As a trainer, one of your main responsibilities is to make sure to continuously provide for your clients a series of interesting, progressive and effective workouts that move them toward their goals. This means that you must utilize a myriad of exercises, programs and strategies that will challenge their muscles, so they are forced to adapt by getting bigger, stronger and more resilient. Supersets (two exercises done back to back with no rest in between) is one of the best techniques available to trainers for helping push their clients to higher levels. Here are a few reasons why supersets are so effective:

Benefits of Supersets

  • Amazing Pumps: Because supersets, by definition, has one doing two movements back to back with no rest in between, much more blood will get pumped into the target muscle, which not only looks and feels terrific but also positively influences muscle growth!
  • Longer TUT (time under tension): In order to maximize hypertrophy, it is important that the target muscle remain under tension for at least 30 seconds or more per set. Supersets accommodate this requirement perfectly because doing two exercises in a row will automatically double one’s normal TUT, and thus strongly ignite anabolism.
  • Bigger Burn: Another important benefit that supersets provide is an extremely intense “burn” in the target muscle. The burn results from increased levels of lactic acid, which significantly boosts production of natural GH (growth hormone) – one of the body’s most potent fat burning and muscle-building materials.
  • Efficiency Effect: One of the great things about using supersets in your clients’ workouts is how time efficient they are! Lets face it, most people don’t have 2-3 free hours per day to spend lifting weights, but still want to make major gains in muscular strength and development. Supersets can cut one’s gym time in half while doubling the intensity of each session.
  • Very Versatile: There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what exercises to superset and in what order. A “pre-exhaust” superset has one perform an isolation exercise (such as cable crossovers or leg extensions) before a compound movement (such as bench press or squats). A “post-activation” superset flips-the-script so that the compound exercise precedes the isolation move. An “antagonistic superset” pairs two different muscles with opposing actions, such as bis/tris, chest/lats, or hams/quads. And while I cannot go into detail in this article about what the advantages/disadvantages are of each type of superset, I suffice to say they each will provide a unique stimulus for your clients’ muscles and CNS.
  • Pushing Past Pain: Over time it is quite important that you teach your clients to withstand greater levels of pain, as well as to continue pushing forward when they are low on oxygen and/or feeling exhausted. Individuals who make the best progress are the ones who fight hard to get those extra reps no matter how badly they want to quit. Supersets are a great tool for teaching your students to push through higher levels of lactic acid burn within the target muscle, while at the same time enhancing their ability to continue a set when tired and out of breath.

Sample Superset (SS) Workout for Lower Body

SS: Squats/Leg Extensions – 3 sets of 10-12 reps of each

SS: Walking DB Lunge/Leg Press – 3 sets of 10-12 reps each

SS: Seated Leg Curl/Lying Leg Curl – 3 sets of 10-12 reps each

SS: Stiff Legged Deadlifts/Adduction Machine – 3 sets of 10-12 reps each

SS: Standing Calf Raise/Seated Calf Raise – 2 sets of 10-12 reps each

About the Author Eric Broser

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