“As a 51-year-old fitness model, if I can give hope and teach health to other women, I have done my job.” –    PENNY PRICE MCINTOSH

Giant sets, big results

A giant set is what it sounds like: a set of three to five exercises performed in a row with little to no rest in between. “The sets alter two workout variables in one shot, increasing the volume while decreasing the rest periods,” says Jim Smith, CSCS, from Elmira, New York. “The benefit of changing these parameters is increased metabolism and greater lean muscle development.” Giant sets force your muscles to work beyond their normal capacity, which breaks them down and forces them to adapt. This is great news for anyone who wants to push past a plateau and boost lagging or underdeveloped areas.


Pump it up

You may think that achieving a muscle ‘pump’ is only for hardcore bodybuilders, but your tris can certainly benefit from this physical response. A pump occurs when a hard-working muscle is inundated with blood – your body’s way of delivering fuel and oxygen to that area while removing waste products. The production of lactic acid within your muscles reduces your blood pH level, causing your body to produce the human growth hormone (HGH) as a result. Since HGH has been linked to both reduced body fat and increased muscle mass, this is beneficial on many levels. “Since giant sets challenge the muscles more and push the level of lactic acid in the body, they are ideal for eliciting this response,” notes Smith. Lactic acid also signals your body to produce testosterone, which is your muscle- building best friend.


Set up for success

Since you’ll want to spend as little time as possible going from one exercise to the next, try to arrange your exercise stations close to one another. When getting ready, gather all the handles and weights you’ll need, and set up shop close to the cable machine so that you can go through the moves without pausing. And having your equipment ready to go also provides another fringe benefit. “Because you’re moving continuously, your heart rate remains elevated and you burn more calories,” says Ben Bruno, a strength and conditioning coach in North Andover, Massachusetts. “This, combined with a clean diet, can help you get lean and add definition to your physique.”


Plan of attack

During your sets (find your level-specific plan above, right), you’ll use a cable machine and dumbbells. Grab weights that aren’t too heavy; for example, if you normally use a 16kg weight for overhead dumbbell extensions, use one that is 11-14kg. Do all the reps for your first move, then go to the next. After one cycle, rest; repeat until you are through.


Cable rope pressdown

TARGET MUSCLES: triceps brachi (lateral head emphasis)


SET-UP: Face the cable machine with a rope attachment positioned high. Hold one end in each hand, arms bent and tuck your upper arms close to your sides.


ACTION: Press the rope handles downward by straightening your arms. Slowly return to the starting position without letting weights touch the stack.


Tip: At the bottom, drive the ends of the rope out to the sides.


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