Tag Archive: supersets

How to Design a Superset Training Program

Superset-Workout

Every few years we see a new training fad in the fitness space. Sometimes old school stuff resurfaces with a new label…such as Kettlebell training and bodyweight exercises. You also have a myriad of fitness sites out there that keeps coming out with a variation on a variation on a variation promising you “new muscle growth” or “faster fat loss.”

Well, supersets training is one technique that has passed the test of time. Supersets are simply when you perform two exercises back to back with little to no exercise in between.

It’s that simple.

That’s all it is.

So what makes supersets so…well…super? So much so that they have never gone out of style?

According Jim Ryno, owner of LIFT, a private personal training facility in Ramsey, New Jersey, “…supersetting actually increases the amount of work you perform in a specific time period, since you’re moving quickly from one exercise to another with minimal rest in between sets, which leads to a more intense workout and a higher expenditure of calories. Supersets are a sure-fire way to further boost your metabolic rate and burn fat faster without spending more time in the gym.”

So supersetting helps you:

  • perform more work in the same or shorter period of time
  • produces an intense workout
  • burns more calories
  • increases metabolic rate

Well….so does circuit training and interval training.

Why do supersets get the all-access VIP pass to your time and effort?

The short answer to that question is that supersets allow you to train efficiently for different goals. In other words, it is not just for fat loss – but supersets can also be used to build strength and mass.

Don’t believe me?

tumblr_mpnyukEHvE1s2j9f6o1_500 Ask Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnold, in his training book “The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding,” explained the benefits of supersetting were:

  • Saved time – able to perform more work in a short period of time.
  • Able to handle heavier poundages for mass and power
  • Get a greater pump, and keep the pump longer each after the workout
  • Greater muscle-density results because you are pushing yourself to the limit

If it’s good enough for Arnold, it’s good enough for me!

Arnold’s Olympia-winning routine was a twice-per day double-split, 6 days per week – all supersets. For example, for his back and chest workout, he would perform 4 exercises for back, 4 exercises for chest, and then the pullover, which is a combination exercise.

The entire workout would take 45 minutes (as opposed to the usual 2-hour bodybuilding love fest). In that 45 minutes, he would complete 45 sets. Can you imagine how little Arnold rested in between each set?

How do I Super Set?

Now that you know how awesome supersets are, lets get into your options on how to do them. There are probably dozens of variations out there, but there really only 2 basic ways to do supersets right:

Antagonistic Super Sets – this is what Arnold did when he performed a chest exercise followed by a back exercise. The concept behind antagonistic supersets is very simple: blood flow to a working muscle is increased between sets by stressing another muscle group in close proximity. So, training chest/back, biceps/triceps, and hamstrings/quads – are all good places to start.

Agonist Super Sets – also known as “agony” sets. The idea is to hammer the same muscle group using two exercises. For example, you can perform hammer curls, followed by a set of incline curls to target the biceps. This method is particularly useful if you are trying to bring up a specific body part.

How do I construct a routine?

There are five key ingredients to constructing a superset routine:

#1 – Select a Training Split

Program design always starts from deciding upon a training split. If you are not a bodybuilder, then a full body or upper/lower split would work for you. If your needs are slightly different, then check out this article regarding training splits: When Full Body Splits Are Not The Answer

#2 – Antagonistic or Agonistic?

Unless you are trying to bring up a specific bodypart, my recommendation is to use antagonistic supersets. Agonistic supersets can also be used towards the end of the workout to train abs, for example.

#3 – Rest between supersets

If you’re just starting off with supersets, then I recommend resting up to 90 seconds between each exercise pairing. As you get better at supersets, you’ll be able to gradually lower the amount you rest between each pairing.

#4 – Length of Time

How long you want to workout will determine how many exercises you use, and how many sets you perform. For example, if you are looking for a quick, 20 minute workout, then you want to select only 4-6 exercises. On the other hand, if you are looking for a full 45 minute workout, then you may want to use 8-10 exercises.

#5 – Exercise Pairings

I’ve written about this topic before in depth. Check it out here: Best Superset Pairings for Individual Body Parts

Moral of the story: sift through the fads and stick to what really works. In my book, supersets are the tried and true training method that guarantees an improvement in your health and physique.

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Kettlebells plus Bodyweight Training equals Amazing Superset Workouts

Image by fitness 102 I love superset workouts. Some of my favorite workouts involve combining bodyweight and kettlebell workouts. It just so happens that there is a trainer who’s come out with a full workout program that uses this strategy of superseting bodyweight and kettlebell exercises to create intense fat burning workouts.

His name is Chris Lopez, and the name of his program is Kettlebell Revolution. You definitely need to check out this guy’s program. Click here for more information.

