Sometimes 24 hours just doesn’t cut it: It’s not enough time to get in what you need to do, never mind what you want to do.
If you’ve made training a priority, you know what it’s like to have all the other areas of your life encroach on that time. Being able to block out the rest and focus is hard enough, and when the other responsibilities in life barge in — forget about it.
But what if there was a way to get in a quicker, more satisfying workout in a shorter amount of time?
Lucky for you, there is: introducing the superset. Unlike your traditional workout, which involves nonstop reps with a decent three-minute rest period in between, the superset is two sets in a row with no rest in between.
With a superset, you’re able to get a great strength workout in a shorter amount of time. You’re still working the muscles as you would in a straight set, but your second rep may not be as easy due to a lack of rest in between. This increases the intensity. You work harder, quicker and really have to push yourself to make it happen.
Depending on the type of superset you do, there are several options that will improve or change your ability and intensity. Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll be boosting lactic acid, which increases growth hormone levels and burns fat.
There are up to four different variations for supersets that are most popular: simple/same group; antagonist/opposing group; pre-exhaust group; and in-set supersets. All are effective and will give you a fast, intense workout. You just have to choose which suits you personally.
You do two exercises targeting the same muscle group. The idea is to work the same muscle group fibers, but at different angles. It forces the muscles to work harder in different ways. Example:
- Chest: incline fly and dumbbell fly
- Thigh: leg press and lunges
- Shoulder: dumbbell shoulder press and barbell shoulder press
You perform exercises that target opposite muscle groups. This gives you a solid, fast workout with less fatigue than working only one muscle. Example:
- Chest and Back: flat barbell bench press and bent-arm barbell row
- Biceps and Triceps: curls and bench press
- Quads and Hamstrings: leg extensions and leg curls
This starts with a target muscle, then incorporates other muscles to engage and work the target muscle. Example:
- Chest: dumbbell fly and bench press
- Shoulders: dumbbell side lateral raises and dumbbell shoulder press
- Triceps: pushdown and dips
- Thighs: leg extensions and squats
In this superset, you’ll alternate between two different exercises. You keep alternating until you can no longer do one. Continue with the other until you can no longer do that one, bringing the muscles to full use and exhaustion. This is very intense and a huge increase in muscle work. Example:
- Chest: flys and bench press
- Back: barbell rows and dead lifts
- Triceps: lying barbell extension and close-grip bench press
Supersets are a super way to get in an intense workout when time is short. They work the muscles with intensity and create excellent results as well. Even though they can be a great way to get in a workout or even some intense training for a few weeks, it can be rough on your body.
Muscle recovery is as important as working out and can be the difference between success and losing out on long-term benefits. Straight sets are still the best bet for training, but in a pinch, supersets will help you keep up your training even when time is not on your side.
by Dai Manuel* in How to Supercharge Your Workout With Supersets | LIVESTRONG.COM
*Dai Manuel is an entrepreneur, blogger, brand strategist, motivational speaker, CrossFit athlete and trainer (and soon-to-be-published author of the “WholeLife Fitness Manifesto”).