3 Intense Superset Workouts for More Muscle and Better Conditioning
Getting to the gym should be a priority. It’s one of the fail safe ways you can improve your health, boost work performance, deepen your relationships and forge an optimistic view on life in general.
However, common sense isn’t always common practice.
As it turns out, work gets in the way of working out. It’s an interesting paradox that we wrestle with in the modern day – the more challenging and exciting our careers get, the harder is to workout.
But, we can’t afford to neglect our training time because it’s an integral part of sustained success and performance in the workplace.
In fact, one study revealed that subjects who made time to train reported a boost in productivity (even though they spent less time at the office). And, working out not only helps you get more done, but it’s been proven to boost creativity for up to two hours following that last deadlift you did.
So, the problem at hand is that you know that you need to make time for the gym but you don’t have 120 minutes laying around at lunchtime to crush the gym.
As nice as it would be to have an unlimited amount of time to dedicate to training, the reality is that you don’t.
No matter how much you’d like to be like the dude on your Instagram feed who lives that “weights, plates and protein shakes life”, you have big boy responsibilities to tend to.
A full-time job that demands excellence from you, monthly rent that doesn’t pay itself and the possible juggling show of other life related things that may include things like a spouse, a kid to raise and a social life.
Realistically, if you don’t do fitness for a living you can manage to get 3-5 hours of training in each week.
The good news is that this is plenty of time to do some serious work. You’ve just got to have a plan that utilizes your time wisely. This is where you can use super-set-style movement pairings to cut down on training time, boost intensity, add muscle and increase work capacity.
Before we get into the pairings it’s important to note one thing: Even with as little as 45 minutes dedicated to a training session, you can and you should put strength first in your workout. After a warm up, spend 15-20 minutes working up to a heavy triple in one of the classic lifts – squat, bench, deadlift or press. All variations of these lifts are a go as well.
Once you’ve knocked out your strength work, then move onto the movement pairings created below to help you get the most out of your training time, build more muscle and have better conditioning.
Benefits of Superset-Style Movments
There seems to be a insatiable romance in fitness media that when one thing works for a certain purpose, it’s only function is that purpose.
When it comes to fat loss, high intensity methods like supersets get pigeon holed into the fat loss category – when in fact it can be used to build muscle and improve overall conditioning at the same time.
Myogenic muscle tone is the type of look that weightlifters, strongmen and powerlifters display. They look hard and dense EVEN WHEN THEY AREN’T TRAINING. They’re muscles are full when they aren’t in use. Their training is reflective of this adaptation. They spend a lot time in the 1-5 rep ranges that supports myofibiliar hypertrophy and neural efficiency.
Neurogenic muscle tone refers to the muscle tension while it’s in a flexed state. This is most often referred to the pump during your workout and is associated with higher rep training that supports sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. Nuergeinc tone is most visible when the muscle is working.
In order to increase size and strength over time (which satisfies myogenic and nuerogenic muscle tone), you must increase your work capacity. This is the amount of training you can perform, recover from and ultimately adapt to.
While there are several ways to do this, the most practical way is to add extra workouts. For the busy person who already battles the reality of limited training time as it stands, adding extra workouts sounds like trying to get a boat over a mountain.
But there’s hope. And it comes in the form of superset-style movement parings which include these benefits:
- Saves you time.
- Increases volume to improve work capacity.
- Assists in growth hormone production which supports muscle building, facilitates protein synthesis and initiates fat burning.
By adding in these extra workouts after your strength training, you’ll be stressing your body beyond the rate that you can recover. Take note, during this phase of adding extra work, don’t expect to be at peak performance.
Gains and PR’s come when you have recovered after a period of overreaching. Just remember, the purpose of adding more volume is for the stress to out-pace your recovery time. Once you pull back and allow recovery to catch up to the stress, your body is poised to handle more volume, heavier loads and increased intensity – which in turn sets you up for more gains.
With that said, it’ll be wise to cycle these movement pairings with a three on, one off approach. Meaning, for three weeks you’ll add in extra workouts after your strength training sessions. On the fourth week, you’ll pull back the extra workouts and it’s probably wise that you drop your strength training loads to 40-60% on each lift.
As a general prescription, run this cycle for 60-90 days before you test your strength and/or allow for supercompenastion to occur.
