If you’re like most people there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you want. One of the first things to go when people are pressed for time is their exercise, because a lot of times getting to the gym and getting in a worthwhile workout can take 1-2 hours.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Supersets to the rescue!
What is a superset? While it sounds like some complex training technique that should be left to your favorite Olympic athlete, they’re in fact very simple and can be done by anyone. A superset is no more than one set of a weight lifting exercise followed immediately by another different one. No rest in between, or at least the rest should be as minimal as the time it takes to switch exercises. After both sets have been completed, rest for about a minute or less and jump right back in to the first exercise again.
Supersets can be done a number of ways, but I’ll only cover what I feel are the 2 most useful as far as shaving time off your workout: Exercises that are using either opposing or unrelated muscle groups.
Opposing Muscle Group Superset: Here, you choose two exercises that work opposing muscle groups. Why is this beneficial? Because unlike unrelated muscle groups the two will always be close together, keeping the increased blood flow caused by the exercise to remain in a specific area of the body. This increased blood flow delivers nutrients and oxygen to the muscles being worked.
Opposing muscle groups would include chest/back, biceps/triceps, or quadriceps/hamstrings. An example of this type of superset would be doing one set of bench press (for your chest) followed immediately by a set of pull ups (for your back).
Unrelated Muscle Group Superset: By choosing two unrelated exercises you can still accomplish a lot at one time, even for groups that don’t really have opposing muscles. For example, your calf muscles don’t really have an opposing muscle group so you could superset an abdominal exercise.
An example would be to do calf raises with abdominal crunches. Neither muscle group is worn out by the set done with the other group, so they’re still fresh for getting in a good set.
Try this simple superset routine the next time you visit the gym, and see if you don’t get in a great full body workout in less than 30 minutes:
- 3 sets of bench presses with 3 sets of pull ups (or pull downs)
- 3 sets of squats (or lunges) with 3 sets dumbbell shoulder presses
- 3 sets bicycle kicks (for your abdominals) with 3 sets calf raises
Just remember, warm up on an exercise bike for 5 minutes first, and be sure to do each set until you get within 1 or 2 reps of failure.