Tag Archives: superset

Here’s Why You Should Train With Supersets

17 Jun
Barbell Bench Press

Barbell Bench Press

Seated Cable Row

Seated Cable Row

Supersets are a workout strategy in which you perform sets of two different exercises back-to-back with little or no rest.  They are a great time-saver, and can make your workout more efficient and effective.

Generally, supersets are used for opposing muscle groups, such as chest (e.g., bench press) and back (e.g., row), so that one muscle group can recover while you train the other one, thereby reducing the time needed to rest. These types of supersets are referred to as agonist-antagonist paired sets (or, push-pull sets), since they work opposing muscle groups.  This is an approach we favor at our facility.

Recently the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that subjects who performed leg extension and leg curl supersets also performed better.  In fact, they completed more reps on the leg extension when the leg curl was done immediately beforehand than when done alone, despite getting no rest in between lifts.  Furthermore, when the subjects did rest, even up to 30 seconds, they completed significantly fewer reps and were shown to be activating less muscle in their quads.

Here’s the rationale behind the effectiveness of supersets: Working an antagonistic muscle group increases the nervous system’s activation of the agonist.  In this case, training the hamstrings enabled the quads to work better.  Straight sets (doing a set of one exercise, resting, and repeating) probably have their place when you’re going heavy (although at our facility, we also superset heavy sets), but supersets can boost your workout effectiveness and efficiency.

This is an example of a few of our paired exercise supersets we use at Athletic Performance Training Center:

  • Squat + Glute-Ham Raise
  • Bench Press + Row
  • Shoulder Press + Lat Pulldown

If you need extra time to recover from high-intensity sets of exercises such as the squat or bench press, by all means perform those exercises by themselves.  Then perform your assistance exercises as supersets.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Resistance Training, Part 4: Exercise Order

5 Oct

Exercise order refers to a sequence of resistance exercises performed during one training session.  Exercises are usually arranged so those requiring maximal force and proper exercise technique are performed at the beginning of a workout.

Power exercises (for example, the snatch, hang clean, power clean, and push jerk) should be performed first in a training session, since they require explosive movement, extensive muscular involvement, and significant energy expenditure.  They should be followed by non-power, core (multi-joint) exercises, such as the squat and bench press.  Assistance (single-joint) exercises – those that recruit smaller muscle groups – are usually performed toward the end of a workout.

Rest and recovery, between sets, is important; especially when training with maximal or near-maximal loads.  One way for athletes to get adequate rest between sets is to use an alternated upper- and lower-body exercise strategy.  The athlete can perform an upper-body exercise, followed immediately by a lower-body exercise (The upper-body works while the lower-body rests, and vice-versa).  This arrangement is helpful for untrained individuals. or if training time is limited.

Alternated “push and “pull” exercises (also known as agonist-antagonist paired sets) improve recovery between sets by alternating pushing exercises (for example, bench press, shoulder press) with pulling exercises (bent-over row, lat pulldown).  This is our preferred exercise strategy at Athletic Performance Training Center.  The push-pull arrangement ensures that the same muscle group will not be used for two consecutive exercises, while maximizing efficiency.  It’s great for developing strength and muscle balance, and as an injury prevention strategy.

I don’t really like the term, “superset,” because it’s not very specific.  Generally, a superset is used to describe two exercises performed without rest in between.  For an overview on different (and more specific) types of superset training, please refer to my previous post, Strength Training Strategies.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Next: Training Load and Repetitions

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