If you really want to know how to build muscle size and strength as fast as humanly possible, study the old-timers. Long before steroids and the BILLION dollar supplement industry, there was a time when men trained with nothing but heavy iron and a gruelling will to build size and strength. One very distinguishing factor between strength trainers and bodybuilders of yesterday and today was the intensity of their training.
One training technique they used that is very rare to see today is something called “Death Sets.” By the name alone, you can tell they definitely aren’t a walk in the park. But what they give you is results. Real results, and faster then any supplement or home gym can promise. In fact, applied properly with the right food to eat to build muscles, they can very well be the fasted way to build muscle and gain weight.
I had first read about death sets in a one of the greatest books ever written on strength training, Dinosaur Training, by a man named Brooks D. Kubik. If you are a hardgainer, or someone really serious about training for strength and size, then death sets can and will slap more pounds of muscle and strength on your frame then practically any other way of training. They are perhaps the most intense type of training you may ever do, but like I said, the results you get will be like nothing else. So if you really, really want to learn how to build muscle size and strength faster then ever before, and aren’t afraid of some hard work, these are for you.
So what exactly are death sets and how do you do them? Death sets were properly named because they trigger what Kubik calls the “Grow or Die” mechanism. Unlike conventional training, they really work you closer to your absolute limit like nothing else. Basically, death sets are heavy, high rep training. Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it? Normally, you either train with heavy weight and low reps, or with lighter weight and high reps. So how in the world do you train with heavy weight and still do a high amount of reps? Two factors: certain compound exercises and mental toughness. Death sets are not meant for your smaller muscle groups like arms or neck, but rather for the big muscle groups such as your legs and lower back.
Though you can apply death sets with most larger muscle groups, performing squats or deadlifts with them are by far the most gruelling, but effective. Since our legs can withstand much more physical endurance then the rest of our body, (given that we walk and stand on them all day long) it is very hard to reach their limit. And your body will do everything it can to get your mind to quit before your body. But you have to train your mind to withstand pain and accomplish your goal. Even though squats and deadlifts are known as mainly leg exercises, you can no doubt expect your whole body to grow. The intensity will include your whole body to come into action, and as a result the rest of your muscles will benefit, especially doing stiff-legged deadlifts.
Some examples of death sets are 15, 20 and even up to 30 reps of squats or deadlifts, but with HEAVY weight. Heavy enough to where you feel finished at the tenth rep. But this is where your will power and focus come into play. This is a good test of your mental strength, because as soon as you even think about quitting or giving up, your body will do it. This is why it is so important to mentally prep yourself before the set, and to stay in that animal instinct throughout the whole set.
The good news is that you only have to do one of these sets per exercise, two at the maximum. But after you are finished you will feel completely wiped out. You may throw up or feel like passing out, but as long as you complete the set and make sure to nourish your body after with plenty of good food and rest, your body will grow. You certainly won’t grow overnight, this is at least a two month process; but if you work hard enough and build up to heavy enough weight, your body will literally transform. Your mental toughness will also develop and you will eventually become as tough as nails both physically and mentally. Now that’s a true strength trainer!
So if you got the guts, give these a try, but remember not to do too many other exercises in your program along with them. You can very easily overtrain with these, especially if you are a hardgainer. Just a couple other major compound exercises for your upper body should be plenty, and don’t neglect proper nutrition and plenty of rest or you will be completely wasting your time and effort. This is perhaps the best way on how to build muscle size and strength fast.