Posted 05 July 2012 by Dre Farnell

Compound Sets: For Cut And

Jacked Chest And Triceps

Compound Setting For Ripped Chest & Triceps

Compound setting is truly one of the best and fastest ways to add thickness and mass to your entire body, one part at a time. As you may well know packing on rock hard lean muscle mass without the fat that can accompany it is something that we all want to achieve as bodybuilders. Super setting is one of the most common ways to achieve this goal, but compound setting will get you there quick fast and in a hurry!

Compound setting is systematically placing together two or more different exercises together to comprise a set. This targets and decimates a single body part in quick and brutal fashion. Quick and brutal is the way to go simply because you don’t have hours to waste taking abnormally long breaks checking out the “scenery” in the gym or engaging in small talk. This is a technique that will totally fatigue the muscle using various, exercises, angles and speeds at once. For the chest and triceps, I am going to structure the routine in a way that gets you the most muscle fiber fatigue for your buck. An important thing to look at when training is rep speed and the lifting load that you use. Manipulate these to variables to get the most out of your lifting session.

These are the two most important variables to be manipulated to your advantage. There are two dominant types of muscle fibers. You have your type 2b (fast twitch) and your type 1a (slow twitch) muscle fibers. Each muscle group of your body genetically has various amounts of each. Your goal should be to fatigue them all!! That amount of fatigue will make them grow. Tear them down and then give them the recovery and nutrition to come back stronger and thicker than ever. Rep speed is key, the best way to tear up a specific muscle group and make them scream is to vary the rep speed in the middle of a compound set. For example let’s create a compound set of two exercises that we all have done. The flat bar bell bench press and the standing cable fly (from high to low). Choose a weight that you know that you can get 3 sets of 8 - 10 reps with but not 3 sets of 12 with for the Bench press. Do the flies with about half of your 1 rep max.

I know… but put the ego down for a sec..., by the 3rd set you will see why. Remember volume of weight moved is the key. The higher the volume (weight times reps) Aiming to get 10 on each set will be key as well…8 must be the lowest that you are willing to accept in any given set. The reason that the load is important is because you want to totally drain the muscles fibers (used in that exercise) by the third set. The heavier load choice on the first exercise is key, this is because you should be fresher for the first exercise. Try your best to keep the weigh constant once you get started. Only take weight off if it is absolutely impossible for you to complete the desired amount of reps. You may feel like you can go up after that first set of bench but do not start with more than 75% Max bench because the flies will get you! Also choose the exercise that you are better at and can move the most weight at to be the heavier of the two exercises.


Perform a Quick and powerful set of bench press… all ten reps. Lift fast and heavy to recruit the type 2b muscle fibers and then immediately go to the fly machine and get into the start position. Start position should be maintained with the weights off of the stack… from the time that you touch the handles you should “Own The Weight”. There should be more tension on your chest muscles that only contract from 180 degrees and fwd. Not so much on your anterior delts (shoulders). At normal 2 second pace First fly with one arm… then the other… then do a full fly crossing both wrists. Count that as one rep. Flying with one arm at a time does 2 things… it drags the set out time-wise and doubles the reps torturing the chest muscles because of the tension maintained for the longer period of time. As a parting gift it challenges your core as you stabilize the single armed flies. Repeat both exercises 2 more times taking the chest to muscle failure.

Collateral Damage

In the 3 sets of quick and powerful bench presses you should have summoned the type 2 fibers of the middle part of your chest to spring into action. With the single armed flies to doubles you called on the same muscle fibers and also the muscles of the “lower” chest summoning type 1 muscle fibers in holding an isometric chest fly. This type of manipulation of load and speed should result in a recruitment of even more muscle fiber units as the sets progress and fatigue sets in. Provided that you maintained a constant amount of reps, rep speed and intensity you will find that your muscles will be at the state of muscle failure a lot sooner than traditional weightlifting strategies and even supersetting opposing muscle groups.

A killer compound setting technique is the pairing of a barbell exercise with an alternating dumbbell exercise. Taking a dumbbell exercise and pairing it with a bodyweight exercise is also another favorite. Each one of these pairings allow for the training of supporting cast members to help stabilize the workloads through the sets. Stronger secondary muscles in the shoulders and core will lead to heavier weights lifted. Heavier weights moved will increase the physiological changes needed to get you huge and sculpted. Try to keep the sets a firm 3 - 6 and lift as heavy as possible without sacrificing your rep range… remember 8 -10. You should raise the weights lifted once you conquer 6 - 8 sets of 10 for each of the 6 exercises in the routine below. That is a high volume routine that will have your chest singing out for mercy half way through the routine. Compound setting allows you to get more exercises in a shorter period of time Nice!

Tips to Compounding Correctly

  • Keep your rep ranges constant and weights the same through all sets. Increase them next when you are able to complete them all.
  • Keep your breaks short between sets 30 - 60 seconds.
  • Maintain the structure of your routine as it gets progressively more difficult. Maintain no breaks until all exercises in the compound set are complete, then take a break.
  • Keep the weight constant (weight that you end with is the same as the weight you started with)
  • Try to choose 2 different angles or pieces of equipment to pair together. Do not choose two exercises that target the same muscle fibers at the same angle unless you are absolutely focusing on a specific area of the chest in which case it is advantageous.
    DON’TS: Dips & Decline Presses… Flat Bench Press & Dumbbell Bench Press...
    DO's: Cable Flies & Incline Chest Presses… Pushups & Incline Flies.
  • Make sure to cover your entire chest by the end of the workout.

Sample Chest & Tris Workout

Incline DB press & Flat Barbell Bench Press
-> 3 - 4 sets X 10 -12 reps X ?lbs.
Rest 60 secs

DB Chest Press (twist) & Medial Cable Flies
-> 3 - 4 sets X 10 - 12 reps X ?lbs.
Rest 60 secs

Seated Chest Press & Decline DB Alternating Press
-> 3 - 4 sets X 10 -12 reps X? lbs.
Rest 60 secs

Decline Pushups & DB Pullovers
->3 - 4 sets X 10 -12 reps X ?lbs.


Cable pushdowns & Body Weight Dips
-> 4sets X 10-12reps X ?lbs
Burnout Diamond pushups 30 reps.

Written by Dre Farnell


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