pronated Grip Lat Pulldown - 12 to 15 reps
- Low Pulley Cable Row - 6 to 8 reps
- Chest Supported Reverse Dumbbell Fly - 15 to 20 reps
- Standing Dumbbell Lateral Raise - 15 to 20 reps
- Seated Barbell Behind the Neck Press - 6 to 8 reps
- Close Supinated Grip Chin Up - 4 to 6 reps (add weight via vest, weight belt, chains, or dumbbell if necessary)
- Incline Dumbbell Curl - 8 to 10 reps
- Wide Grip Barbell Curl - 12 to 15 reps
- Tricep Rope Pushdown - 10 to 12 reps
- Seated EZ Bar Overhead Extension - 12 to 15 reps
- Close Grip Bench Press - 5 to 8 reps
- Power Cleans from Hang Position - 4 to 6 reps
- Facepulls - 12 to 15 reps
- Trap Bar Shrugs - 8 to 10 reps with a three second hold at the top of each rep
- Dumbbell Farmer's Walk - 50 meters without dropping the weight
- Reverse Barbell Curl - 10 to 12 reps
- Barbell Wrist Curl - 25 to 30 reps
- Kneeling Ab Wheel Rollouts - 4 to 6 reps
- Hanging Leg Raises - 10 to 12 reps
- Rope Crunches - 20 to 25 reps