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Using Burnout Sets to Build More Muscle and Strength

Using Burnout Sets to Build More Muscle and Strength
by J. R. Workman

The purpose of strength training is to build more muscle and increase strength. Burnout sets are one of the best ways to do that. Down below are contained a description of what burnout sets are as well as examples of how to use them effectively and why they work so well for building size and strength

"It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor." ― Cicero, Cato Major: Or, A Treatise on Old Age

Burnout Set Definition 

A burnout set typically consists of an exercise done to failure with a lighter weight or easier exercise following a harder exercise (usually with heavier weight) or following a workout. 

An example of a burnout set would be following a set of barbell bicep curls with a set of dumbbell bicep curls with a lighter weight or following a heavy weighted bench press workout with a calisthenics workout for chest and triceps to burn out your muscles. The following is the definition of a burnout set: 

"A Burnout Set is a set of exercise done to exhaustion, usually with lighter weight, normally performed at the end of a given scheme of exercise. Example: 5-5-5 front squat AHAP + 50% burnout. rest 3-5 min between each set. This would mean to perform 3 sets of front squats at your 5 rep max." (Burnout Sets by Neil Anderson)

Use Burnout Sets to Build More Muscle

Being sore is usually an indicator that you got a productive workout in. Once the muscles fibers tear they will repair themselves and that is what makes them grow and get stronger. Burnout sets are perfect for breaking down the muscle fibers and causing them to grow and get stronger; they aid in muscle growth and they make your muscles sorer so that they come back bigger and stronger. 

Burnout sets were designed to do just that: burn out your muscles! Burnout sets are wonderful to do either after a regular workout or after each set of a workout. 

One effective burnout set technique is to do some wide push-ups really deep in to target the chest and get more of a burn right after finishing a working set on the bench press. The extra burn from the wide pushups will help you to build more muscle and strength. You can also do a burnout set by lifting smaller weights close or even all the way to failure after you reach or come close to failure doing a certain exercise or by doing a calisthenics exercise close or to failure after finishing a workout set. Burnout sets help greatly to build muscle and improve strength: 


Both supersets and burnout sets are meant to infuse the muscle with growth, which is referred to as hypertrophy. Supersets can increase muscle mass, but they are more effective for creating muscle definition and shape. Burnout sets produce more muscle growth due to the buildup of lactic acid in the muscle when pushed to the point of exhaustion. The lactic acid stimulates both fat loss and muscle growth due to its effects on other hormones, including testosterone and growth hormone." (Supersets vs. Burnout Sets by Solomon Branch)

The only real risk of burnout sets is overtraining. Because they are so intense and so effective, if one gets carried away with them it can be easy to overtrain your muscles. 

Burnout sets are excellent to do in conjunction with a superset workoutthey basically go hand-in-hand. Burnout sets are probably the most fundamental/essential way to gain muscle mass from a workout since burning your muscles out is what causes them to grow. If you are not already using them be sure to add burnout sets to your weight lifting routine as soon as possible. You will not regret it! 

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“Burnout Sets.” GPP Fitness,

Branch, Solomon. “Supersets vs. Burnout Sets.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 11 Sept. 2017,