What are supersets and why are they effective?
Supersets are a training principle and defined as alternating two exercises back and forth until a prescribed number of sets is completed.
What makes this training principle super effective is that you can incorporate several exercises into a workout with little to no rest. This allows you to get in more exercises in less time.
I love love love this method of training. I frequently use it both in my classes and with my clients. Anyone who has worked with me is probably familiar with this method.
There are many ways you can apply this principle of training into your workout:
1) Alternating opposing muscle groups
2) Alternating upper body/lower body
3) Alternating same muscle group also called Compound Sets
4) Alternating cardio and strength
These are just a few options but there are many other ways you can use supersets. Let’s discuss the options listed above:
1) Alternating opposing muscle groups is a great way to superset your exercises because it ensures that you are balancing out the muscles that work together. It is really important to make sure that if you work one muscle group, you also work it’s opposing muscle group. These muscle groups work together to move the body and certain joints. If you work one muscle group and develop it more then the opposing muscle group, imbalances can occur which makes the body more susceptible to injuries.
For example, biceps and triceps are opposing muscle groups. They work together to bend and extend the elbow joint. It is really important to make sure that both of these muscle groups are strengthened equally to prevent injuries from occurring, especially in and around the elbow. Creating a superset to work these two muscle groups together is a great way to ensure that they are both being strengthened.
A superset example for the biceps and triceps would be bicep curls and overhead tricep extension. These two exercises would be performed back-to-back, one after the other, with little to no rest for the desired amount of reps and sets.
2) Alternating upper body and lower body exercises is a particularly good way to incorporate supersets because you allow the lower body to rest as you work the upper body movement, and the upper body to rest as you work the lower body movement. Instead of resting between sets, you keep the body moving while allowing the muscles you just worked to rest. This creates less muscle fatigue while burning more calories overall for your workout.
An example of an upper body/lower body superset would be squats and overhead military presses. These two exercises would be performed back-to-back, one after the other, with little to no rest for the desired amount of reps and sets.
3) Alternating same muscle group is a great way to challenge muscles and bring them to fatigue. This type of superset is also called a compound set. Compound sets is another training principle and is defined as alternating two exercises for the same body part with little rest between sets.
An example of a compound set working the chest would be push ups and bench presses. This requires the chest muscles to work with both exercises within the superset. These two exercises would be performed back-to-back, one after the other, with little to no rest for the desired amount of reps and sets.
4) Alternating cardio and strength supersets is a good way to incorporate both cardio and strength as well as bump up the intensity level and endurance of your workout. The cardio move will increase the heart rate and strengthen your cardiovascular system while the strength exercise will build muscle strength. The intensity of these supersets will have you burning calories both during and after your workout is over.
An example of a cardio/strength superset would be jumping jacks and weighted walking lunges. These two exercises would be performed back-to-back, one after the other, with little to no rest for the desired amount of reps and sets.
Supersets are a great way to incorporate lots of exercises into your workout with little to no rest, increasing the intensity of your workout and allowing you to burn more calories overall. You can easily create an entire workout by putting together several supersets of the muscle groups you would like to focus on.
• ISSA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer
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• Specialize in: - Kickboxing - Strength Training - High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)