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Back to Basics: Supersets

Gym jargon is often tossed about like a lightweight medicine ball, and if you don't know the lingo you can end up not only feeling lost but skimping on your workout. One term likely to be skipped over is "superset." It sounds intimidating and therefore not at all super, but supersets are a great way to move beyond a strength training plateau. Essentially, a superset is two exercises performed one right after the other, rather than simply resting between sets. You can work opposing muscle groups or challenge your muscular strength and endurance by working the same muscle group with different exercises. Reducing rest time increases the cardio component of strength training and keeps the calorie burn going. Plus, supersets save time, and less time in the weight room means more time for a post-workout sauna.

For a few examples of supersets


Supersets for opposing muscle groups:

  • Bicep curls followed by triceps kickback create an upper arm combination.
  • Alternate a back extension exercise, like superman, with ab work, like bicycle crunches, to work the front and back of your body.
  • To work the chest and back, mix a set of push-ups with seated rows with a cable or a resistance band.
  • Tone the thighs by starting with the leg press machine to work quads, then move to the hamstring curl machine to work your hamstrings and glutes.

Supersets for the same muscle group:

  • To work the quads one leg at a time, combine single leg squats and step ups.
  • Combining side lunges with side step downs will work both the outer and inner thighs.
  • For the hamstrings, pair donkey kicks with reverse lunges — working in two completely different configurations changes your relationship with gravity and challenges your muscles in different ways.
  • Target the back of your arms with triceps dips followed by triceps presses on your back.

You should repeat each superset two to three times, resting for a minute between supersets, which is much more efficient than resting between each individual set. If you have a strength training superset combo that you love, share it in the comments section below.


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