Super!……..Sets!

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Fat Loss, Muscle-building
Tags: , , , , , ,

You enter the gym on National Chest Day (Mondays for just about every resistance training male) and you bolt straight for the lone bench, conspicuously left alone by every pec-fiend around you. It is yours now and you have the plan of all plans. You start with a warm up set of flat-bench barbell chest presses then progressively overload for the next few working sets, reaching for a higher max weight for given reps than last week. You proceed to Incline then Decline with the same idea, rounding out the workout with high rep sets (12-15) of pec-deck or flies. This has been your holy grail of logistic training and you wouldn’t change it for the world. The problem is that you chest, tris, and delts are also stubborn to change and you wonder why o’ why is this happening.

Well the reason is not consistency, because you have demonstrated this to a tremendous degree, but stagnation. Basically, you have been doing the same thing for too long and the progressive overload technique(increasing intensity through higher reps for a given weight or higher weight for a given rep as the weeks progress) which is sound and always a favorite has begun to express itself in diminishing returns. So you may be gaining marginal strength every workout or two but the massive gains in strength and size brought about by your favorite aforementioned technique are just not there anymore. You need a change…..badly!

This is where intensity techniques come into play. From supersets, to dropsets, to negative isometrics and everything in between you have a plethora of methods for busting through that plateau that has plagued you for what seems like a milennia. For the purpose of brevity, let’s focus on supersets.

The concept of supersets is simple; correct execution, difficult. Basically, the goal of super-setting is to string one set directly behind another with little to no rest so as to elicit greater adaptation and growth. So if your focus for the day is chest you can follow a solid set of flat-bench with dips. Two for the price of one. You ramp up intensity and you shorten your time in the gym. Your muscles will work harder and remain under tension for longer. Just make sure you maintain proper form throughout.

The reason a well-executed super-set tends to supercharge your goals is simple. When you get to the point in a set where you cannot move the bar or dumbell even a quarter of an inch higher, you can further tax the muscle by engaging in another set of the same muscle group with a lighter weight or just different motor function (Flat bench which targets whole chest then incline which targets upper-chest and deltoids). This ramps ups intensity, sending signals to your brain demanding a need to release more growth-hormone to compensate for the trashing your muscles received.

Super-sets can be accomplished through a few methods: One muscle group suppersetting (see above), antagonistic (opposite muscle groups like chest then back or biceps then triceps, non-relating muscle groups (like quads then biceps) and Big muscle/small muscle super-sets (Chest then triceps or back then biceps).

All are valid and contribute to different results. One muscle group supersets contribute to intensely straining one muscle group; antagonistic supersets reduce time in gym, allow for heftier gym sessions targetting more than one muscle group; non-relating muscle groups supersets allow you to toss in sets of non-relating muscle groups for weak-point training and higher growth-hormone production (the more groups you train, the more growth hormone is released) ;and Big muscle/small muscle super-sets function similarly to the one-group method.

 There is no shortage of techniques to better your physique and these are just a few. Play the field thoroughly and find what works best for you. But remember, consistency did benefit you before and will continue to do so as long as you never, ever stagnate. Change is good but work hard at your new style until you see those diminishing returns.

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