Super sets….that’s a term that’s been thrown around for a while now, but do you know what they really are? Do you know how they can help you make faster progress? Perhaps most importantly, do you know how to effectively utilize them to maximize their benefit?
Today we’re looking at the advanced training concept of super sets, explaining how they work, the best way to perform them, and breaking down a full workout based on this awesome training technique. Before we dive in, it’s important to know that super sets aren’t just for muscle heads looking to bulk up. They are as much about helping you jack your heart rate and burn fat, as they are about packing on lean muscle mass. The key to effectively using super sets is making sure you’re choosing the right exercises, using appropriate rest/work intervals, and avoiding any over training of a particular muscle group, which can be somewhat tricky if you are new to this training style.
What Are Super Sets?
In the most simple format, a super set is the completion of two exercises, back-to-back, with no rest between. For example, performing barbell squats, followed immediately by bicep curls, would constitute a super set. Generally, there are four formats of super set combos that you’ll be working with. These combo’s include:
Same Body Part Training – Performing back-to-back sets which target the same body part. An example would include bent over barbell rows, followed immediately by lat pull downs.
Alternate Body Part Training – This is when you perform back-to-back sets on differing body parts. Performing bench press, followed by wide grip pull ups would be a classic example.
Strength/Cardio Training – This type of super setting is when you follow a strength movement with a pure cardiovascular movement. Performing push ups, then going right into jump roping is a strength/cardio super set.
Monster Set Training – This is standard super sets on steroids. Monster set training involves including three or four different exercises, all completed in a row, with no rest between. Military press, followed by box jumps, followed by lateral dumbbell raises, rounded out with close grip push ups would be an example of a monster super set.
As you can see, there’s a ton of variety when it comes to super set training. There isn’t one standard method, and each can be utilized depending on your goals. While they are all slightly different, the one recurring theme is INTENSITY. Super set training is a great way to turn up the dial on your standard workout; helping you make better gains, in less time, all the while spending less time in the gym.
Who Should Use Super Sets?
Let me pose a better question; who shouldn’t use super sets? Short answer, almost no one.
Have a little belly pooch you want to get rid of? Do super sets.
Can’t gain muscle as fast (or at all) as you’d like? Do super sets.
Want to increase your endurance in a hurry? Do super sets.
Don’t have much time to spend working out? Do super sets.
Want an effective at home workout that doesn’t require tons of equipment? Do super sets.
Super sets are for almost everyone. Barring some weird injury or condition that prevents you from training intensely, adding super set combo’s into your training routine would be a wise move. I’ve personally used super sets in my own training, as well as with my real-world clients for years. Men, women, teens….it doesn’t matter – super sets work.
For my fat loss clients in particular, I’ve personally seen individuals claim nothing will help them drop the last few pounds. I’ve seen the look of despair on their faces – I know how frustrating it can be to put in the effort but not see the results. I’ve also seen how 3-4 weeks of intense super set training can change all of that. The fat starts melting away, the definition becomes more pronounced, and those sad, hapless little faces grow more determined, more motivated, and more confident in their bodies.
Getting “The Look” With Super Sets
Many of you may not even know what “the look” is, but I’m pretty sure it’s what you’ve been working towards. Rather than explain to you what it is, I’ll suggest you read this article which details what “the look” is and why it’s so desirable. If you’re more of a visual person, take a look at the image below. This is a graphical definition of “the look”.
Scientists have determined a golden ratio of 1:1.618 between shoulders and waist is the most attractive to your fellow human beings. It’s the reason that super athletic girl at the gym makes you envious. It’s the reason that guy catches looks from all the chicks on the treadmills when he’s going to the water fountain. People with a body closer to the golden ratio are deemed to be more physically fit and attractive.
Super sets can help because they are especially effective at helping you pack on lean muscle mass while whittling down your soft spots, i.e. your waist. Using the strength/cardio super set training format would likely be your best and fastest option to completely transform your body.
