Bring Back The Super Set!

Are you frustrated cause you are spending way too many hours at the gym and you still don’t look like Arnold… Could it be the 12 slices of pizza per week.. Nah.. Maybe the 28 beers you slam every weekend… Doubtful… could it be the way you workout…hmm?
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Are you frustrated cause you are spending way too many hours at the gym and you still don’t look like Arnold… Could it be the 12 slices of pizza per week.. Nah.. Maybe the 28 beers you slam every weekend… Doubtful… could it be the way you workout…hmm?  It’s probably a combo of all of these.. and chances are you’re not gonna look like Arnold anyway.. but there is a better way to  come closer to looking your best.  Laying off the pizza and booze will help but lets take a peak at your workout.

Is this you?

Hit a set of 10 on bench…strike a double overhead bicep pose in the mirror… Undo your weightlifting belt (cause you totally needed it for that set of 10 at 60%)… send an email…scroll through instagram… Build up the courage to talk to that girl over by the water bubbler… lose that courage… then hit your next set 10 minutes later…

I’m just messing with you but there’s a point behind all this…  There’s no reason you should leave the gym after 2 hours with no pump, no sweat lost, and a laundry list of lifts you were supposed to do that you could’n’t get to.

There’s gotta be a more efficient way right??

Lets go back to the days of Arnold Schwarzenegger and his short-short wearing, creepy mustache having,  bodybuilding buddies.  The 70’s… No cell phones, no social media, no emails in between sets… So what do you do while you’re giving your muscles a rest in between sets?  Oh.. That’s right… Another exercise!

And thus, the concept of super-sets was born.

The premise behind a super-set is simple… Hit an exercise.. put the weight down.. and during the “rest interval” hit another exercise while the previous muscle group rests.  Super-sets minimize the rest interval between 2 (even 3) exercises and can cut the time you usually spend at the gym in half.  By shortening (or even eliminating) the rest period between sets we will increase the intensity of the workout.  More work in less time may not sound very appetizing… But if you have proper knowledge of the body and how it functions you will be able to use super-sets to not only save time, but eliminate imbalances.

So if you are trying to put together an efficient and effective plan and don’t know where to start take these super-set tips into account:

GENERAL RULES OF SUPER-SETS

1)  For every push or press there’s gotta be a pull

If you’re going to do some sort of push/pressing exercise like a DB Bench you want to jump right into the antagonist of that exercise after, a DB Row (or any sort of row).  If you are doing an overhead press, you could super-set it with pull up or pulldown.  If we get in the habit of doing too much pressing and not enough pulling our over dominant chest going to pull our shoulder into an unhealthy internally rotated position.

If you are ever confused about what exercises you can super-set together think of it like this:  Take the movement you just did.. and do it in reverse or rewind… More often than not that right there will give you the exercise.

2)  Core can be done after or in between everything.  It can even help create a Tri-Set ( 3 exercises back to back to back) for the ultimate time management.

For Example:   3 rounds

  •   Shoulder Press x 10
  •  Ab Wheel x 10
  • Pull Up x 10

You could be done with 3 rounds (90 total reps) in 5 minutes with Super-sets/ Tri-sets and your body would benefit from an almost aerobic standpoint depending on how quickly you went.

3)  Legs can be super-setted with anything.

However, take into account the energy expenditure of certain big lifts like Cleans, Squats, and Deadlifts… Essentially these lifts are full body lifts and are very taxing on the central nervous system.  There is no need to super-set them with another lift.  Your best bet is super-setting them with some sort of mobility exercise ( like a wall slide or hip mob.)

4) Super-Set Rules are meant to be broken

For example:  If you are doing a finisher at the end of your workout and want  to test your bodies threshold you can mix in a super-set like this…

A set of 10 tricep dips right into as many reps as possible on Cable Tricep Push downs to really test the muscle with a couple different stimuli.  Sure you may only be able to get 6 reps at a weight you could usually get for 12-15 but the pre-exhaustive effect is a great way to shock the body.

Another example of this would be to do max push ups after each set of bench… You wont set any personal records in terms of numbers that day… But you will build muscle.

If you are trying to create the most balanced body, take this into account when planning which exercises can be super-setted together:

Chest —————– Back            (Horizontal Push ——— Horizontal Pull)

Shoulders ———– Back          (Vertical Push ————– Vertical Pull)

Biceps ————— Triceps        (Elbow Flexion ————— Elbow Extension)

Chest —————– Biceps         (Elbow Extension ———— Elbow Flexion)    

Back —————— Triceps         (Elbow Flexion ————— Elbow Extension)

Legs —————– Anything      (Hip Extension, Hip Flexion, Knee Extension,                                                                                Knee Flexion)

Core —————– Anything 

*Keep in mind there are some outliers… Some isolation exercises such as Chest Fly’s, Reverse Fly’s, DB Side Raises, DB Front Raises, Shrugs, etc do not require any flexion or extension of the elbow and therefore can be super-setted with just about anything.

Example of a super-set:  DB Incline Neut. Grip Bench right to DB Hammer Curls

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