Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Intensity Techniques: Supersets and Drop Sets!

Two old-school lifting techniques revamped with a 21st century metabolic twist.  If your unfamiliar with them, get acquainted, they just might become your best friends in fitness.


    Supersets, in no uncertain terms, are a research-proven method to increase the metabolic demand of your body in a very time-efficient manner.  With supersets we pair up two non-competitive exercises.  What does that mean?  Two exercises that hit opposing muscle groups or body zones.  In the case of our Intensity program.  I’ve paired up a challenging strength-based exercise with a cardio exercise.  This allows maximum recovery for our muscles, but rather than taking that time to rest, we’re lighting up our metabolism and cardiovascular system by pairing it with an intense cardio exercise.   Your muscles actually get a full 2:00 of rest without much downtime in your workout.  Pretty slick huh?

I’ve found that time-efficient workouts are EXACTLY what our members at FastFit want!

 The old traditional method of doing straight sets is the opposite of this approach.  In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in April 2010, researchers at Syracuse University discovered that reciprocal Supersets resulted in greater energy expenditure both during and after the workout compared to the traditional straight sets approach.  In fact, EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) or “after-burn” was roughly 30% greater with the superset group versus the straight sets group!

Here’s a sample of Superset training from this month’s Intensity program:

Drop Sets

    Drop Sets are another classic lifting technique that has new age applications with intervals and fat loss.  In the typical drop set, when you come to the end of a set, and you cannot do another rep, it doesn't mean that all the fibers in that muscle are fatigued. It just means that enough fibers are fatigued to prevent you from lifting the weight that you are trying to lift. If you were to reduce the weight, you would be able to lift it for more reps, thus placing a more thorough overload on the target muscles. This concept is the basis for Drop Sets.  We can apply this to metabolic training through the use of some specific exercise progressions.  

An easy example would be doing kettlebell or dumbbell squats to the point that you cannot  do another one, and then dropping the weight and continuing to do squats with only bodyweight.  This is a highly effective approach when using intervals.  Drop Sets allow you to have the ultimate back-up plan.  So, if I’m performing a movement for 40 seconds, and 20 seconds into my work period I’m dying, I have a secondary movement to “drop down” to allowing me to contiinue for the full 40 seconds.

Here’s an example of a Drop Set workout from this month’s Intensity program:  

Are you ready for Intensity?

We shall see....

Jeff McDaniel, C.P.T.

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