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Jim's Full-Body Superset System

Jim's Full-Body Superset System
Build muscle, burn fat and (added bonus!) save time with this 6-day program that combines two great concepts: full-body training and supersets.

I’ve covered supersets extensively over the years through both articles and programming – from Super-Man to Super Shredded 8 – but never quite like this. Here, I’m combining supersets with full-body training via a brief but brutally effective 6-day program.

The two concepts are a perfect match, really. Full-body training, as I’ve been telling anyone who will listen these days, is superior for burning fat while still allowing you to see gains in muscle size and strength.

As for supersetting, where do I start?

Superset Primer

Supersets involve two exercises done back-to-back with no rest between exercises. There are two main ways to do supersets:

Method 1 involves two exercises for two different muscle groups done back-to-back with no rest; that’s called a SUPERSET. As Joe Weider defined it over a half-century ago, a true superset technically involves opposing muscle groups (chest and back, biceps and triceps, quads and hamstring, etc).

These days, the term superset is used more loosely, though I still prefer to pair opposite muscle groups. You’ll see this repeatedly in the below workouts, even with smaller bodyparts like forearms (where I superset forearm flexion moves with the opposing forearm extension) and calves (where I pair calf raises with toe raises, the latter of which trains the anterior tibialis muscles on the front side of the lower leg). 

Method 2 involves two exercises for the same muscle group done back-to-back with no rest; this is technically called a COMPOUND SET. For example, two chest exercises paired together, two back moves, two leg moves, to biceps moves, etc.

From these two versions, you can create an infinite number of workouts, as I'm going to show you over the course of six workouts.

Each workout will show you not just the benefits of the superset method itself, but the benefit of other techniques combined with supersets – techniques like pre-exhaust and extended sets, among others.

Opposing Benefits

Superset training offers a multitude of benefits. The most obvious is saving time. Doing two exercises with no rest can significantly cut your workout time down and get you out of the gym quicker.

The “no-rest” policy of supersets also has physiological benefits, namely burning more calories – 30% more, to be exact, both during workouts and afterward, according to research from Syracuse University. That's right, if you do supersets correctly, you can burn 30% more calories after the workout is over, when you’re doing nothing.

Supersets can also be used to boost strength when training opposing muscle groups. Research shows that a muscle will contract with more force if preceded by contractions of its antagonist (opposing) muscle group.

For example, when you do a superset of barbell rows followed by bench press, you'll be stronger on the bench press. In fact, Australian researchers reported that when trained athletes performed rows before doing a bench press throw, they had significantly more power on the bench press throw than when they did it without first doing the rows.

University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Kenosha, WI) researchers found that when subjects did a six-second isometric hamstring curl before doing an explosive vertical jump, quadriceps force production was increased by nearly 15% as compared to when they did the jump without the leg curl. This phenomenon may be due to greater inhibition of the opposing muscles.

Another study, this one from Canada, reported that when subjects did three supersets of rows and bench press using their four-rep max on each exercise, they were able to perform more reps on the second and third sets than when they did traditional sets.

Again, this may be due to the greater inhibition of the antagonist muscles, but it's also likely due to getting a longer rest for each muscle group. When you're training the opposing muscle group, the other is getting some rest. When you combine the rest taken between supersets, it equates to greater total rest for each muscle group.

Regardless of the reason, being able to complete more reps with a given weight will lead to greater muscle strength and growth over time. Simple as that.

Full-Body Superset Workouts

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