The Art of Super Setting: How to make Your Workouts more Effective

mobility

At this point in my life, I’ve trained on a regular basis for about 15 years. The first 5-8 were almost purely instructional: here’s what you do and here’s how you do it. These were the high school and college years. And, although their intentions were pure, sometimes coaches didn’t know exactly what was best when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness. They were sport coaches after all, not strength coaches.

 

Getting into college and starting to train regularly in a “Fitness Center” atmosphere led me to learning different ways of performing set and reps. When you first hear about things like drop sets, cluster sets, super sets, tri-sets and so on, it can be a bit confusing. But some of these can make your training much more effective, and, more importantly (at least to the average Joe), more efficient.

 

Super sets are something that has been around for a while. They’ve been utilized in many different ways for many different goals. Understanding what a super set is and how to use it is something that many general population athletes (this is anybody who isn’t a professional athlete. We’re all athletes, after all) lack.

 

A super set is when you do 2 exercises together in one set. For instance, if we labeled the exercises A1 and A2, you would perform A1, then perform A2 immediately after, and rest. This would be completion of one set. Generally, what most GP Athletes do (especially those who perform split routines) is perform an exercise, then rest for 2 minutes or so and repeat.

 

As you can tell, the do-1-exercise-then-rest method can be much less efficient when it comes to getting more exercises in in less time. So there are a couple of ways to go about super setting, as well as some things you should avoid when picking exercises:

 

 

A1 – Bench Press

A2 – Dumbbell Row

REST

A1 – Bench Press

A2 – Dumbbell Row

REST

A1 – Bench Press

A2 – Dumbbell Row

The best way to do is to pick movements on the same plain. What does that mean? Bench Press is a horizontal pushing movement (you’re lying horizontal to the ground), therefore you would pick a horizontal pulling movement (upper body horizontal to the ground, or pulling in towards you). Your other option would be vertical pushing (think shoulder press) and vertical pulling (think pull-ups).

 

 

A1 – Front Squat

A2 – Chin-up

REST

A1 – Front Squat

A2 – Chin-up

REST

A1 – Front Squat

A2 – Chin-up

 

This is the technique we primarily use a Thrive. When you’re picking an exercise for upper and lower body, plus using antagonizing sides, you’re effectively lowering the possibility of fatiguing muscles groups that are used during these movements.

Super setting upper body and lower body exercises is also a great way to get a better metabolic hit during your weight training sessions. When you perform an exercise, your body has to rush blood to those muscle groups that you are using. Alternating upper and lower body exercises forces your body to drastically adjust where it is going to pump more blood, which is making your heart work hard, which is increasing your cardio endurance.

 

 

A1 – Deadlift

A2 – Adductor stretch w/ T-Spine Rotation

REST

A1 – Deadlift

A2 – Adductor stretch w/ T-Spine Rotation

REST

A1 – Deadlift

A2 – Adductor stretch w/ T-Spine Rotation

 

This way you are still maximizing your time, and not wasting it chatting about Sports Center clips.

 

Making your time effective in the gym is important. Many of us hold off from going to the gym often for this very reason. Training doesn’t have to take hours at a time. If you plan accordingly, you’ll get the work done that needs to be done.

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Jerry Scarlato
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Jerry Scarlato

Owner, Fitness Coach at Thrive Fitness
Jerry Scarlato is a Personal Trainer and Entrepreneur who lives in Northern Kentucky. He runs 2 businesses related to health and wellness: Thrive Fitness and Thrive Online. Jerry has been involved in the fitness for his entire adult life, including playing sports through college. Along with being an Entrepreneur, Jerry is a content creator,
Jerry Scarlato
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