Daily Life


Supersets supercharge fitness

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.



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