By Darren Floro-Bryant
Finding the motivation to workout in this Atlanta heat can be tough! Sometimes even the air conditioning in the gym is not a hard sell, especially when there is a pool party or patio calling your name. You’ve worked hard for months on your summer body and you want to continue to maintain your gains, so you can’t neglect your time in the gym, but there’s summer fun to be had!
I’ve talked previously about full-body workouts, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training), and even outlined a “Killer 20’s” workout. While these are all very viable, results-driven, efficient options, sometimes you want a traditional weight training workout, but you don’t want to be in the gym for hours.
Don’t worry, I’ve got a great solution for you that will allow you to have a good, efficient workout and leave you plenty of time for summer fun! Let’s talk Supersets!
Supersets, by definition, are very simple – a set that includes another set or sets. A broader explanation would be when you do two exercise back to back with minimal rest between them.
Supersets are great because they can really make an exercise session more efficient, more intense, and even more complex … and often times more interesting or challenging because you are constantly moving. Depending on the type of superset you do, there can be different advantages. The two exercises can either work different muscle groups, allowing the other muscle group to ‘rest’ while you alternate, or you can work the same or similar muscle groups, intensifying your results. In addition, many times the secondary exercise can be done without any equipment, allowing more flexibility in your choices – especially if your equipment options are limited.
There are 3 main types of supersets:
Unrelated muscle group superset
Allow the muscle group you are focusing on a little rest time and superset with an unrelated muscle group. For example, if your primary focus for the workout is legs, you can superset with chest. (i.e. barbell squats and push-ups back to back)
Similar muscle group superset
Pairing similar muscle groups in a superset can intensify the exercise, optimizing results. For example, immediately following up a dumbbell chest press set with a thirty-second arm-extended plank on the floor, then followed by a short rest and starting again. (limited equipment)
Opposing muscle group superset
A great way to intensify your time in the gym while balancing out your workout and maximizing results. An example of this would be doing chest and back together as a superset. Try a wide lat-pulldown paired with a push-up with your feet up on a bench (as a body weight option) or an incline dumbbell press.
If you are choosing the first option above, to superset unrelated muscle groups like legs and chest, you can knock out a chest workout while your legs recover! If you choose to superset the same muscle group, you’ll be able to dig deeper into those muscles to theoretically build a more “dense” muscle with greater strength endurance or stamina.
This second option is also great if the facility you are training at is crowded or has a limited weight selection, like a hotel. If opposing muscle groups is the option you choose, you have the opportunity to build more balanced strength gains or a stronger support system for the opposing muscle groups. This type of superset works well because, for example, you get to balance the push of the chest exercise movement with the pull of the back exercise movement – similar, but opposing movement patterns. No matter what option you choose they will all help you achieve some great results, broaden your exercise options, but also potentially a more symmetrical physique.
Let’s Talk Supersets!
Supersets not only make your gym time more efficient and intensify your workout, but they can help you build more muscle mass in a short amount of time. Supersets are also great because they are practical for everyday life because they challenge your muscles and joints by changing the movement and angles or the stress on the muscles and joints.
Keep in mind, though, it is very important for you to pay attention to your body and the exercises you are pairing or grouping together. You may want to adjust the weights you’re using with each exercise. Supersets can fatigue your muscles faster because of the increased intensity, so be sure to account for that. Additionally, with minimal rest, be sure to stay hydrated or take breaks when needed, especially if you are not used to supersetting exercises.
Here are just a few superset suggestions to help give you an idea of how to pair exercises up.
Unrelated muscle group superset – Barbell Squats w/Dumbbell Chest Press
Similar muscle group superset – Bosu Squats w/Bosu Reverse Lunges OR Dumbbell
Chest Press w/Push-Ups
Opposing muscle group superset – Wide Grip Lat Pull Down w/Push-Ups OR Tri-Cep
Rope Extension w/Bi-Cep Rope Curl