Supersets For Fighting Athletes
Tired of wasting gym time? This episode’s your secret weapon! We’re unlocking the power of supersets – your one-stop shop for maximum gains and minimal fuss.
Learn how to pack twice the punch into your sessions, without becoming that numpty hogging all the equipment. Let’s go!
What Are Supersets?
First, for those unfamiliar… For athletic purposes supersets involve doing two exercises using opposing or non-competing muscle groups back-to-back with minimal rest in between.
This allows you to densely pack your gym time with quality work, either cutting your training time in half, or packing twice as much into the same time. Your call.
What We’ll Cover
In this episiode, as a Muay Thai performance coach I’ll reveal my 3 top strategies to use supersets to boost your resistance training without hogging gym space or annoying others. You’ll learn:
- The ideal gym set up for supersets
- How to pick compatible exercises
- Clever ways to manage rest periods
Gym Set Up For Supersets
If you want to superset like a boss, your gym needs the right equipment. Here’s what to look for or set up yourself:
Every training station should aim to provide universal exercise opportunities for lower body, upper body pull, and upper body push training on the same spot.
Stations offering Power Racks with a chin up bar are ideal, along with an adjustable bench that offers both flat and incline positions. Throw in a yoga mat for some mobility work too, and you can superset like a boss.
I also like two barbells available per station, along with enough plates too – totalling up to about 200kg or 440lbs per station is usually more than enough.
I prefer olympic rubber bumper plates. That way each station has the option for Olympic lifting exercises as well.
My recommendation for the main plates would be to use multiples of 5, 10, and 20 kg (that’s typically 10lbs, 25lbs, and 45 lbs).
I don’t bother offering 15kg or 35lbs and 25kg or 55lbs plates because these multiples aren’t a quick, practical increment for supersets. I provide extra 5 and 10 kg plates instead.
You’ll also need 2 pairs of smaller increment plates of 0.5kg/1lbs, 1.25kg or 2.5lbs, and 2.5kg or 5lbs to trim progressive loads too.
Also, you can consider my wrist weights micro loading hack to make your supersets more practical too.
Bonus hack for power racks… get a second set of barbell lift off hooks so you can set up different lifts both inside the rack and outside the rack at the same time too.
Killer Combos For Supersets
Now let’s get into the good stuff – practical superset exercise combos that work. Here are my top strength exercise picks for Muay Thai:
- Deadlift & Shoulder Press
- Deadlift & Bench Press
- Deadlift & Chin Up
- Deadlift & Row
- Front Squat & Shoulder Press
- Front Squat & Row
- Front Squat & Chin Up
- Bench Press & Row
- Core + any upper body push or pull exercise
I like to mix a lower body exercise (either hip or knee dominant) with an upper body pull or push for one superset. Then either an upper body pull or push with a core exercise (either anti extension or anti-rotation). This allows you to go hard without fatiguing the same muscle groups.
Struggling For Supersets?
If you’re struggling with supersets because of equipment availability…
- Can your upper body push or pull exercises use dumbbells instead of second barbell?
- Work in with a training partner doing the same alternating supersets (this also justifies the use of two sets of equipment for the two people)
- Attend the gym during off peak periods if possible
- Make sure you set up in one spot, don’t take over the whole gym
- Keep your supersets efficient and as brief as possible (which leads us onto rest periods and timing)…
Managing Rest Periods
Using supersets, you condense more quality work into less time by letting certain muscle groups recover while working others. And when it comes to strength, power, or speed training, more rest is better.
So it’s important to strike a balance between work and rest or you’ll turn your strength session into a circuit training endurance session instead.
The key is taking just enough rest between supersets to recover, without wasting time…
Here are my best tips from my programming:
For the greatest strength, power, or speed gains, there should be a rest period of at least 2-3 mins before repeating the same exercise in the superset.
However, you can go between one exercise and the next in the sequence with little or no rest. Let me explain…
If you’re using a simple 2 exercise superset (Exercise 1, followed by Exercise 2), the program is designed so that Exercise 2 (say, a bench press) uses primarily different muscle groups to those used in Exercise 1 (say, a deadlift).
That way, the fatigue from the first exercise won’t significantly impact the second exercise, even if you go straight into it without rest.
That said, don’t rush, and take as long as you feel you need – especially on high week in your training block!
After completing a run through the 2 supersetted exercises, I typically recommend resting for up to a minute if required.
The objective is to make sure at least 2-3 mins has gone by before returning to that FIRST exercise again.
I program a mobility exercise in this resting gap, to serve as active recovery and pack in more quality work.
To check if you’re pacing things well, start a stopwatch after finishing the first exercise, and make sure at least 2 mins has gone by before starting the superset over again.
Wrapping Up Supersets
Set up your gym station right and use these smart superset strategies, and you’ll take your strength and conditioning to the next level while saving precious training time. Just be courteous of other gym members. Now get to work!