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Super-Man Training Program Overview

A push-pull superset training program like no other! This 5-week plan will help you build muscle size while slashing body fat.

Super-Man Training Program Overview

Don't take the play on words too literally. You won't be able to leap over tall buildings or be faster than a speeding bullet by following this program. (Sorry to burst your bubble).

The workouts you'll perform utilize the popular, time-efficient, intensity-boosting technique known as the "superset" exclusively for the duration of five weeks – hence the name of the program. However, you might just feel like tearing your shirt open like Clark Kent at the conclusion of the program, what with the results in size, strength and leanness it will deliver. (In that case, maybe the name fits better than I thought!)

Supersets involve the pairing of two exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between. This can be done with two exercises for the same muscle group, which are more technically referred to as "compound sets," or two exercises for different muscle groups, which are called "supersets."

When utilizing the latter method, it's usually advised to pair opposing muscle groups (i.e. antagonist muscle groups that perform opposite movements like pushing and pulling), such as biceps and triceps.

Get Bigger and Stronger with Supersets

Pairing opposing muscle groups has several benefits, one of which is an increase in strength and power. 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.

Normally, the muscle you're working is somewhat limited by its antagonist, much like a brake on a car would limit how fast you can go if you kept it depressed. For example, during the bench press, the strength of the pecs is somewhat limited by the contraction of the back muscles. Doing a set of rows before benching, however, lessens this inhibitory effect, allowing your pecs to contract with more force.

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.

For example, if you did three straight sets of bench press with one minute of rest between them, you'd get one minute of rest between each set. If you did supersets of barbell rows and bench press and rested one minute between each superset, however, you'd not only get the one minute of rest between supersets, but you'd also get the time it took to do the rows as additional rest between bench press sets.

In some cases, this could double the amount of rest time 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. It's just that simple.

Burn More Fat with Supersets

Another benefit to antagonist superset training is that you'll burn more body fat.

One study from Syracuse University found that when subjects performed supersets for chest/back, biceps/triceps and quads/hamstrings, they burned 35% more calories both during and after the workout compared to when they did straight sets.

The significant finding here is the post-workout bump in calorie burning. A workout may only last an hour or so, but you can only burn so many extra calories in that time. Burning an extra 35% more when you're just sitting around the rest of the day can really add up. This is the main reason why HIIT outperforms steady-state cardio when it comes to dropping fat quickly.

Bring Up Your Weak Points with Supersets

A third benefit of supersetting opposing muscle groups is that you work neglected areas of the body. When is the last time you focused on your tibialis anterior muscle or your lower traps? My guess is never!

But doing so not only helps you bring up these often weaker muscle groups, but it also helps restore balance. And not just balanced muscle development either; it helps remove strength imbalances that can limit your performance in the gym and predispose you to injury.

Save Time with Supersets

Here's yet another benefit of this style of training: time management. I know this is important to people because I hear the "I don't have enough time to work out" excuse constantly. You'll be able to complete far more total sets in less time than would doing straight sets. In my Super-Man program. you'll be completing around 40-50 total sets in each workout. Yes, you read that right: 40-50 sets. This would normally take well over two hours to complete with standard rest periods. But with my program, you'll only be in the gym for 60-90 minutes at a time.

Spark New Results with Supersets

Just one last benefit before I get into the program details: change. Change is good because change is critical to making continued progress in the gym for gains in size and strength. That's why I offer so many different training programs: So you can constantly change up your training and keep growing bigger, stronger, leaner and better.

Changing up your training with the barrage of supersets I'm about to throw at you may be just what your body needs to finally break through those plateaus you've been experiencing. When was the last time that you did supersets for every muscle group in every workout? And when was the last time you did supersets where every exercise was an exact opposing motion of the other? I'm willing to bet never!

There's also going to be a change in your training split. With this program, you'll work the entire body in just two days with an increase in training frequency. If you've followed my Micro Muscle and/or Shortcut to Size programs, you've probably gotten used to training each muscle group just once per week (except for abs and calves).

In my Super-Man program, you'll be training each muscle group twice weekly. This higher frequency will help stimulate new muscle growth and strength gains, not to mention spark greater fat loss. The Super-Man training split will look like this:

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Of course, you can train any four days of the week you want, but this is the most optimal way of splitting up the program.

Programming Specifics

On top of all the change I've already discussed, you'll also see a change in rep ranges each week of the five-week Super-Man program. Weeks 1-3 will be done in a linear periodized scheme each week, meaning the weight gets heavier and the reps get fewer. You'll start with 12-15 reps per set on most exercises in Week 1, move up in weight to limit you to 8-10 reps per set in week 2, then bump up the weight again in Week 3 for 4-6 reps.

Week 3 is also the starting point for the next phase of the program, as now you'll flip the rep pattern to follow a reverse linear periodization scheme. You already did 4-6 reps per set in Week 3, so Week 4 jumps back up to 8-10 and Week 5 returns to where you started at 12-15 reps per set.

You'll likely find that you're suddenly much stronger in these reps ranges during Weeks 4 and 5 as compared to Weeks 1 and 2. That's the magic of periodization.

After Week 5, it's time to go back to straight set training for at least 4-6 weeks before returning to supersets again. However, I suspect many of you will like the bigger, stronger, leaner you so much that you'll want to stick to the Super-Man plan for a bit longer. If so, feel free to do another round to extend it to nine weeks. The periodized program will look like this:

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Addressing Concerns

Remember, this program is going to be very novel for many reasons and your muscles will respond well to that novelty. To do this, you'll have to let go of some training dogmas that you may have come to live by in the gym. Breaking these rules is just what your muscles need.

Here's what I mean: In Workout 1, you'll first do a chest and back superset of bench presses and barbell bent-over rows. After that will be a superset of pulldowns and shoulder presses to target the back and shoulders. Then you follow with a superset of flyes and rear delt...

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