By Eric Broser
In your first couple of years of training the focus needs to be on getting stronger on basic compound movements while using proper technique, and learning to build a stronger mind/muscle connection. However, once you have been in the gym pushing and pulling the iron long enough to make the leap from beginner to intermediate, it is time to start adding “intensity techniques” into the equation in order to keep progress coming on a steady basis. Supersets is one of the best of these techniques, and here are 6 important reasons why…
- Killer Pumps: Because supersets, by definition, have you doing two movements back to back with no rest in between, a lot more blood will get pumped into the target muscle, which not only looks/feels good but also positively influences muscle growth!
- Greater TUT: In order to maximize hypertrophy it is important that the target muscle remain under tension for at least 30 or more seconds per set. Supersets fit this requirement perfectly in that doing two exercises in a row will allow double your normal TUT (time under tension), and thus strongly ignite anabolism.
- Burn Baby Burn: Another important benefit that supersets provide is an extremely intense “burn” in the target muscle. The burn results from increased levels of lactic acid, which actually raises production of natural GH – one of the body’s most potent fat-burning and muscle-building hormones.
- Efficiency: One of the great things about using supersets is how time efficient they are! Lets face it, most people don’t have 2-3 free hours per day to spend lifting weights, but still want to make major gains in mass. Supersets can cut one’s gym time in half while doubling intensity.
- Versatility: There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what exercises to superset and in what order. A “pre-exhaust” superset has you performing an isolation exercise (such as cable crossovers or leg extensions) before a compound movement (such as bench press or squats). A “post-activation” superset reverses this order so the compound exercise precedes the isolation move. An “antagonistic superset” pairs two different muscles with opposing actions, such as bis/tris, chest/lats, or hams/quads. And while I cannot go into detail in this article about what the advantages/disadvantages are of each type of superset, suffice to say they each will provide a unique stimulus for your muscles and CNS.
- Mind Over Body: Over time it is quite important that you “teach” your body to withstand greater levels of pain, as well as to continue pushing forward when you are low on oxygen and/or feeling exhausted. Those who make the best progress are the ones who fight hard to get those extra reps no matter how badly they want to quit. Supersets are a great tool for teaching you to push through higher levels of lactic acid burn within the target muscle, while at the same time enhancing your ability to continue a set when tired and out of breath.
Now go ahead and get some super-size with supersets!