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Supersets supercharge fitness

Date
Fitter faster ... accelerate your fitness with supersets.

Fitter faster ... accelerate your fitness with supersets.

The exercise gadgets advertised on TV are often expensive. If you buy one, the DVD usually ends up being ignored after a few months; or the equipment ends up unused and gathering dust.

The reason is a common one - boredom. You were bored with your training program and wanted something different that would speed up the desired results.

After getting the DVD or the machine, buyers learn the inescapable fact: It takes time to build muscle, lose fat and get stronger. Nothing will speed up that time. And soon, you become just as bored with your new exercise device as you were at the gym.

But if boredom is inescapable reality, you can at least use a routine that's efficient; one that gets your workout completed in a shorter amount of time. That's where supersets come in.

Supersets are a new buzzword in training, but they've been around forever. Most elite athletes use them.

Despite the complicated gobbledygook preached by experts, a superset just means doing one exercise set, then quickly doing a set which works another muscle or group of muscles, all without resting.

There are different versions of this system. Some experts say a routine should pair each muscle with its antagonist - such as first doing biceps curls followed by triceps pulldowns, or doing leg extensions followed by hamstring curls. However, in actual fact, you'll get the same training effect by doing a circuit of five or so exercises, whether they pair opposite muscles or not.

Here's how to create your own personalised superset: choose five exercises that work a particular body part such as core, legs, upper body or arms. Write out a "set list" of the exercises you've chosen. Do one set of each exercise. When all five sets are finished, walk around while breathing deeply for two or three minutes, then do another circuit.

The major benefit of supersets is that they allow a just-worked muscle to rest while another muscle is worked. It requires concentration to complete each circuit, so the system increases your focus.

Because there's no rest period, you don't get distracted and waste time. The workout is more intense, and you finish it much quicker. Because each muscle gets a rest time, it can do more work; so muscles don't get exhausted by doing repeated sets of the same exercise.

I already mentioned that many variations exist on the theme of supersets. One effective variation involves a jump rope. Leave it by the last machine or free weight bench used in your circuit.

When you finish the entire circuit, quickly grab the rope and begin jumping. At the beginning, jump for one minute; as strength and coordination improves, increase the time. This adds an aerobic component to your superset that pumps up the heart rate and gets the blood to move faster, thus aiding in exercise recovery time.

Like with regular routines, the body will quickly adapt to your superset. Change them frequently. You can do different resistance levels or number of reps for each exercise or change the exercises themselves.

As you improve your intensity, you'll also increase the level of work your body is capable of doing. Whether you're a competitive athlete or an active person who enjoys strenuous activities, you'll be surprised and gratified when you find out how much supersets improve your game.

MCT

9 comments

  • Sounds great...funny how people have thought about this over 50 years ago with Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga or the modern version Power Yoga. These are dynamic forms of yoga that use all of the muscle groups as described.

    Commenter
    Been Done Before
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    April 23, 2012, 1:44PM
    • What the gimmicks dont work?? Obviously you are not sponsored by the latest ab-blaster product! The lazy obese people will be collectively rolling over in their crumb filled coffins! I havent done supersets for ages, will give them a go again. But if you people cannot get off the couch to change the channel on the tv, they are certainly not going to subject themselves to a method of training that in more intense without resting between sets. Maybe you should be encouraging people to walk to get takeaway instead of getting it delivered...not that I am cynical of the current state of healt of most people or anything.

      Commenter
      Crevu
      Date and time
      April 23, 2012, 1:50PM
      • Great in theory, but useless in practice unless you have either a home gym or the flexibility to go to the gym when it's not crowded.

        Commenter
        brandog
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        April 23, 2012, 2:38PM
        • You don't need to go to a gym or have a home gym to work out. Use your own body weight as resistance - you can do this at home, in your backyard or go to a park/the beach. There are plenty of exercises you can do to work all your muscle groups without any fancy gym equipment.

          Commenter
          j
          Date and time
          April 23, 2012, 3:08PM
        • I do all of my training doing 10 station circuits. 45 seconds training, 15 seconds rest with a 2 min rest between sets. 3 sets in total. I am able to do this with a couple of kettlebells, dumbells, maybe a Swiss ball and maybe a box to step onto, and of course my own bodyweight. Since i have been doing this results have improved dramatically. There are guides out there on the net that help you put together these circuits (they have pre-made workouts that you can download for free).

          Commenter
          John
          Date and time
          April 23, 2012, 3:10PM
      • One thing to remember above all is that, no matter what you do at the gym, rewarding yourself with a large sweet & sour pork plus fried rice is not the best post-exercise nutrition.

        Commenter
        NurseRoodaal
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        April 23, 2012, 2:50PM
        • My SuperSet workout......

          1. drive my supercharged car,
          2. around the corner to the super-fatty fast food place,
          3. eat a super-sized meal deal or two,
          4. then go home for a super-long nap.

          Repeat 3 times a week and you'll get the super-huge fatness gains you wanted!

          What?.. Its fitness?!?! not fatness??
          Uh-oh.....well,.. that explains alot.

          Commenter
          cretin
          Date and time
          April 23, 2012, 3:00PM
          • I'm glad the article acknowledges that they've been around forever - and I can attest to the fact that it's not just elite athletes who have been using them. New buzzword? Nonsense...

            Commenter
            girlwithcurioushair
            Date and time
            April 24, 2012, 8:27AM
            • 'Super sets' sounds suspiciously similar to 'circuit training'

              Commenter
              Quick and to the pointless
              Date and time
              April 24, 2012, 11:59AM
              Comments are now closed
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