Superset

The Lost Art of the Superset


Back right around the time your parents were rocking out to disco with their platform shoes and polyester suits, there was a style of training that is rarely seen in today’s gyms.  The intensity, the incredible volume all performed under the Venice Beach sun.  This was the Golden Era of Bodybuilding.

 

The greatest during that era was without a doubt Arnold.  His intensity and training would make experienced lifters sing to the porcelain god.   

 

And at the heart of his training is not something you see all too often today… the superset.

 

The superset is performing two exercises back to back typically using opposite muscle groups.  Simple enough but effective as hell.

 

Walk into a gym today and you see everyone staring down at their phones for 5 minutes because they’re in their “rest period”. 

 

Consider this my public service announcement.

 

4 REASONS TO SUPERSET AND HOW TO APPLY IT TODAY

 

INCREASE CARDIO

 

You think running a mile on a treadmill makes your chest hurt?  Try supersetting legs with anything.  That is a cardio workout. 

 

Lifting heavier weights puts stress on your muscles which require blood and oxygen to give you the energy then you go an add another muscle group right after that.  That’s making your lungs and heart do double duty.  All that extra effort makes the heart and lungs stronger to adapt to the new stress.  All this while not stepping on a treadmill for hours on end.   

 

BETTER PUMP

 

You know that feeling when you leave the gym after a great arm day and you bend your arm enough to scratch your head?  That’s the pump I’m talking about.  For some guys this feeling is better than sex, for the rest of us, we just enjoy feeling huge. 

 

Instead of only having 1 muscle group experience the pump why not let other muscle groups enjoy the hugeness?  By supersetting with reps in the 10-20 range you are doing just that. 

 

I believe it was Einstein derived the formula Pump + tight t-shirt= chicks for days.  I could be wrong but I believe it was him.

 

GET STRONGER

 

One of the big problems we all have is that in order to achieve the pump you need to keep your rest periods to about a minute.  Well by set 3 and 4 you aren’t lifting as well as you were on set 1 and 2.  Your muscles just don’t have the time to rest to regain proper strength.

 

Enter the superset.  Say you’re doing a bench press to a barbell row superset.  While doing the barbell row, your chest muscles are at rest while your back does all the work.  Add to that, when you have the barbell touching your stomach (on the row) you’re stretching your chest.  So when you get back to the bench press the muscle is primed to move some serious weight.

 

I’ve been doing this for the Lift Heavy, Get Lean, Get Abs workout and I haven’t experienced a drop off in sets 3-5 over the last 5 weeks.

 

INCREASE FAT LOSS

 

Your workout should be about 45-60 minutes long.  Say in those 45-60 minutes you can perform 6 exercises and burn 200 calories (just an example).  Well supersetting you could fit 12 exercises in that same 45-60 minute window and burn 400 calories. 

 

I’m no rocket scientist but if your goal is to lose weight and fat, burning more calories in your workout seems like the smart thing to do.  [Mic drop}

 

Crap I still need that mic.

 

You’re probably asking yourself how you can incorporate supersets into your workout.  Well you are in luck, here are some common ways to add in supersets and get the most bang for your buck.

 

REP RANGES

 

I’ve been doing a little experimenting with this lately and figured a few things out with supersetting and rep ranges. 

I’ve gotten the best results with 4-6 reps on one exercise and following it up with 8-15 reps on the second exercise.  Or doing 8-15 reps on both exercises. 

 

Lifting heavy (4-6 reps) puts a lot of stress on your nervous system while 8-15 is more muscle stress.  Your muscles and recoup quicker than your nervous system can.  Going back to back 4-6 reps is like mixing pre-workout with Redbull (please don’t be stupid and try that).  It’s too much for your nervous system to handle and you’ll burn yourself out quick.   

 

Now there is different ways to skin the cat, so here are some different superset techniques to experiment with. 

 

ANTAGONIST SUPERSET

 

This refers to working opposite muscle groups back to back.  Like in my chest/ back example earlier or a bicep and triceps superset.  For the legs a quad/ hamstring superset would be the one to do.  Something like a squat (quad focus) and deadlift (hamstring focus) would work.

 

AGONIST SUPERSET

 

These are the least effective in my opinion.  This is doing two exercises for the same muscle group back to back.  To be it seems like a good way to get a subpar workout in. 

 

After the first exercise ever set will suffer because there isn’t enough time to regain strength.  An example of this would be Reverse grip preacher curls followed by incline dumbbell curls. 

 

UPPER/ LOWER SUPERSET

 

This is the cat’s ass in my opinion.  Work your legs then hit an upper body exercise.  Your heart is going crazy because one minute it has to send the blood to the legs then the next minute everything is going to the upper body.  You also get the benefit of doing legs which increases calories burned, and if you are going heavy, that’s growth hormone through the roof.  An excellent cocktail for fat loss while putting on muscle. 

 

Something like a front squat then pullup will do wonders for achieving your aesthetic physique.  Ha! See what I did there?

 

So next time you are feeling a little crazy, throw a superset in your workout or try the Lift Heavy, Get Lean, Get Abs or Ripped Strength workouts.  I mean if it was good enough for Arnold, who am I to argue with that?

 

If you know someone who could benefit from this article, please share it on Facebook or Twitter.  2 out of 3 people are obese today, let’s start a change.

P.S.  The new 30 Day Challenge is up.  By popular demand, Abs and Core.

Dave