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Increase your Metabolism

I first realized how big a role metabolism played in fat loss when I read Alwyn Cosgrove’s article on T-mag, titled the Hierarchy of Fat Loss. Cosgrove stated that the most important factor in a fat loss routine is metabolic resistance training. This includes workouts such as complexes, circuits, trisets, and supersets. The idea is to get your heart rate up and keep it up while lifting moderate to heavy weights.

I liked this approach to training much better than doing steady state cardio, and so I gave it a try. By the time I had lost 15 lbs, I had developed four methods vital to fat loss: heavy training, metabolic resistance training, aerobic training, and anaerobic interval training. Then than list was refined to include only metabolic resistance training, heavy training, and eating a lot to maximize your resting metabolic rate.

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Superset Workouts for More Muscle and Less Fat

Superset workouts are by far the easiest way to organize workouts that allow you to put on lean muscle mass and burn lots of fat. The following are some of my best articles about superset workouts:

For some great superset workouts, check out the following programs:

  • Gladiator Body Workout (Combination Bodyweight and Dumbbell Program)
  • Workout Without Weights (Bodyweight-Only Manual featuring Unique Intensity Techniques)
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Killer 4 Minute Abs Workout at Home

Last time, I brought you a great workout from Mike Chang of Six Pack Shortcuts. Here’s another great workout you do at home to train your abs:

The Benefit of Supersetting Abs

In this workout, Mike Chang does 5 rounds of Feet to Sky Corkscrews and Figure Eights. Supersetting your abs in the manner will push your abs to the limit. It will also boost your heart rate, and transform your ab workout into a cardio workout.

Supersets Burn Fat

Doing hundreds of crunches is absolutely pointless, especially if you have a high bodyfat percentage. What you need to do is to perform high intensity workouts that boost your heart rate, increase your metabolism, and burn more calories in the long run.

Supersets Save Time

This workout only takes 4 minutes. If Mike had done each exercise separately with 30 seconds of rest between each set, it would have taken him up to 10 minutes to perform 5 rounds.

Mike’s got a whole bunch of great at home workouts you can use to get ripped and shredded. Click here to learn more about his Six Pack Shortcuts program.

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Circuits vs. Supersets for Fat Loss

lunge and push up

A superset is where you perform two exercises back to back with little to no rest in between. The most popular version of the superset is to perform opposing muscle groups. For example, you can do a set of pullups followed by a set of dips, so this way while you’re training your chest, your back is getting a rest.

A circuit involves performing 3 or more movements back to back with little to no rest in between. You can perform opposing muscle groups, such as a – back, chest, leg sequence. Or you can do all movements for one bodypart.

But which is better for fat loss?

Well, lets look at what we want to accomplish when trying to burn fat. The goal is to move your body as fast as possible, and do as many tasks within a given period of time. In that sense, a circuit is far superior than a superset for fat burning.

Here’s a sample circuit you can try:

  • Reverse Lunges x 12 reps each side
  • Incline Pushups x 12 reps
  • Squat and Press x 12 reps

Go through a few rounds of this circuit, and you will notice that a) you heart rate is going through the roof, and b) you’re training your entire body in a super short period of time. That is what we want to focus on when trying to burn fat.

Both Supersets and Circuits are used in Craig Ballantyne’s new fat loss workout called Fat Loss Switch. Click here for more information.

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Supersets for Mass and Strength

Deadlift1

Supersets are a great training method that can be used for building muscle, losing fat, and increasing strength. It is one of the more basic forms of training – a place to start before you start performing Trisets, Circuit Training, and Density Training.

Supersets for Building Muscle

You build muscle at rest. So, to maximize rest, you want to minimize training time. Super sets help keep your workouts short and sweet. This is especially beneficial for people who have a short time to work out.

Supersets also help increase the intensity level of your workouts. This is done because you are moving between two movements without rest. You’re jacking your heart rate and allowing more blood to flow to the area you are training.

You can also gain weight without lifting heavy weights. There are risks to lifting super heavy weights, especially if you have a back problem or specific injury. Supersets will allow you to increase your volume.

More volume = more muscle.

Supersets for Strength

Strength is all about lifting heavy and resting a lot, right? So where do supersets come into play? If you’re breathing hard, then you won’t be able lift a lot of weight, right? Absolutely right! So, we’re not going to breath hard.

A strength workout may look something like this:

  • 5×5 Deadlifts, with 3 minutes rest in between each set

What you can do instead is do another movement for a different bodypart as your lower body recovers. A great pairing would be Deadlifts and Pullups. Cut the rest periods in half, so you’re still resting the same amount, but hitting two birds with one stone.

