Q: I’m getting back into the gym, and I was considering starting a four-days-a-week superset workout to save time and get stronger so I can have more power as a baseball players. How should I design the workout to cover the whole body over the course of four days?
A: I like the concept of supersetting exercises to save time and increase the intensity of a workout. I use it a lot when training my clients at the Powerhouse Gym in downtown Tampa, Florida. You may not be able to train as heavy as you could if you were taking longer rest periods after each set, but it does give you a better pump and makes for a more efficient workout.
When you’re supersetting, there are several different methods you can choose. The first is supersetting two exercises from opposing muscle groups. For example, you can superset a chest exercise with a back exercise. The chest uses the pushing muscles (chest, anterior deltoids and triceps) while the back recruits the pulling muscles (back, biceps and posterior deltoids). When you superset two exercises for opposing muscle groups, one exercise does not interfere with the other and there is no reduction in strength.
You can also superset two exercises for the same muscle group. One method would be to work different areas of the muscle with the two exercises. For example, you might superset lateral raises for the medial, or side, head of the deltoids with dumbbell presses for the anterior, or front, head.
Another method of supersetting is sometimes called preexhaustion. That’s performing an isolation exercise for a muscle group followed by a compound movement for the same muscle group; for example, leg extensions immediately followed by squats, a compound exercise that uses the quadriceps along with the hips, lower back and glutes. The theory is that by isolating the target muscle first, you “preexhaust,” with other, assisting muscle groups participating in the second exercise.
Here is an example of how you might superset your muscle groups in a four-day split:
Day 1: Chest, Back
Dumbbell bench presses supersetted with lat pulldowns
Incline barbell presses supersetted with barbell rows
Incline flyes supersetted with seated cable rows
Day 2: Legs
Leg extensions supersetted with leg curls
Leg presses supersetted with lunges
Stiff-legged deadlifts supersetted with hack squats
Day 3: Deltoids, Traps
Seated dumbbell presses supersetted with lateral raises
Cable upright rows supersetted with bent-over laterals
Dumbbell shrugs supersetted with dumbbell front raises
Day 4: Biceps, Triceps
Pushdowns supersetted with incline curls
Lying extensions supersetted with barbell curls
Bench dips supersetted with hammer curls
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