Some things in life are wonderful all by themselves. Kobe Bryant dominating the court. An ice-cold beer. Solenn Heussaff lounging by the beach. But sometimes, the same awesome things can be even better with the perfect partner. Kobe dominating the court with Shaquille O'Neal in the paint. An ice-cold beer with a sizzling plate of sisig. Solenn lounging by the beach with us at her side (Libre mangarap!).
The same idea applies to working out. Doing individual exercises is all well and good, but you need to mix it up if you want to bust through plateaus and continue improving. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’re amping up your workouts this month by introducing you to supersets. Your fitness regime is about to meet its ideal girlfriend!
What’s a superset?
A superset is two exercises done back-to-back with no rest as one big set. According to Noel Villa, a strength and conditioning coach and the current fitness manager of Gold’s Gym Cagayan de Oro, performing supersets offers numerous benefits.
He says: “The purpose of a superset exercise is for growth. You train one or two groups of muscles explosively to build strength, endurance, speed, and agility thus improving muscle memory for performance. Your muscles are constantly stimulated during a superset session, leading to a greater release of muscle-building hormones.”
Aside from spurring muscle growth, Villa adds that supersets allow you to maximize your time in the gym and increase intensity within a shorter period—more for less is always a good thing.
How do you add supersets to your workout?
Planning out a superset, like finding the perfect Valentine’s date, isn’t just about choosing two random exercises to pair together. The golden rule here is ‘opposites attract.’
“If the muscles are systematically and progressively overloaded over time, adaptation will occur and muscle ability will improve,” Villa explains. “With this in mind, it is important that when you do superset exercise, because you are stressing the muscle at one side you must also do an equal amount of stress to the other side to avoid muscle imbalance. Hence ideally supersets are paired together with opposite muscle groups. For example, chest and back.”
Villa notes that you can add supersets to your workout whenever you’re in the mood or if it suits your goals. “I prefer to throw [supersets] in the mix during my workouts to stop myself from reaching a plateau. There's no harm in doing a superset workout as part of your training program. Though I would suggest that exercises should be properly arranged in the workout so that larger muscle groups are exercised first,” he says.
What does a superset workout look like?
Here’s a sample full-body superset workout from Villa that incorporates TRX cables and the Bulgarian bag. You can use it to mix up your regular weight training program, or to prep for your big date night on the 14th.
On rest periods, Villa says: “The shorter the rest the better, but of course this will depend on the person's physical fitness. Shorter rest periods will challenge the muscle and really fire it up. Adding this tweak to your training is like adding the conditions that your muscle will confront during [sports] performance.”
Perform each superset three times with 30 seconds of rest in between.
TRX Push Up x15
Bulgarian Bag Spin x15 (spins each side)
TRX Row x15
Bulgarian Bag Power Snatch x20
Glutes and Legs #1
TRX Jump Squat x15
Bulgarian Bag Front Squat and Press x20
Glutes and Legs #2
TRX Lunge with knee lift x10 (each leg)
Bulgarian Bag Cossack Lunge x15 (each leg)
TRX Triceps Extension x 15
Bulgarian Bag Triceps Extension x 20
TRX Bicep Curls x15
Bulgarian Bag Arm Curl x20
TRX Plank Crunch/Knee Tuck
Bulgarian Bag Straight Leg Sit Up
TRX Hip Drop Sideways
Bulgarian Bag Good Mornings