In my previous article on high density training, I touched on using supersets in order to increase training density.
Today let's take a closer look at some of the different ways in which you can incorporate supersets into your training.
To recap on the previous article, a superset is when two exercises are performed in a row without stopping.
There are two main ways of performing supersets.
Firstly, we can use two consecutive exercises that involve the same muscle groups. This is what bodybuilders would call an intensity technique. Intensity techniques are used to train beyond failure. In other words, when you reach failure in the first exercise and you can no longer perform any more repetitions, you are still able to continue working the same muscle by immediately moving onto a second exercise. This is great for creating more muscle damage and more metabolic stress (two of the main precursors to muscle building).
The alternative way of performing supersets is to use antagonistic supersets. This means using two exercises that use opposing muscle groups. A classic example, and one which was heavily endorsed and used by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the pairing up of back and chest exercises. This is less useful for inducing more muscle damage, since it does not provide an increase in training volume for any given muscle group. However, it is great for increasing metabolic stress, as the increase in training density is through the roof! This method of training potentially allows you to progress through a training session without taking any significant rest periods. This is because you are using non-competing exercise pairings. In other words, the back muscles are resting while you are working the chest muscles and vice versa.
As you might imagine, this second method of performing supersets is great for your fat loss goals in addition to being a wonderful tool in your muscle building armoury.
In my previous article on Muscle Building Principles, I wrote about the balance between using heavy loads and using high volume when training to build muscle.
In my latest article I specifically wrote about the potential of high volume training in helping you to achieve your muscle building goals.
However, there is another training variable that I have not yet mentioned. A training variable that can be manipulated to great effect in order to facilitate both your muscle building and fat loss objectives.
That variable is training density.
Your training density is the amount of work you are able to do in a given amount of time.
A simple way of increasing training density is by decreasing the recovery periods between sets.
So instead of five sets of five reps of back squats at 100kg with three minute recovery periods... we might progress by performing the same number of sets and reps, with the same weight but with two and a half minute recovery periods.
This is a great option to use when you feel like your progress has stagnated a little. Instead of fighting a losing battle with respect to increasing the amount of weight used or increasing the number of reps performed; keeping those variables the same for a while whilst reducing recovery periods instead could be just the tonic you are looking for.
There are numerous other ways in which we can increase training density as well. One example is to use supersets.
A superset is when two exercise are performed in a row without stopping. There several approaches to using supersets in order to increase training density.
We will leave a discussion on supersets for a separate article.