Superset #1 – Banded kettlebell swing and banded push ups
This combo can be used as a finisher on either a press day or squat/deadlift focused day.
You’ll anchor a band around your waist that’s attached to something that will hold (squat rack, loaded prowler, heavy dumbbell).
From here you’ll perform Russian kettlebell swings (bell should travel to about eye level at the top). The band will help re-inforce the hip hinge, stretch the hamstrings, and force you to exert power through the hips all the way through extension.
For the push-up, you’ll anchor the band around your right hand and then wrap over your upper back and anchor the other end with your left hand. You’ll perform standard push ups, but the band will force you to apply more force as you reach the top of the rep since the band increases tension as you reach full extension in the elbows.
Pair these two movements up for a short, but potent AMRAP (as many reps as possible) at the end of your workout. Perform 10 swings and 10 push-ups. Repeat this sequence and see how may reps you can get in 7 minutes.
Superset #2 – Piston pressdowns and lying face curls
The piston pressdown dwells primarily in powerlifting gyms. However, they can be utilized for the non-elite too for several reasons. One, being that the tricep is the largest muscle in the upper arm and plays a critical role in all pressing variations -vertically and away from the body.
Two, bringing up your triceps is the most effective way to fill out those t-shirt sleeves.
Lastly, for those who have elbow issues, the piston pressdown is a great alternative to hit the triceps without the discomfort.
You’ll set up two bands around the top of a rack. While on your knees, you’ll grab a band with each hand, and with palms facing down you’ll fire off alternating press downs with each arm.
Do 40 reps total, or 20 each arm.
Then, you’ll transition into the lying face curl.
Attatch a band to the top of rack or pull up bar. Slide a flat bench underneath and lay flat. You’ll grab the band with both hands with a supinated grip. Keeping your elbows tucked, you’ll curl the band to your forehead. With your grip position, be sure there is tension throughout the movement (particularly when your hands are furthest away from you).
Do 20 reps.
In total, do three working sets of this combo at the end of your workout. This pairing works well on days when your workouts are based around any pressing movement.
Superset #3 – Barbell calf raise and Hise shrug
In 2005, Charles Stately put his stamp on escalating density training – a simple, but effective training method involving circuit style training to bring up work capacity while increasing muscle mass.
The method calls for two movements back to back for a fixed period of time. Statlely calls for 15 minute sets. The load prescribed is equal to your 10 rep max for each movement, but in execution, you perform only 5 reps in each set. With density training, you go back and forth, performing 5 reps of one movement and then 5 reps of the other movement for 15 minutes.
In the iron game, 15 minutes is a long time to be under a load. In fact, that is a workout in itself. So, we’re going to shorten it and call it abbreviated density training.
Since the movement pairings you’re doing in this article will come after your strength training, putting you through 15 minutes of density training at that load will drive you into the ground leaving you in the fetus position looking for momma.
To abbreviate this method choose 5-7 minutes. If you’re relatively new to the gym, start with 5 and you can always build up.
In regards to the load, use the same approach – base it off your 10 rep max, but only perform 5 reps per set. Also, we aren’t going to pair movements that are huge mass builders like squats and deadlifts. Instead, we’re pairing the barbell calf raise and the Hise Shrug.
In the barbell calf raise, you’ll unrack the barbell on your back. Perform 5 reps of the standing calf raise. There should be no flex in the knees as you raise your heels off the ground and squeeze the calves hard.
Once you’ve done 5 reps, you’ll transition into the Hise Shrug.
Joe Hise, is the creator of his movement along with his potent 20 rep breathing squat method. To perform the Hise shrug, you’ll set up like you’re going to squat. Instead of squatting, you’ll inhale and shrug simultaneously . In this part of the movement, think about bringing your shoulders to your ears. Squeeze your traps at the top and then exhale to lower back into starting position.
If you want to stand out from the crowd this pairing should certainly be in your game – because having a set of big traps and thick calves gets noticed.
Don’t divert from the old school approach – lift heavy weight often. This is the foundation to your approach. Once you’ve done the hardest part of your workout, augmenting with the movement combos we just went over is a sound approach.
For more muscle and better conditioning adding extra workouts is your ticket to gains. By pairing them in a super-set style fashion, you’ll save time without sacrificing potency.
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