Something like this:

Superset:

  • 5×5 Deadlifts, with 90 seconds break
  • 5×10 Pullups, with 90 seconds break

With this workout, you’re increasing your DL strength PLUS increasing your pullups strength!

For more ways to increase your strength and mass with Superset workouts, check out Craig Ballantyne’s Meatheads training regimen. Click here for more information.

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5 Research-Proven Belly Fat Burning Tips

5 Research-Proven Belly Fat Burning Tips
By Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

Today I’m going to give you five RESEARCH-PROVEN methods to help you lose fat 24/7/365.

Alright, let’s do this.

Proven Fact #1 – Eat More Fruits & Vegetables

Subjects on a low-fat diet that ate more fruits and vegetables lost more fat than another group on only the low-fat diet.

After 1-year, the low-fat, fruits and vegetables group (LF-FV) lost more weight than another group of woman on the low-fat (LF) diet only. Why?

Because the LF-FV group reported being less hungry, thanks to being able to eat more food than the LF group.

Here’s the reference:
Amer. J. Clin. Nutr. 85: 1465-1477, 2007.

So eat nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables to fill you up. Time to enjoy peaches, watermelon, apples, melons, and berries. Don’t let any “guru” tell you that fruit is bad, that’s nonsense!

2) Drop the Cardio and Use TT-Approved Interval Training

Our research friends in Australia have found interval training to be the solution to stomach fat.

According to Professor Steve Boutcher, an Australian expert on interval training, “high intensity intermittent exercise may result  in greater fat loss in the abdomen”.

That means that unlike doing hundreds of crunches, interval training can work to burn belly fat over everything else. And that’s why the Turbulence Training for Abs workouts use intervals, not cardio.

3) Okay, There is ONE Type of Cardio That Can Help

In another study, researchers compared high-intensity cardio against low-intensity cardio. Both groups burned the same amount of calories in their workouts (400), but the high-intensity group exercised less.

Results?

The subjects in the Low-Intensity Exercise group did not lose fat. So “Boooo!” to low-intensity cardio.

On the other hand, the HIC (high-intensity cardio) group lost a significant amount of abdominal fat.

Once again, research shows that exercising harder results in more belly fat loss in less time. And in fact, slow cardio does NOTHING for fat loss.

Reference:
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008 Oct 8. Effect of Exercise Training Intensity on Abdominal Visceral Fat and Body Composition.

So if you insist on doing cardio, I will allow you to do one extra high-intensity cardio session per week in addition to your three Turbulence Training for Abs workouts per week.

4) Burn More Calories AFTER Exercise with Supersets

The latest research shows that superset training – the type of  resistance training used in Turbulence Training for Abs – boosts  metabolism more than traditional straight set training.

Reference: J Str Cond Res 24:4 2010.

Sure, Turbulence Training was 10 years ahead of this research, but it is always nice to have more scientific proof that the Turbulence Training for Abs workouts are the best way to train for fat loss!

5) Stick with Lower Reps in Your Workouts for Calorie Burning

This is from one of the first studies I used to formulate Turbulence Training. In the study, researchers had women do two workouts. One workout was done with light weights and high reps, and the other  workout was done with heavier weights and 8 reps per set (this group was called high-intensity).

The study found that the high intensity group burned more calories AFTER exercise and therefore the scientists recommend high intensity resistance training rather than low-intensity high rep lifting.

Reference: A Comparison Of Two Different Resistance Training Intensities On Exercise Energy Expenditure And Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. Thornton, K, Potteiger, JA. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Volume 33(5) Supplement 1, 2001, p S73.

So there you go…I use ALL five of these RESEARCH-PROVEN methods in the TT for Abs follow-along DVD workouts that I’ve created for you.

And they are on sale for 3 days ONLY this week. But hurry, the sale ends on Thursday night.

=> Click here to Grab your Fat Loss DVDs

Time for you to workout with me,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training for Abs

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Interval Training with Kettlebells

So you’ve tried interval training with cardio movements. You’ve even tried bodyweight interval workouts and dumbbell interval workouts. It’s time to know experience Kettlebell intervals.

Use one of the 4 interval workout schemes turn your normal Kettlebell workouts into high intensity, puke inducing workouts:

Interval Training Scheme #1: Interval Trisets

A triset is simply where you perform three exercises back to back with little to no rest in between each set. So, to perform an intervaltriset, simply choose three movements, perform them back to back, and assign a time frame to each exercise.

Here’s a sample template:

3 rounds of:

  • Exercise#1, 30 seconds
  • Exercise#2, 30 seconds
  • Exercise#3, 30 seconds
  • Rest period, 30 seconds

Of course, you can perform more or less rounds or change the interval period.

