Tri-Sets Workout: Unconventional Compound Sets for Building Muscle

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Finding it tough to make gains with the limited equipment setup you have access to? Tired of being told that you “have” to have a barbell and squat rack to get big? Or maybe you just enjoy the comfort of working out at home and don’t want a huge rack set up, but still want to gain some decent size.

Well, we’ve got the answer for you, and it’s a training protocol known as the tri-set.

What’s a Tri-Set?

The phrase “tri-set” was coined by the great Joe Weider more than 50 years ago. Basically, a tri-set is a superset on steroids, it involves assaulting a single muscle group with 3 exercises consecutively with minimal rest in-between to maximize muscle breakdown and blood flow to the area.

Related: My Top 10 Workout Intensifiers for Enhanced Gains

This is a fantastic way stimulate growth in any part of the body by completely and totally fatiguing a group of muscles and provide an extremely unique training stimulus. But don’t kid yourself, this isn’t going to be easy!

With a twist…

The traditional tri-set usually entails hitting a single muscle group (i.e. chest) with 3-4 exercises in a row followed by a break lasting anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes.

Here, since we’re strapped for equipment, we’re going to put a slight “twist” on the traditional tri-set. Instead of attacking a single muscle group with a tri-set, we’re going to hit ALL of your pushing (or pulling) muscles in one tri-set.

An example set would be dumbbell bench press into side laterals into lying triceps extensions. So, you’re starting with the strongest muscle group and working our way to the weakest one as you go through each tri-set. This creates a lot of muscle breakdown and will make those “light weights” you have incredibly heavy the more you get into this workout.

Equipment Needed

DumbbellsThis program is for the person who can’t afford a gym membership, doesn’t have access to a barbell, or just enjoys working out in the comfort of their home gym, yet doesn’t want or can’t have a full fledged power rack at their beck and call.

All you’ll need is:

  • Dumbbells
  • Pull-Up Bar
  • Adjustable Bench

Is that it?!

Yep! You don’t need a lot of fancy gizmos, gadgets, and other non-sense to make gains. This simple equipment setup is all you need to push yourself to the limits and build a physique you can be proud of.

High reps, low reps it doesn’t matter. The prevailing concept to improving your strength and size is progressive overload — that means more reps, more sets, or more weight (or any combination of the three.

Keep doing that and you’ll be shocked at the minimal amount of equipment you need to make gains.

Rest Periods

This workout is all about completely breaking down a given set of muscles. To do that with relatively minimal weight and equipment, that means increasing the time under tension and volume while minimizing rest. Add all of those elements together, and you get a level of muscle breakdown you’ve likely never experienced.

The training will be gruesome, but in the end, this is how you build size and strength when strapped for equipment.

Tri-Sets – 3 Day Workout Program Outline

  • Day 1 – Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps
  • Day 2 – Back & Biceps
  • Day 3 – Legs

Each workout with contain a number of tri-sets that will target a given muscle grouping. For example, Day 1 hits all of your “pushing” muscles, Day 2 hits your “pulling” muscles, and Day 3 is obviously all about the legs.

Note: Exercises are organized in groups of three. So proceed from one exercise to the next with as minimal a break in between as possible. Then after the completion of every 3rd exercise rest for 60-90 seconds, then it’s time to get back to work!

Monday
Chest, Shoulders & Triceps
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Triset:
 Dumbbell Bench Press  3  8-12  0
 Seated Arnold Press  3  8-12  0
 Close Grip Push-Ups  3  AMAP  60-90
 Triset:
 Incline Dumbbell Press  3  8-12  0
 Side Laterals  3  12-15  0
 Lying Tricep Extensions  3  8-12  60-90
 Triset:
 Decline Push Ups (1.5 reps)  3  AMAP  0
 Dumbbell Rear Delt Flies  3  12-15  0
 Bench Dips w/ Feet Elevated on Chair  3  AMAP  60-90
Wednesday
Back and Biceps
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Triset:
 Wide Grip Pull Ups  3  10  0
 Chest-Supported Incline Dumbbell Row  3  8-12  0
 Incline Dumbbell Curls  3  8-12  60-90
 Triset:
 Chin Ups  3  10-12  0
 Reverse Grip 2-Dumbbell Row  3  10-12  0
 Standing Dumbbell Curl  3  12-15  60-90
 Triset:
 Dumbbell Pullover  3  10-12  0
 Dumbbell 1-Arm Row  3  10-12  0
 Alternating Hammer Curls  3  AMAP  60-90

 Triset:

Friday
LEgs
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
 Triset:
 Front Squat  3  8-10  0
 Alternating Dumbbell Lunge (Reps are for each leg)  3  10-12  0
 Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift  3  10-12  60-90
 Triset:
 Dumbbell Box Squat (Reps are for each leg)  3  10-12  0
 Bulgarian Split Squat (Reps are for each leg)  3  10-12  0
 Single Leg Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift  3  12-15  60-90
 Triset:
 Standing Calf Raises (Toes Pointed Out)  3  20-25  0
 Standing Calf Raises (Toes Straight Ahead)  3  20-25  0
 Standing Calf Raises (Toes Pointed In)  3  20-25  60-90

You don’t need a gym membership or your own fully decked-out home gym to make appreciable gains in size and strength. All it takes is some creativity and grit on your part to make the most of what you have an find a way to continually challenge the muscles.

Tri-set training is extremely taxing from both a mental and physical standpoint, but put in the time and effort, and the results will unfold in no time.

Give this a shot the next time you’re strapped for equipment or when you feel like taking a break from the super heavy lifting to challenge your body with a brand new stimulus and continue on the path to endless gains!

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