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My Superset Workout Experience: Are Superset Workouts Really a Viable Fat Loss Weight Training Option for Someone Looking to Simultaneously Gain Muscle and Burn Fat?

  Jun 13th, 2011
I don’t know about you, but I am always searching for ways to get better fat loss and muscle building results while spending less time working out. One of the ways I attempted to save time at the gym was by searching for a way to eliminate the need for cardio workouts by finding a weight lifting routine that would enable me to gain muscle and burn fat at the same time.

It was no mystery to me that burning off fat requires a sustained elevated heart rate and that my heart rate would have to be significantly higher than my usual weight training heart rate, but I wanted an option that wouldn’t make me so exhausted that I would have to lift lighter weights and sacrifice gains in muscle mass. After all, my desire for fast muscle growth was the reason I was weight training in the first place.

It quickly became obvious to me that the only way to reach a good fat burning heart rate by using only weight training was to take very little time to rest between sets. In an attempt to jumpstart my heart rate while lifting, I tried taking 20-30 seconds to rest between sets, but I found that 20-30 seconds wasn’t a sufficient amount of time for my muscles to recover between sets as I was only able to push out a small number of reps for all sets following my first set of any given lift.

Consequently, I decided that if I wanted to reach a good fat burning heart rate by taking short breaks between sets while weight training, without negatively impacting my ability to build muscle, I would have to have to alternate between two different lifts to make sure the muscles I was training would have enough time to recover between sets. This technique of alternating between two different lifts is known as supersetting (or superset workouts).

Superset WorkoutsA superset workout can be performed using a wide variety of lift combinations, but you want to avoid working the same muscle group back to back in order to give each muscle group a small but sufficient amount of time to recover between sets. Other than that, the exercise combinations you use for your superset workout routine can be whatever you prefer.

My Experiment with Superset Workouts as a Fat Burning Weight Training Routine

In order to determine if superset workouts would enable me to burn off measurable amounts of fat while weight training, I conducted a 4 week experiment in which I cut out my cardio workouts altogether and performed superset workouts consisting of 25-30 sets 5 days per week.

The only way I would be able to accurately discover how effective superset workouts are at burning fat, I had to make sure that my diet remained fairly consistent with what I was eating before making this change. Without making any sizable changes to my fat loss diet I started using supersets by working two or three major muscle groups each day using a 3 day split as follows:

Workout #1: Back and Triceps
Workout #2: Legs and Biceps
Workout #3: Chest, Shoulders and Abs

This was the same split that I was following before experimenting with supersets, except instead of fully working one muscle group before moving on to the next as before, I would now be alternating back and forth between muscle groups with very little rest between sets. While doing supersets, my typical duration of rest between sets was only slightly longer than the time it took me to move from one lift to the next (usually about 15-30 seconds).

After completing a full superset cycle, I would rest for about 2-3 minutes before starting my next round of supersets. For instance, I would alternate back and forth between bench press and military press, until I completed a total of 5 sets of each lift, while performing every set to full muscle failure. After completing this cycle I rested for 2-3 minutes before starting my next superset cycle alternating between the incline bench press and side lateral raises.

After just my first superset workout I noticed the impact that supersetting had on the time it took me to complete my weight training for the day. Before using supersets my weight training sessions would usually take around an hour to complete. When using supersets, what previously took me an hour to finish now only only required around 45 minutes.

Since the whole reason I was experimenting with supersets was to see if they would be an effective fat loss weight lifting technique that would save me time by eliminating the need for cardio, I was obviously elated with the fact that supersetting greatly reduced the time required for weight training each day.

The other element of supersetting that I immediately took note of was the amount of energy required for doing superset workouts. Because I was resting very little between supersets, I was continuously exerting a high level of energy for over 5 minutes during each superset cycle. Needless to say, after I was finished with my workouts, I was fairly exhausted and extremely sweaty from the sustained intensity required while doing my supersets.

After a couple of weeks performing supersets my workouts became slightly less exhausting as my body adapted to this new training technique. However, I still never left a workout with a dry spot on my shirt because of the level of intensity that goes along with supersetting.

Tape Measure for Fat Loss Measurements I continued doing 5 superset workouts each week for 4 weeks (without any forms of traditional cardio workouts) and measured my results. While I was able to measure a quarter of an inch decrease in stomach fat, the month before experimenting with superset workouts I had lost over an inch in stomach fat while following the same diet and performing five 30 minute cardio workouts each week.

Even though my experiment with using superset workouts to burn fat was slightly positive, the fat burning results they produced was not enough to justify continuing to use superset workouts as a long term solution to losing fat without cardio. Although, I was curious to see what kind of measurable fat burning results I would achieve by combining superset weight training with my usual weekly cardio regimen…

The Greatest Benefit of Superset Workouts

While my fat burning results from using superset workouts were not enough to warrant eliminating cardio from my training routine altogether, I ultimately found that I was able to decrease my number of weekly cardio workouts while still being able to measure an eighth of an inch to a quarter of an inch decrease in stomach fat each week – which was my typical range of weekly fat loss before trying to lose fat without cardio by using supersets.

So, even though I wasn’t able to eliminate cardio altogether from my training, I did find that I could reduce my number of weekly cardio workouts from 5 to 3 without hindering my weekly fat loss results. Eliminating two weekly cardio workouts ultimately saves me over an hour of time each week. Not to mention that doing supersets drastically decreased the time required for me to complete my five weekly weight training workouts as well.

So, supersetting did not allow me to totally eliminate the need for cardio workouts, but it does save me about 2 hours of time each week which is certainly a benefit that makes superset workouts worth considering by anyone who is looking to get the same muscle building and fat loss results in less time.

Do you have any experiences using superset workouts to burn fat and build muscle (good or bad)? Feel free to share them below.

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