The name of that tool: Supersets.
This isn’t an absolute necessity nor do I have any scientific evidence to support my claims (though I am sure there is research out there on supersetting). This is simply something I have incorporated into my extensive lifting, athletic and bodybuilding career that has helped me achieve some great results. After a decade of trial and error I want to share with you all of my favorite training tools, the superset.
For those who are unfamiliar, a superset is simply performing two or more exercises back to back with little to no rest in between. Simple yet effective.
Three main benefits
1) Time. We’re all busy men occupied with many endeavors. Supersets can help you accomplish more work in less time.
2) Fat burn. Supersets will raise your heart rate and thus burn more calories compared to full rests in between. All else equal, an elevated heart rate burns more calories. You will sweat more, you will breathe harder, you will improve your cardiovascular health and as a result you will become less of a fat fuck.
3) The hypertrophy. The biggest benefit in my opinion. Like I said I don’t have any scientific findings to support this claim, but I’m hoping you can just trust me on this. It is going to obliterate your muscles, the burn will be absolutely insane, the pump is going to feel next level. It’ll make you feel like a spartan training for battle.
Practical tips for application
There are many ways you can incorporate supersets into your training routine. The following are some pointers to help you most effectively do so.
- Generally I avoid doing supersets on my first exercise. The reason being, this is when my ATP reserves are at maximum capacity so I want to take advantage of the my "freshness," my strength and the numbers I can push. Since I always start my workouts with a compound movement I want to move the most possible weight with the best possible form. Supersets can impede this by fatiguing my muscles faster than I would like.
- You can superset antagonist (bicep and triceps), complimentary (shoulders and chest) or similar muscles (chest and chest). All of them work for different reasons and will depend on your routine, your goals and sometimes the available equipment.
- You can superset multiple exercises- the superset sandwich. For example: bicep-tricep-bicep. One of my favorites is dumbbell shoulder raises-dips-cable shoulder raises. Three cycles of this will leave my chest and shoulders on fire.
- If you really want to crank up the intensity you can combine supersets and drop sets. Drop setting is when you do as many reps as you can, drop the weight and repeat this multiple times. Eventually you're doing a very light weight that feels like a million pounds because your muscles are absolutely gassed. There is no better way to achieve a sick pump. Drop setting works best on cable-based machines since its much easier to move a pin than it is to grab a new set of dumbbells or change the plates on a machine.
When supersets may not be appropriate
Supersets are a tool the same way a hammer is. It is useful and effective but must be used correctly. It isn't universal and it does have the potential to do more harm than good if used incorrectly.
- As mentioned above, the biggest benefit from supersets is the hypertrophy it helps achieve. If you are a powerlifting chasing strength and numbers, supersets will have play a small role in your training routine. You want near-full rests while spending the majority of your time on compound movements if your goal is to increase your bench, squat or deadlift.
- When the gym is busy af. Read the room. If you are in the gym at 5pm on a Monday it might be tough to execute supersets. Don't be that asshole hogging all of the equipment. There's a time and a place for everything.
- Like I said, there's a time and a place for supersets. As much as I love them, I am not performing them every single workout on every single exercise. Try it out as you're wrapping up your workout. Dedicate one day a week where you're chasing the pump and thus, supersetting the majority of the workout. There are a many ways you can incorporate supersets. Start small, listen to your body and apply this wonderful tool as you see fit.
Supersets are one of my favorite workout tools, I attribute much of my physique to the application of this phenomenal tool. Most of us are lifting to improve our physique, become more aesthetic and thus are prioritizing hypertrophy. Supersets are a great way to achieve that. Supersets will add another level of intensity to your workouts and can help take your gains to the next level if you feel you are reaching a plateau.
It isn't for everyone and it isn't for every scenario. Give them a try the next time you're in the gym and see how you like them. Get creative with them. It's your body, you get to choose how you wanna build it.