Supersets: A superset is two different exercises performed back to back with little or no rest in between, while alternating opposing muscle groups. Examples are bicep curls followed by triceps extensions, bench presses followed by barbell rows, or leg extensions followed by hamstring curls. This saves time and allows you to pick up the intensity. By working opposing muscle groups, you allow your muscles enough recovery time to start each lift fresh and keep the blood and heart rate up.
Try alternating lower body and upper body exercises for an increased demand on the cardiovascular system. A lower body deadlift rushes blood carrying oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles. By then alternating to an overhead press, the heart has to work overtime to rush blood back to the upper body. This can create a cardiovascular effect similar to running in half the time of your standard workout.
Compound sets: Compound sets are similar to supersets, except you work the same muscle group. Again, little to no rest between sets. The goal is to move from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible with good form. Start with the multiple joint exercises that allow more weight to be used first, and then move to an isolation exercise. Examples would include bench press followed by chest flyes, pullups then by pull downs, squats followed by leg presses. Working your muscles from different angles is a key factor in gaining muscle mass.
Circuit training: The term circuit refers to a number of carefully selected exercises arranged consecutively. In the original format, a circuit would include 9 to 12 stations. This number may vary according to the circuit design. Each trainee moves from one station to the next with little or no rest. They perform a 15- to 45-second workout of eight to 20 repetitions at each station using a resistance of about 40 percent to 60 percent of their one-repetition maximum.
While it may be impractical to take up 12 different exercise machines, by using a combination of equipment like bodyweight, dumbbells, jump ropes, it is possible to link several different exercises together while training in a commercial gym.
Complexes: Complex sets involve a circuit using one piece of equipment, with the same weight, and staying in the same place. Common equipment choices are kettlebells, sandbags, dumbbells and the most popular choice being the barbell. An example of a complex set would start with 10 barbell deadlifts. Then without letting the bar go, perform 10 front squats, then 10 overhead press, 10 back squats and finally 10 barbell back rows. The basic rule is to use the heaviest weight you can on the weakest movement in the complex. For example this complex contains an overhead press, the weakest exercise, and a back squat; you'd use the weight you can handle on the overhead press, not the back squat. This can be done with a loaded barbell or a broom stick depending on your condition and it is a personal favorite for fat loss.
- Kyler Crouse, BS, CSCS, FMS is a personal trainer and strength coach that works out of Sierra Athletic Club and in the homes of clients in the greater Lake Tahoe area. For more information please visit www.KCstrength.com.