Thursday, June 24, 2010

Supersets Save Time

I am a strong proponent of the important of strength training for women. I know you are all probably rolling your eyes. We’ve all been there. As women, we often think, “I only have 30 minutes to workout today, I want to do whatever will burn the most calories and help me lose the most weight,” and in our minds we rationalize that cardio workouts are the way to go. I totally understand that mentality – but I also disagree.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think cardio is very important. I try to equally distribute my workouts between strength training and cardio (3 and 3 for those who are wondering - one day I’ll show you my workout calendar covered in gold and silver star stickers à la 2nd grade), but if I have to choose, I often choose strength training. Why? Well, even though I’ve read countless articles and heard many of the debates on cardio vs. strength, in my case it just comes down to where I have seen the best results in my own life – strength training. This doesn’t mean strength training will equal the best results in everyone, but in my experience, I have developed more lean muscle mass and witnessed higher fat burning from strength workouts.

I think the most important thing with strength training is to do something you like – otherwise you will get bored very quickly. I was pretty lucky about 6 months ago to stumble into a class at the gym that I ended up really enjoying. It was called Super Set Conditioning and it has been an asset to my strength-training program in 2010. It has pushed me to my limits, taught me beneficial workouts to do on my own time, and left me researching strength workouts to do at home.

But as usual, I am getting ahead of myself. First, I guess I should address -- what is a superset? Well, most of us have heard of set training – doing a strength training exercise for a certain number of repetitions (often between 8-12, or 12-15), resting and repeating. Supersets just take it to a new level of intensity. Rather than putting that “rest – repeat” step in, you immediately move into a second exercise with little or no rest in between. For example, I might do a set of 12 Tricep Extensions and immediately move into 12 Hammer Curls. I could then rest for a moment and repeat the set. Supersets can be composed of opposing muscle groups (antagonistic supersets), or they can be comprised of exercises for a single muscle group. Each method has its benefits.

If you are new to strength training, I would recommend doing regular set training until you know you are using proper form. At that point, you can gradually move into supersets.

There are many benefits to supersets. Supersets save time and they are constantly challenging your muscles. You are moving through your exercise program much quicker than with regular training sets, but the intensity is increased.

I’ve included a short video of me demonstrating an at-home superset. Please excuse the end of the clip getting cut off (the hubs swears he didn’t hit stop until I was done talking). Also please excuse the tiny hand weights...they were all I had on hand.

One of my favorite things to see in the blogosphere is links to other sites and articles of interest. I think it’s a good way to find out about related reading that you might not otherwise know about. Also, I tend to come across a lot of stuff that I’d like to pass on, but time just won’t allow for a full blog post. So look forward to “Links to Health” every Thursday!

Links to Health:

50 Best Blogs for Clean Eating

Battle of the Baby Weight: Stability Ball Exercises for Postpartum Moms

Biggest Loser Controversy: Kai Hibbard Speaks Out

Circuit Training: Burn Twice the Calories in Half the Time

How to Eat Garden Fresh Without a Garden

By End of 2010, New US Dietary Guidelines Will Be Issued

CDC: Few Americans Meet Salt Guidelines


  1. Hello pushups! If I did that, I certainly wouldn't be able to talk in sentences when I was done. You are one buff lady!

    And thanks for posting the postpartum stability ball link, that will be perfect for after baby 2 comes along.

  2. I love supersets as well.
    for me its all about lifting as fast as I can---before the 4 year old tears apart the house :)


  3. this video has made me want to do that 100 pushup project thing. just so you know.