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New Workout – SUPER Supersets

Posted by Joel Marion on March 17, 2009

Guess who’s back?!

Me, that’s who! :-)

That’s right, yesterday marked my first day back in the gym after my much needed week off, and in case you can’t tell, I’m seriously excited to get back to regular training! (looks like my week off did exactly what it was supposed to do, eh?)

So today, I’d like to celebrate my return by sharing with you a really cool technique I used in yesterday’s workout called SUPER supersets.

So what’s a SUPER supset?  Well, nothing official, but rather a name that I more or less just came up with to describe a technique in which you combine two different superset techniques:  Post-fatigue supersets and antagonistic supersets.

If you have no idea what that means, don’t worry, I’ll explain.

When you hear the term “superset” in regards to weight training, it generally refers to performing two exercises for a particular muscle group back to back (with little or no rest inbetween) in order to maximally fatigue the muscle group in question.  This is an example of post-fatigue and isolated failure as we discussed in our last post.

A great way to use post-fatigue supersets is to start off with a big, multi-joint movement (for example, the bench press) and then “superset” that movement with a smaller isolation exercise (i.e. dumbbell flyes) to ensure maximal stimulation and fatigue of the target muscle group (in this case, the chest).

Antagonistic supersets on the other hand are a bit different.

For those unfamiliar with the term, antagonists are simply opposing muscle groups or muscles that perform opposite actions.  For example, the chest and back are antagonistic muscle groups, triceps and biceps, quads and hamstrings, etc.

With antagonistic supersets, you alternate back and forth between exercises involving opposing muscle groups.  For example, do a set of dumbell bench presses and then follow it up with a set of seated rows.

Antagonistic training allows you to save time in the gym by working the opposite muscle group while the other group “rests”.  Time between antagonistic supersets is usually longer than between regular “post-fatigue” supersets, but still allows you to trim rest periods down tremendously in order to cut your workout time by at least a third.

And if that wasn’t enough, antagonistic supersets have also been shown to have an immediate impact on strength levels by inhibiting something known as antagonistic co-contraction (but we’ll save that for another blog post).

So, how do you combine the two for the ultimate SUPER superset?

It’s relatively easy:

1.  Pair antagonistic muscle groups together for your workout.  For example, in my workout yesterday I trained chest/back.

2.  Set up the use of post-fatigue supersets for each muscle group.

Here’s how I structured my workout:

  • Antagonistic superset pairing: chest/back
  • Post-fatigue superset pairing for chest: dumbbell bench press (compound)/dumbbell flyes (isolation)
  • Post-fatigue superset pairing for back:  pull ups (underhand grip; compound)/lat pull downs (wide overhand grip; more isolated)

Combining the two:

A1) Dumbbell Bench Press supersetted with Dumbbell Flyes [12 reps each; no rest between sets]

Rest 45 seconds.

A2) Pull Ups (Underhand Grip) supersetted with Lat Pulldowns (Wide Overhand Grip) [12 reps each; no rest between sets]

Rest 45 seconds.

Repeat the above sequence 5 times.

So how about you?  What type of workout did YOU do yesterday?  And are you up for giving SUPER supersets a try sometime soon?

Give me at least 20 comments below and on Thursday I’ll reveal the entire SUPER superset training split I’ll be using for the next four weeks, including exercises and pairings for each workout and muscle group!

Until then, talk to you in the comments section…



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