Monday, 3 October 2011

Supersets 101

Supersets are by far one of the most used and talked about training techniques in the gym. Whether it’s the intense burn you get from performing them or their incredible ability to accelerate performance, build muscle and even burn a bit of body fat on the way they certainly get a lot of attention and they may be just what you need in your training routine.
So what is a superset? Simply put they are a pairing of two different exercises performed back to back with no rest in between.  There are three common types of supersets the first being antagonist supersets. This is where two opposing muscles get paired up with each other, for example biceps and triceps or chest and back. The second type is known as post-fatigue supersets, this is where two exercises for the same muscle group are paired. The first exercise being a compound movement, the second being isolation. An example could be barbell bench press followed by dumbbell flyes. The third type is known as pre-fatigue supersets, this is where two exercises for the same muscle group are paired. The first exercise being an isolation whilst the second is a compound. An example could be the reverse of post-fatigue supersets: dumbbell flyes followed by the barbell bench press.  
Pros of supersets
·         Workouts can be completed faster than usual. Perfect if you’re pushed for time.
·         You get a great ‘pump’ feeling especially when you superset biceps and triceps together.
·         Because of the pace of the workout you’ll burn more calories giving a cardio element to your weight training routine.
·         Post-exercise oxygen consumption is elevated, meaning a higher metabolic rate for a longer period of time after your workout has finished.
Cons of supersets
·         Greater calorie burn/ cardio element may not be what your after.
·         It’s easy to get carried away over performing exercises which could eventually lead to over training. Like any training technique, use it don’t abuse it!
·         In a busy, commercial gym some exercises such as barbell bench press paired with the lat pull-down might be impossible to complete as other gym users could jump onto the piece of kit your about to use.
Below are some of my favourite superset workouts and splits that I hope you will gain some inspiration from and try out in your own training routine.

Weekly antagonist split
Day 1: Chest ss back (horizontal pulling back exercises e.g. dumbbell Rows)
Day 2: Biceps ss triceps + abs
Day 3: shoulders ss back (vertical pulling back exercises e.g. Pull ups)
Day 4: quads ss hams + calves

Biceps/triceps antagonist workout
Barbell curl 3 x 8-12
Bench dip 3 x 8-12
(Fat gripz) incline bench DB curl 3 x 8-12
Overhead DB extension 3 x 8-12
Cable rope hammer curl 2 x 10-12
Rope pressdown 2 x 10-12

Back pre-fatigue supersets workout
Back extension 4 x 6-12
Barbell deadlift 4 x 6-12
Standing straight arm lat pull down 3 x 8-12
Pull- up 3 x 8-12
Dumbbell shrugs 3x 10-12