Tri-Sets For Workout Efficiency

Originally Published on If you are like most of the population, you typically lift in “straight” sets; that is 2-4 sets of one exercise, then on to the next.  An adventurous few may occasionally “superset” two exercises, typically with opposing muscle groups, although unfortunately this usually takes place on “arm” day and involves “bi’s and tris.”  The purpose of this article is to present a much more efficient approach that can be utilized in any program effectively and save time while increasing performance. The tri-set is exactly what is sounds like.  Three exercises done in a cluster after another for a specified number of sets.  The advantage to this setup is an increased rest time between the same exercise but the same amount of rest between activity.  An example of a recent program I was using looks like this: A1.  Speed Deadlift Rest 60s A2.  Pullup Rest 60s A3.  Landmine Anti-Rotation What I have done is combine a lower body pull or hip dominant exercise (deadlift) with an upper body vertical pulling exercise (pullup) and a core exercise (landmine).   So now I have essentially three times the rest between deadlift sets yet only 60s between exercises.  So I get the cardio and metabolic benefit of shorter rest without sacrificing the quality of the lift.  In some situations  I may add a stretch(quad-set) as a separate exercise or use the stretch during the rest period.   One important note here for those doing power work such as Olympic lifts or plyos; generally  they are not included in a tri-set because of potential technical breakdown. So now that the benefit of the tri-set’s have been explained, here’s how to apply them in a less than ideal scenario like a crowded commercial gym where leaving three exercises setup may not be possible.  In this situation its advantageous to pick three exercises that can be done with one piece of equipment.  Here is an example of a tri set that can be done with one set of dumbbells and a bench: A1. Dumbbell Bench A2. Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat A3. Shoulder-Elevated Hip Lift For those working out on the road or at home with minimal equipment, here’s a good pull day with a TRX Suspension Trainer. (On a side note, the TRX is probably the best investment you can make if you travel a lot; literally an entire gym in a bag for about $180 bucks) A1. TRX Inverted Row A2. TRX Leg Curl A3. TRX Kneeling Rollout Hopefully this article will get some people away from the straight set mentality and create a little more efficiency in everyone’s workout.  Also, this method should promote a shift towards more total body workouts rather than body-part splits that are ineffective for the majority of the population as well as doing little from a metabolic and weight-loss standpoint.  Look in the programs section for a complete example of a recent program I was using with tri-sets and complexes.