The 5 Best Supersets for Athletes

March 7, 2012

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As an athlete, one of the best ways to build strength and size is to perform supersets. A superset is two exercises performed back-to-back with no rest, typically on opposing muscle groups. For example, a common superset is Curls (biceps) followed by Skullcrushers (triceps).

There are many benefits to incorporating this type of training into your program. Studies have shown that supersets produce greater strength gains than traditional sets. Also, you can perform more exercises in a shorter amount of time, since you are using your rest time to work a different muscle group. This increases the quality and efficiency of your workout and even offers a conditioning benefit.

Regardless of your goal, supersets are an extremely versatile form of training and should be used by all athletes to improve performance. Below are my top five supersets for athletes, which you can incorporate into your workouts. Select one or two of them and add them to your upper- or lower-body workouts.

1. Chest and Back Superset

Push-Ups

  • Assume Push-Up position with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width
  • Bend elbows and lower until chest is two inches above ground; keep elbows to sides and core tight
  • Forcefully push up against ground to return to starting position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Inverted Row

  • Position bar at hip height
  • Hang from bar with slightly wider than shoulder-width grip and body in straight line
  • Keeping body rigid, pull body up until chest touches bar
  • Lower with control until arms are straight
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-5xMax minus 2 reps each exercise. Perform an additional set of Inverted Rows.

2. Shoulders and Back Superset

Single-Arm Kettlebell Clean and Press

  • Assume athletic position grasping kettlebell in hand at hip height
  • Hinge at hips and bend knees to swing kettlebell through legs
  • Extending hips and knees, pull kettlebell up, keeping it close to body
  • Drop under kettlebell with bent knees, catching it in rack position
  • Lower into quarter-squat
  • Forcefully extend hips and knees and simultaneously extend arm to push kettlebell overhead
  • Lower kettlebell to rack position, then straight down and immediately repeat for specified reps
  • Perform set with opposite arm

Pull-Ups

  • Place hands slightly wider than shoulder-width and grip bar with palms facing away
  • Pull up until chin is over or even with bar
  • Lower until arms are fully extended
  • Don’t swing body or use legs for momentum
  • Repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 3-5x3-6 for Kettlebell Clean and Press and Max - 2 for Pull-Ups. Perform an additional set of Pull-Ups.

3. Lower-Body Strength and Power Superset

Deadlift

  • Stand at bar in Deadlift stance with feet hip-width apart
  • Grasp bar with over-under grip just outside of stance
  • Drive up to standing position, keeping back flat and chest out
  • Lower through same motion with control

Broad Jump

  • Stand in relaxed and ready position
  • Bending hips and knees, sit back into quarter-squat
  • Swing arms back
  • Quickly swing arms forward and simultaneously explode with legs to jump forward as far as possible
  • Land with stable base; absorb impact by allowing body to return to start position and immediately repeat for specified reps

Sets/Reps: 5-6x3-5 each exercise

4. Upper- and Lower-Body Superset

Chest-Supported Row

  • Lie face down on incline bench
  • Grasp dumbbells with arms fully extended and palms facing each other
  • Pull shoulder blades together and pull dumbbells to armpits; keep elbows close to sides
  • Slowly extend arms to lower dumbbells
  • Repeat for specified reps

Single-Leg Hip Thruster

  • Sit on ground with upper back against bench, knees bent and right foot on ground
  • Squeeze glutes and extend hips toward ceiling to form bridge, with right knee at 90-degree angle and and left knee at 90-degree angle in air
  • Hold top position for one count and return to start position
  • Repeat for specified reps; perform set with opposite leg

Sets/Reps: 5-6x3-5 each exercise (and leg)

5. Legs and Back Superset

Squat

  • Assume athletic stance with bar on back and feet slightly wider than hip-width
  • Keeping back straight and knees behind toes, sink hips back and lower into squat until thighs are parallel to ground
  • Extend hips and knees to drive up out of squat position
  • Repeat for specified reps

Pull-Ups (see above)

Sets/Reps: 5-8x3-5

Now you have my top five supersets for athletes. If you've been neglecting supersets because you weren't sure what to do, try some of these. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Do you have any questions? Shoot me an email at Joe@meglioperformance.com.

Photo:  bodybuilding.com

Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. He is STACK's Expert of the Month for February 2012. Mentored by one of the brightest minds in the strength and conditioning industry, Zach Even-Esh, Meglio has worked with athletes at the high school, college and professional level. He specializes in training baseball players. Besides being a strength coach, Meglio competed in his first powerlifting meet in 2010, setting the New Jersey state record for Squat, Deadlift and total in his weight class and division. He graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in May 2011, following his final season as captain of the baseball team. For more information, please go to MeglioFitness.com.

Joe Meglio
- Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. He is STACK's Expert of the Month for February...
Joe Meglio
- Joe Meglio is a strength and conditioning coach at the Underground Strength Gym in Edison, N.J. He is STACK's Expert of the Month for February...
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