Staggered Sets Principle
Joe Weider’s staggered sets principle is actually an extended muscle priority training principle. Priority training emphasizes large muscle groups or underdeveloped muscles. Usually, it is those muscles that need more energy. They are the muscles of hips, chest, back and shoulders. Some muscles are denser than the others and, thus, they are slower to be built. Yet, they don’t need much of energy when you train them. With staggered sets, you train smaller, slower-developing body parts in between the sets for large muscle groups. You can use this technique while doing exercises for any of major body parts you are working.
Here is an outline of the principle. Staggered sets are expedient for training the muscle groups like forearms, neck, calves and trapeze muscle. For example, you want to focus on your forearms, but you are working the hips as a major muscle group. Do a set of bar squats. Instead of a full rest between the squat sets, grab a barbell and do wrist curls to develop your forearm muscles. Rotate squats and wrists curls, doing four sets of each exercise. Since forearms are relatively isolated from hips, rotating sets doesn’t reduce the effectiveness of training for both muscle groups.
As you proceed the workout, move to another hip exercise, let’s say leg presses and do a forearm exercise – palms-up barbell wrist curl, for example – after each set. Keep alternating the sets until you feel your forearms are well-loaded. By the end of the workout, you maximally load the hip muscles and work your forearms, so you develop the forearm muscles without having to focus your workout on them. So you get an effective way of training slower-developing body parts (by the way, feel free to alternate shoulder presses and squats, abdominal muscles exercises and exercises for neck or arms). The beauty of staggered sets is that you are able to work any small, slow-developing muscle and remote large muscle group simultaneously and effectively.