Part 2-The Superset
In part 2 of our continued series, “The Educated Trainer” we continue with a popular method of strength training.
Today we are going to go over the training technique known as Super Sets. If you live in Kernersville, or the surrounding area, and you have attended one of our classes or used one of our top notch personal trainers, you most likely have come across the term “superset.” Although with supersets being so common, it still can be hard for some people to grasp what they are and how best to integrate them into a workout.
Supersetting is a simple fitness strategy to do in that you perform two exercises, back-to-back, with little to no rest in between. An example would be doing a set of chest presses and then bar rows directly afterword. For anyone with limited time in the gym, supersets are a fantastic way to fully utilize ALL available time. Plus, you would be hard pressed to find someone not excited about better results in half the time.
Designing a fitness routine around supersets can get tricky, however. Depending on the exercises that you decide to pair ,these can either help or hurt you. Section the right exercises together and you’ll get more bang for your buck and build more muscle while also burning more calories. Choose the wrong pairing and it can bring on injuries and potentially impede your progress. However, all of us here at Fitness One in Kernersville want to help make things simple for you.
We can break supersets down into three categories:
Agonist Supersets putting exercises together that involve the same muscle groups. Agonist supersets are sometimes referred to as compound sets and are the most physically demanding types of supersets. They allow you to increase your volume of training (how much you can accomplish in the same amount of time) and intensity (in less time), and incorporate more muscles in the same workout.
Example being a pull-up followed by bicep curls.
A “pre-fatigue superset” falls under the agonist heading. Instead of choosing two exercises that target the same general muscle group, you begin with an exercise for one of the smaller muscle groups that assists in the second exercise you’ll be performing. In theory, for example, when you wear out one of the muscles that assist in the chest press, the chest will have to work harder, and will then have a bigger “reaction” to the chest press.
Example here being bicep curls followed by a pull-up.
Unrelated Supersets: Pairing exercises together that are not connected.
If you pair exercises that are unrelated, you still receive the benefit of accomplishing more sets and reps in a shorter amount of time, and also will have little-to-no loss of strength when moving between exercises.
Example being an upper body with a lower body such as squats and shoulder press.
Antagonist Supersets: Pairing exercises together that involve uses opposite and opposing muscle groups allow one muscle group to rest while another gets to work. By performing lifts this way, you are allowing the opposite muscle group to “rest and recover” while inactive; thus, increasing total reps and weight to be lifted by all exercises.
Example being bicep curls followed by triceps extension.
CAUTION: The following mistakes might affect your health and results.
Pairing Core with Other Exercises – Your core is responsible for stabilizing and helping you lift. When you are continually taxing your core in between sets of heavy lifting, you run the risk of eliminating an key source of support. Better to save the core work for the end of the workout or another day if you’re using supersets to maximize your gains!
Performing Successive Compressive Moves – A compressive move is anything that compresses your spine, such as goblet squats or barbell lunges. Compressive moves aren’t bad, necessarily. But you do want to work in non-compressive exercise to counterbalance these common exercises. Examples include anything that fixes your arms in place and allows your feet to move, such as triceps dips, pull-ups, glute bridges, or any suspension exercises (e.g. TRX exercises).
Ultimately, supersets are a great way to maximize your time in the gym. And, with a little bit of forethought, they can help you keep your muscles guessing, break through plateaus, and avoid burnout or boredom. Ask a personal trainer for more advice if you’re still unsure how to build your own supersets.
If you want to learn more about training the smart way, getting better results with less time and without the high risk of injury, reach out to us to schedule a free consultation.
Ethan Wall is a Certified Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor at Fitness One Training Systems in Kernersville N.C. His passion is helping people develop physically and mentally with proper, results based strength training. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org