Braxton Gilbert Fitness

How Do Supersets Help?


When preparing to go to the gym you should have a plan. Monday. Cardio. Tuesday. Upper body. Wednesday. Core strength. A well thought out routine should include a variety of exercises, paired with equipment, proper weight on each movement, and applying progressive overload to ensure that you are going up in weight or reps. This is called a superset. Today, I will cover how to include a variety of equipment to maximize your workout.


Determining where to start is as simple as what part of the body you want to focus on that day. For example we will use an upper body workout. If you were to do an upper body workout you need to cover the major muscle groups: chest, back, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. Each of these muscle groups are made up of multiple individual muscles. These individual muscles have different actions that contribute to how our body moves. Understanding how our body is supposed to move will only help you have a better workout. You never want to force your body into a position that doesn’t feel natural or uncomfortable. If we can’t get into the position, odds are, we aren’t meant to move in that pattern and it could lead to injury.


Let’s first understand end ranges in a movement pattern. First things first, there is an active range of motion or ROM for each muscle. You have two opposite end ranges, a shortened and a lengthened range. A shortened range of motion is where the muscle is in the fully flexed position. The opposite of that is the lengthened range of motion, where the muscle is the fully stretched position. Different exercises and machines will be able to focus on one or the other but hardly ever both. Take a bicep for example, the fully lengthened position would be a full extension at the elbow and the fully shortened position would be flexed and positioned behind the head. A good workout would incorporate exercises that include both end ranges.


Secondly, you will want to know about antagonistic pairs. Muscles are attached to bones by tendons. They move our bones to a certain point which is called a contraction. However, once a muscle has moved your arm into one position, it needs another muscle to move it back to its original position. They typically work in pairs. Muscles that work like this are called antagonistic pairs. In an antagonistic muscle pair as one muscle contracts the other muscle relaxes or lengthens. The muscle that is contracting is called the agonist and the muscle that is relaxing or lengthening is called the antagonist. Biceps and triceps are an example of this. When you perform a bicep curl the biceps will be the agonist as it contracts to produce the movement, while the triceps will be the antagonist as it relaxes to allow the movement to occur. Other examples are hamstrings and quadriceps, and gluteus maximus and hip flexors. 

Now that we’ve explained some of the muscles that go into a workout, here are some examples of gym equipment that work these muscles.


Lat pulldown: For this exercise, sit comfortably on the seat, with feet flat on the floor. Adjust the bar above you so that it’s just high enough for you to stretch your arms out and grab over your head. Grab the bar and pull down to about chin level while exhaling. Slowly return to the starting position, inhaling. This machine works the latissimus dorsi muscle in your armpits. 

Cable biceps bar: This machine works your biceps. Stand at the machine and grab the cable. The cable should be lower than your hips, adjustments should be made if this is not the case. Exhale and bring the cable towards your chest. Inhale and bring the cable back, fully extending your arms. Only your forearms should  move, everything else is stationary. 

Cable triceps bar: This machine works your triceps, and unlike the bicep curl, the cable will start higher than you. Stand at the machine and grab the cable. Exhale and bring the cable down past your hips, fully extending your arms. Inhale and bring the cable back. 

Chest press:There are different types of machinery that does a chest press. Some have you laying flat on your back and some have you seated at an angle. Either way, you will have weights on either side of you. Grab the bars and push them out in front of you while exhaling. Inhale, and return to the starting position slowly. This exercise works your chest, biceps, and triceps. It also can be done with dumbbells instead of machinery.


Hanging leg raise: This machine can either be in the form of a high bar, or padded armrests at a high level. Either way, to get into position, grab the bar comfortably so you can hold your own weight. Tilt your pelvis backwards, engage your abdominal muscles and bring both your legs to the front of your body together, while exhaling. This form should leave you in a 90 degree angle. Inhale, while bringing your legs down slowly. This exercise will work your core and hip flexors. Warning: this is not a beginners level exercise.

Cable crunch machine: There are a variety of exercises that this machine can work for your abdomen, but we’ll look at the low cable crunch. Lay down on the mat with knees bent and head facing the machine. Grab the cable to about your forehead and begin the crunching motion. Exhaling while going forward, and inhaling while returning to the starting position. 


Horizontal seated leg press: Sit down on the machine with your back and head resting against the padded support. Place your feet on the footplate about hip-width apart, keeping your heels flat. While exhaling, push your feet against the plate with slow control, and inhale while coming back to the starting position. This machine works your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. 

These are just a few examples of equipment that can be used to workout with. 

We encourage you to always have a spotter when doing exercises to avoid injury. Your supersets can also have various other exercises not mentioned. Talk with one of our trainers today to help you get started with your routine.