Jump Sets For Increasing Training Volume and Training Intensity
By Lee Hayward

As you get more advanced in your workouts you need to look for ways to progress past basic beginner weight training and get your muscles to perform more work in the same amount of time either by upping your training volume and / or training intensity. One remarkable technique for doing this is using "Jump Sets" which basically means pairing up 2 exercises for different muscle groups and performing sort of a super set by jumping back and forth between the 2 exercises.

Now technically "super sets" are 2 exercises performed for the same bodypart with little or no rest in between. So for example; you may do a set of bicep preacher curls and then immediately go to standing bicep curls. Then you would take your normal rest period before repeating the super set.

Super sets are a good way to increase your training intensity. However, what I'm about to describe to you is a simple way to increase BOTH training volume and training intensity simultaneously. And it requires no more time or effort then what you are putting into your workouts right now.

Jump sets are basically super sets between 2 different muscle groups with normal rest periods between sets. An example of this would be doing a set of bicep curls, rest a minute or so, then doing a set of tricep push downs, rest a minute, and then repeat. Jumping back and forth between the exercises until you complete the total desired number of sets.

Now at this point you may be saying to yourself "This is all fine and dandy... I've learned a new way to do my exercises, but how is this going to help me get bigger and stronger?"
Good question! I'm glad you asked...

When you are training 2 or more muscle groups in a single workout and performing your sets in the traditional fashion of doing all sets for one exercise before moving on to the next exercise, and then doing all exercises for one bodypart before moving on to the next bodypart. There is going to be a big imbalance between the level of training intensity that you can perform for each muscle group.

Obviously, you'll be able to train harder and lift more weight for the first muscle group, but as you progress through the workout your strength and energy levels will drop off. And by the time you get to the last bodypart you'll have very little energy left in the tank and you won't be able to give it 100% effort.

By using jump sets and alternating back and forth between bodyparts you are able to train both muscle groups with high intensity right from the start, and you'll also be able to keep up with higher training volume as well. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a strong believer in using jump sets like this in his training, as were many of the great old time bodybuilders.

Let me show you an example...

Let's say that you were going to train chest and back in the same workout and you were going to perform 5 sets of dips for the chest, and 5 sets of chin ups for the back.

If you were to perform them in straight sets the workout may go like this:

(Note: I'm just using these numbers as examples, your actual reps may be different based on your individual strength levels.)

Example of Straight Sets:

Set 1 15 reps
Set 2 15 reps
Set 3 12 reps
Set 4 10 reps
Set 5 8 reps

Chin Ups:
Set 1 12 reps
Set 2 10 reps
Set 3 8 reps
Set 4 6 reps
Set 5 5 reps

By the time you get to the last couple sets of each exercise your strength will really be dropping off due to muscle fatigue, especially when done is a straight set fashion.

But if you were to do the same number of sets for both exercises done in a Jump Set fashion you would be able to get more total reps and maintain higher strength levels into the final sets.

Example of Jump Sets:

Dips: Set 1 15 reps
Chin Ups: Set 1 15 reps

Dips: Set 2 15 reps
Chin Ups: Set 2 15 reps

Dips: Set 3 12 reps
Chin Ups: Set 3 12 reps

Dips: Set 4 12 reps
Chin Ups: Set 4 12 reps

Dips: Set 5 10 reps
Chin Ups: Set 5 10 reps

*Note: you would take a full rest break in between each set before moving onto the next set.

In the above example, you'll be able to perform higher reps into the latter sets then you normally would if you performed them straight through. Thus increasing both your training volume and intensity.

And the best part is that the workout time is the same, the total number of sets performed is the same, and the rest periods are the same. But the overall workload is higher for each exercise because you are resting one bodypart when you jump to another.

Jump sets work best for agonist and antagonist muscle groups.
Examples of agonist and antagonist muscle groups are:
chest & back
biceps & triceps
quadriceps & hamstrings
abs & lower back

Another thing that I want to mention is that this technique can be used throughout your entire workout. You don't have to limit it to just one exercise for each bodypart.

Some jump set examples are:
bench press & barbell rows
cable cross overs & lat pull downs
dumbbell curls & overhead dumbbell extensions
preacher curls & push downs
leg extensions & leg curls
sit ups & hyper extensions

And the list goes on and on...
It's only limited by your imagination and what gym equipment you have available.

Big exercises like squats and deadlifts do not work well for jump sets as these are the biggest and most demanding exercises you can do. It is best to do these 2 exercises by themselves so you can focus your attention and effort 100%.