JUMP SETS to Increase Training Volume & Intensity

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 killer trick 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:

“Thanks Lee, that’s all fine and dandy…
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 higher 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 in his training, as were many of the great old time bodybuilders. They would often pair up training 2 opposing muscle groups and work them back and forth set for set.

Arnold Doing Pull Ups & Dips

How To Use Jump Sets…

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 pull 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 – 12 reps
Set 3 – 10 reps
Set 4 – 8 reps
Set 5 – 6 reps
Pull Ups:
Set 1 – 10 reps
Set 2 – 8 reps
Set 3 – 6 reps
Set 4 – 4 reps
Set 5 – 2 reps
Pull Ups

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
Pull Ups: Set 1 – 12 reps

Dips: Set 2 – 12 reps
Pull Ups: Set 2 – 10 reps

Dips: Set 3 – 10 reps
Pull Ups: Set 3 – 8 reps

Dips: Set 4 – 8 reps
Pull Ups: Set 4 – 6 reps

Dips: Set 5 – 6 reps
Pull Ups: Set 5 – 4 reps

*Take a full 90 second rest break in between each set before moving onto the next set.

By using JUMP SETS you’ll be able to perform higher reps into the latter sets with the second exercise than you normally would if you performed both exercises in a straight set fashion. Thus increasing your training volume and intensity.

And the best part is that the workout time stays the same, the total number of sets performed is the same, and the rest periods are the same. But the overall workload (number of reps performed) is higher because you are resting one body part in between “Jumping” to the other.

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

This technique can be used throughout your entire workout. You are not limited to just doing it for one pair of exercises.

Some good Jump Set examples are:
– Bench Press & Barbell Rows
– Cable Cross Overs & Lat Pull Downs
– Barbell Curls & Tricep Push Downs
– Bicep Dumbbell Curls & Tricep Dumbbell Kick Backs
– 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%.

Cycling Your Workouts For Consistent Muscle Gains…

Structuring an effective and well balanced weight training program with the proper exercises, sets, and reps is NOT an easy task. And to make things even more challenging, regardless of which program you follow (even if it’s a very good one) your body will eventually plateau to that program and your gains will come to a screeching halt.

The secret to building muscle is a non stop process of starting a “new workout program” and adapting, growing, and plateauing to that workout program – then repeating the process all over again. You adapt, grow, plateau, change your approach, and repeat. Every single successful bodybuilder on the planet has gone through their own unique variation of this process.

Now you can try and figure this all out for yourself through tedious trial and error. But if you would like some help with the process of stacking complementary workout programs back to back for consistent muscle building progress I suggest you join the Total Fitness Bodybuilding “Inner Circle” Coaching Club. Because as a member of the “Inner Circle” you’ll get a Brand New Workout every single month! WOTM-blue-300

This takes all the confusion and guess work out of selecting new training programs to follow because each month you’ll get a new program that is specifically designed to build on the progress that you made from the previous months program. This allows you to make steady gains in muscle and strength month after month.

If you would like more information about the Total Fitness Bodybuilding “Inner Circle” Coaching Club and try it out for yourself, risk free, just click on the link below…

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About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you... lee@leehayward.com


  • Lee,

    When you perform jump sets something awesome happens – you prime the antagonistic muscle group to be able to handle a greater load.

    For example, let’s look at Pull Ups and Bench Press.

    Perform a set of Pull Ups.

    Once you have done so, your chest is actually being “primed” to handle a greater weight on the Bench Press than if you had not performed that set of Pull Ups.

    That is why it is great to pair antagonistic muscle groups like Back/Chest, Bi’s/Tri’s, and Quads/Hamstrings.

  • Zuki


    So do you do this:
    Rest 90s
    Rest 90s

    Or this…?:
    Rest 90s



  • Blacky

    Excellent! Very refreshing approach. I read all the way to the bottom of the page. 🙂

  • Zuki,

    You’ll get more reps performed if you rest between each set. So do a set of dips, rest, set of pull ups, rest, etc.

  • Danny


    Z – The first one, as Lee mentioned above

    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

    it will take the same amount of time as doing normal workout.

  • Zuki


    Thanks Lee & Danny!

    Lee your stuff is always a good read?


  • Zuki


    Thanks Lee & Danny!

    Lee your stuff is always a good read!!


  • Sam

    Hi Lee, great article
    If you’re a simple guy like me who desires to become really strong without steroids, then all you need are the simple exercises which everybody knows, and rest.