Interval Training Scheme #2: Triple EDT

My definition of interval training is basically anything that involves a time frame. EDT, or Escalating Density Training is a method that involves just one, long time frame.

Within this time frame, you alternate between two exercises and perform as many sets of each movement as possible. So, here’s a sample template:

For 10 minutes:

  • Exercise #1, 10 repetitions
  • Exercise #2, 10 repetitions

Rest 2 minutes

So, you’re alternating between 2 exercises for 10 minutes, non-stop, then resting 2 minutes. Do this two more times, to make it a “triple” EDT workout.

Interval Training Scheme #3: Double Interval Supersets

A superset is where you alternate between two movements with little to no time in between each set. Interval Supersets are exactly the same as interval trisets. However, with this training scheme, the “double” simply means that you will be doing two supersets within a workout.

Here’s a sample template of a double interval superset workout:

Superset #1:

  • Exercise #1, 30 seconds
  • Exercise #2, 30 seconds
  • Rest period, 30 seconds

Rest 1 minute

Superset #2:

  • Exercise #1, 30 seconds
  • Exercise #2, 30 seconds
  • Rest period, 30 seconds

Rest 1 minute

So, for this workout, you’re performing two exercises back to back for 30 seconds each. Then rest 30 seconds. Perform each superset 3-5 times. Then rest 1 minute before moving onto the next superset.

Interval Training Scheme #4: Interval Supersets

It’s common to see 3-5 supersets in a normal workout. However, for the most part, I’ve only used one set of supersets. I would do up to 10 rounds, alternating between two exercises.

These were brutal workouts. So, to tone down the workouts, I started to split the workouts and perform 2 or 3 supersets within a workout. This is why I use the terms “double” to mean two supersets within a workout, and “triple” to mean three supersets within a workout.

Hope that clears it up. I believe some people were confused when I used those terms. Here’s a template:

10 rounds of:

  • Exercise #1, 30 seconds
  • Exercise #2, 30 seconds
  • 30 Seconds rest

The idea is pretty simple, but the workouts are brutal. Use Kettlebell exercises that you already know and plug them into the templates to create your own high intensity Kettlebell workouts.

One of the best ways to help you with your intervals is to use the GymBoss Interval Timer. It costs just $19.95, and you can program it to help you keep track of any sort of intervals you may use. Click here to grab yours today.

Or, if you’d rather try some ready-made workouts, then grab this free Kettlebell manual:

Enter your Name and Email Below for the Bodyweight and Kettlebell Workouts, then hit “Submit”:

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7 Best Ways to Combine Bodyweight and Dumbbell Exercises for an Effective Workout

There are lots of different ways to combine bodyweight and dumbbell exercises for an effective workout. Here are 7 of the best ways to do it:

#7: Peripheral Heart Action (PHA)

PHA is a fancy term that states that you alternate between an upper body and lower body movement. A simple and effective workout using this system would involve choosing one upper body dumbbell and bodyweight exercise and one lower body dumbbell or bodyweight exercise.

Click here to Learn more about PHA

#6: Supersets

A superset is where you perform two exercises back to back with little to no rest in between. There are lots of different ways to organize a superset. You can do two exercises that work the same muscle group, two exercises that opposing muscle groups, two upper body movements, etc.

Click here for a Sample Superset workout

#5: Trisets

A triset is where you perform three exercises back to back with little to no rest in between. Trisets generally are for one bodypart. But I personally like to do trisets of opposing bodyparts. For example, one chest, one back, and one leg exercise.

Click here to Learn how to Organize your Triset Workouts

#4: Interval Training

Interval training is where you perform a high intensity exercise for a short period of time, followed by a short period of rest. There are many different interval training methods out there, but most beginners should start out with 30 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 90 seconds of low intensity or rest.

Click here for some Interval Training Workouts

#3: Giant Sets

Giant sets are where you perform 4 or more exercises for the same bodypart. An example would be performing 4 pushup variations as a circuit. They need to train the same or similar muscle groups in order to qualify as giant sets.

Click here to Learn how to Organize your Triset Workouts

#2: Inverse Pyramids

Inverse pyraids are oftern performed with two exercises. You alternate between these exercises as a superset. However, the difference is in the rep scheme. With one exercise, you gradually increase the repetitions, and with the other exercise, you gradually decrease the repetitions.

Click here to Learn how to Set up your Own Inverse Pyramid Workouts

#1: Compound Sets

Compound sets are basically supersets that train the same muscle group. These are the hardest form of supersets and are used primarily when you have a laggingbodypart. For example, if you suck at pullups or want to put more muscle on your back, you would simply alternate between pullups and dumbbell rows as a superset/compound set

Click here to Learn how to use High Intensity Training to Gain Mass and Strength

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