How to Use Super Sets
Now that you have a good idea what super set training is all about, it’s time to flesh out exactly how you’re going to use them to make the changes you’ve been looking for. First off, super set training is intense – you’ve got to be careful not to over train when working out in this format. Hitting the same muscle groups day after day is a sure-fire way to eventually injure yourself and/or ensure your growth creeps along at a snail’s pace.
I’m a big proponent of using a variety of super set training methods to create a comprehensive training plan. I’d cycle a cardio/strength super set day with an alternate body part training day.
For those of you are just itching to get started, check out this two day super set plan, along with other workouts that will serve as nice supplements.
Day 1 – Cardio/Strength Super Set Training
Today’s training is going to focus on short bursts of intense cardio, followed by body weight only exercises. This type of training is perfect for anyone who can’t make it to the gym and wants an exclusively at home workout. That said, if you’re the gym type, don’t turn your nose up to this one; this workout is absolutely killer (I know from first hand experience).
Perform each cardio exercise (the first exercise in the combo) for 45 seconds. Perform the strength movement for 10 total reps. Rest 30 seconds between each two-exercise super set. Repeat two-exercise combo three times each.
- High Knees supersetted with Super Climbers
- Lateral Hops supersetted with Inverted Push Ups
- Turbo Crab Kicks supersetted with Wide Grip Push Ups
- Breakdowns supersetted with Bench Dips
- Turbo Jacks supersetted with Lunge Step Ups
Day 2 - Alternate Body Part Super Set Training
Today’s training is going to require some weights, so it’s probably best suited for a gym. Today’s training day is all about maximizing that muscle fatigue and helping to pack on lean muscle mass. Give yourself a full 45-60 seconds between each super set. Aim for 3 sets per combo, with 8-10 reps per exercise, unless otherwise noted. As always, make sure the weight you’re using isn’t so light that you’re breezing through these sets – it’s SUPPOSED to be hard!
As a quick aside – if you don’t have access to a gym, then you’ve absolutely got to check out our Do-It-Yourself Guide to Your Own Home Gym. Seriously, no more excuses, you can create a killer training zone for less than $100.
- Bench Press supersetted with 20 reps of Cross Body Crunch
- Hang Snatch supersetted with Plate Curls
- Incline Dumbbell Flys supersetted with 20 reps of Alternating Leg Raises
- Close Grip Bench Press supersetted with Double Dumbbell Swings
- 20 reps of Up/Down Planks supersetted with Push Up/Dip Swings*
- Lat Pull Downs supersetted with Dumbbell Lateral Raises
*If you can’t complete the swing motion, simply alternate quickly between push ups and dips.
Now that we have two killer super set workouts to follow, I’d suggest cycling between them in the following fashion:
- Monday: Super Set Workout #1
- Tuesday: HIIT Cardio Day 1 Workout
- Wednesday: Rest Day
- Thursday: Super Set Workout #2
- Friday: Treadmill Interval Workout from Hell
- Saturday: HIIT Cardio Day 4 Workout
- Sunday: Super Set Workout #1
Obviously, you wouldn’t repeat super set workout #1 again on Monday, so give yourself a rest day, or do a fun, active activity that you enjoy. The main takeaway here is, give yourself a solid 48-72 hours between super set workouts. Of course, if you need more rest days than I’ve given you, just extend the above workout plan over 8-10 days, rather than the given 7 day format.
- Super sets involve completing two or more exercises in back-to-back fashion, with no rest between.
- This training format is great for nearly anyone looking to lower their body fat while also building lean muscle.
- Super set workouts can typically be completed in less than 45 minutes – making them perfect for busy schedules.
- To avoid over training, separate super sets workouts by 48-72 hours.
- Feel free to play around and create your own super set combo’s – find what works best for YOU and YOUR body.
As always, if you’ve got any questions, comments, or concerns about anything you just read, feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to get back to you.
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