Super Sets: What are they?

Super SetsWelcome to a new week! Its a brand new month and maybe its time to mix it up in the gym.  A lot of times in the winter months (especially if you live in a snowy area) cabin fever sets in feeling stir crazy is part of the norm.  Sometimes what we need is a new rhythm or routine and that applies in the gym also!

This month I want to shake things up a bit and explain different type of training in the gym - different "set" styles. Today’s blog will hopefully encourage you to challenge yourself to try something different or new.  Today, our topic is Super Sets.  For those of you who love weights and training in the weight room and haven’t tried integrating Super Sets, today I hope you will find inspiration to do so!

What are Super Sets?

A superset is when you perform a set of two exercises back to back, without resting (the rest comes in after completing both sets). A compound exercise is usually supersetted with an isolation movement.  These are typically intensity packed workouts that build muscle! You’ll get the benefit spending less time in the gym but still finding amazing results as a result of using this system.

You can super set in a few different ways—There are multiple methods that will keep you engaged. You can do antagonist supersetting, which is the pairing of two opposite muscle groups such as biceps and triceps, chest and back, quadriceps and hamstrings, lateral/front deltoid and rear deltoid, abs and lower back. This way you are working one muscle group while the other is relaxed and vise versa. This allows for more weight to be used or more reps in each set. Or you can focus on one muscle group in particular and burn it out.

Here are the Five most common ways to Super Set

(adapted from https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-use-5-types-of-supersets)

1. Pre-Fatigue

This refers to pairing two exercises for the same muscle group. The first one is an isolation movement (an exercise where the target muscle is doing most of the work alone) and the second one is a compound movement. An example for the chest would be to perform a set of dumbbell flies, then immediately a set of bench press.

The logic here is that in a compound movement, the target muscle isn't working alone and thus might not be fully stimulated at the end of the set. Pre-fatigue the chest with an isolation movement and you'll feel the pecs much more in the bench press, which will help teach you how to focus on that muscle.

2. Post-Fatigue

Here the exercise order is reversed: you start with the compound movement and then perform the isolation exercise. This also allows you to fully stimulate the target muscle, but it doesn't interfere with the amount of weight you can use on the big exercise.

3. Compound

Compound supersetting consists of pairing two compound movements for the same muscle group (e.g. bench press and dips).

In the case of bench press and dips, if your triceps are stronger than your pecs, you'll still rely mostly on them during both movements, and the chest might still be left relatively under-stimulated. The advantage to a compound superset is that you can work more than one part of the muscle in the same set. However, this is better accomplished with isolation movements.

4.  Isolation

This refers to pairing two isolation exercises for the same muscle group. The purpose is to focus on several parts of a muscle at the same time. For the biceps, that could be an exercise that focuses mostly on the long head and one that focuses on the short head.

This is where it gets tricky. For this technique to work, you have to select exercises that actually work different parts of the muscle. If you choose two movements targeting the same area, you're not getting full value from this technique.

5. Antagonist

In this method you pair two exercises for opposing (antagonist) muscles. As with other supersets, there's no rest between the first and second movements. With this approach, you can pair these muscles together:

Chest and back Biceps and triceps Quadriceps and hamstrings Lateral/front deltoid and rear deltoid Abs and lower back

(source again: https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-use-5-types-of-supersets)

When you perform supersets, you are able to knock out your workouts quicker and very efficiently! You are also maximizing your fat burn by keeping your heart rate spiked with less rest periods such as single set. This is a great way to challenge your strength and endurance at the same time. So this week. I challenge you to jump in and try Super Setting, I have absolutely NO doubt you’ll love the results you’ll find and that you’ll enjoy your workouts, and the challenge that supersetting can bring to your routine.  Give it a try- reach out to me if you need help getting started or you need a plan that will be effective for you and your specific goals!

Be sure to check in next week as we dive in to DROP SETS!

Cheers,

Jenny