Women need to lift!!! OK I said again. If you know me and my training style then you know that I'm a huge advocate of strength training. Its not just by personal choice but for the simple fact that it is the only form of training to actually slow down the clock of aging in the body. Confusion on where to start and the and time can make the transition from the treadmill very difficult. If you are like a lot of women, you don’t have time to mess around in the gym. You don’t mind working hard, but you need a workout that gives you the most effective exercises with the biggest payoff.
That’s where supersets come in. Superset training is unquestionably a superior method for losing body fat, while simultaneously improving your strength and fitness. Designed to increase fat burning, elevate calorie expenditure, and give you a powerful mood boost (thank you endorphins!), supersets give you back significantly more in terms of health and fitness than the effort required. Before we get into the complete superset workouts below, let’s lay the groundwork so you know what you’re getting into.
What is a superset?
When you perform one set immediately followed by another with minimal rest this is called a superset. You can do an upper body exercise followed by a lower body exercise, such as a bench press followed by a squat, or you can do agonist/antagonist sets, such as a bench press (muscle on the front of the body) followed by bent-over rows (posterior muscles).
Supersets can also be extended into tri-sets (three exercises), giant sets (4 exercises), or even longer circuits, depending on your training goal and background. For this article we are going to stick with traditional superset training that alternates two exercises back and forth.
The great thing about workouts designed around supersets is that you get conditioning at the same time as you are burning fat and getting stronger. There’s no need for separate cardio, which is a blessing for the 99 percent of the ladies out there who don’t have the extra minutes to log on the treadmill.
Another plus: Supersets are fun and varied making the time fly. They’re also perfect for doing with a training partner, so you can get your social fix in, while challenging each other to set new PRs.
Now that you’re convinced to give supersets a try, let’s look at protocols that are appropriate for novices and trainees with a training background.
Before we get into specific workouts, it’s necessary to know how superset training is written. We indicate the exercises within each superset with a letter (for example, A1 and A2 are the two exercises in the first superset, B1 and B2 are in the second superset, and so on).
It’s also important to indicate the number of sets, reps, rest periods, and tempo. For the rest periods in these workouts we’ve erred on the side of caution, using longer recovery intervals. Novices often require more rest as their metabolic systems get up to par. As you progress, feel free to shorten the rest intervals to just the time required to switch exercises.
Tempo refers to the speed with which you perform the concentric and eccentric contractions and it also allows you to prescribe any pauses in between the two contractions. In prescribing tempo, four numbers are used like this: 4010. The first number dictates the seconds it takes for the eccentric motion (the down motion in most exercises); the second number is the pause before the concentric motion (the up motion), which is the third number; and the fourth number is the pause before the repetition repeats.
In the case of a 4010 tempo in the squat, it takes 4 seconds to lower the weight, there is no pause at the bottom position, and then the weight is rapidly pushed up in 1 second and the rep starts over immediately. If you wanted to make this exercise harder and get a major burn going in the quads, you could do a 4210 tempo in which you lower on a 4 second count, pause for 2 seconds in the bottom position and then come up on a 1 second count. Just imagine how much your quads will love you!
The letter “X” is used to indicate an explosive movement that is performed as fast as possible. Don’t worry, you won’t have to deal with that in these supersets—we save explosive movements for the more advanced workouts.
You’ll notice that as you progress though the phases, the reps decrease, which means your weights should increase. The way to identify the correct weight is that you should be near failure by your last rep. We use the phrase “let your reps dictate the load” to indicate this: If you are training in a 6 to 8 rep range, you need a weight that is light enough to be able to perform at least 6 reps. Once you are able to do 9 or more, it’s time to raise your weights so that you are reaching failure by the end of your prescribed rep range.
Workout parameters are described in the following manner:
Exercise Order, Exercise, Sets x Reps, Tempo, Rest
Abbreviations are as follows:
DB stands for Dumbbell
BB stands for Barbell
EZ Bar is a short curved Barbell
It’s okay to modify exercises or find a similar alternative if your gym doesn’t have the equipment in question.
Sample Full Body SS Workout
A Superset Workout might look like this: Repeat Each SS 3 Times, Then Move To The Next SS
12-15 - DB Bench Press
12-15 - Deadlifts
12-15 - Lateral Raise
12-15 (max) Pullups
12-15 - Bridges
12-15 Bicep Curls
20 Mountain Climbers
12-15 - Upright Row
12-15 - Fire Hydrants
12-15 - Tricep Press
12-15 - Jump Squats