How to Burn Body Fat and Build Muscle with Heavy-Light Supersets
It seems so simple — lift weights and you build muscle! But, if your goal is maximum gains and maximum muscle, you’ll have to fine-tune your meal plan. And, you’ll have to take your workouts more seriously.
Picture it. The stars have all aligned: You’re in your groove, your meal plans and workouts are on point, and you’re seeing awesome results! Until...suddenly, you hit that dreaded plateau where you just can’t seem to advance further toward your goals.
Here’s a reality check: if you’re a consistent lifter, you’re going to hit a plateau. You might even be plateauing right now.
A plateau happens when the calories you burn equals the calories you take in. Usually, this happens when your body starts packing on more muscle. More muscle helps keep your metabolism (the rate you burn calories) fast, producing a plateau.
Your body gets used to your workouts and meals, so the only way off the plateau is to eat fewer calories or exercise more. Or, a combination of both.
If you’re interested in learning how to beat a plateau through your meal plan, read these 8 Tips for Bodybuilding Meal Prep and Nutrition.
To beat your plateau through exercise, then consider incorporating fat-burning Heavy-Light Supersets into your workout routine!
What is a Heavy-Light Superset?
A superset is a technique that bodybuilders use to gain muscle, strength, and burn fat. Perform two exercises back to back with no rest in between, and you’ve completed a superset. Once you complete both exercises, take a break, and continue doing more sets.
A heavy-light superset is an advanced exercise that pairs a heavy-weight compound move with a light-weight isolation move. An example of a heavy-light superset would be a heavy squat set of 2-3 reps immediately followed by shoulder shrugs.
Why Do People Do Heavy-Light Supersets?
It’s mainly because they help you maximize your muscle gain. When you do high reps, your body is doing more work, so you burn more calories. If your goal is to get leaner, include lighter, higher rep sets in your training.
Plus, people love supersets because they’re more time-efficient. You can literally do twice as many exercises in the same amount of workout time.
A Word of Caution When Performing Heavy-Light Supersets
Don’t do supersets every day. They are intense exercises that cause a lot of muscle damage and your body needs more time to recover from them than with normal exercises. Strategically include them in your muscle building program.
How To Do True Supersets
True supersets work two opposing muscles one after the other, which is a technique that’s ideal for building strength. Exercise physiologist Pete McCall, M.S., C.S.C.S. says, “For example, you could do a chest press followed by a back row. As your chest muscles are contracting during the chest press, your back muscles are lengthening to allow the contractions to occur. Then the back is warmed up and can work harder, and while you're using the back during a back row, the chest muscles are resting and renewing their energy.”
Example exercises to pair for supersets:
- Chest press and back row
- Glute bridge and front lunge
- Bicep curls and tricep kickbacks
Because you’re working out opposing muscle groups, one muscle can rest, while you lift heavy on the other. That helps burn fat and build muscle and strength.
Sets and Reps
The amount of reps and sets you do depends on many different things: your weight, your fitness goal, your fitness level, the weight you’re using, and more. But, for a general baseline, we suggest doing the following sets and reps when performing supersets:
- Exercise 1: 10-15 reps
- Exercise 2: 10-15 reps
- Rest: 20-30 seconds
- Repeat 3x total
When choosing a weight to use for the heavy and light portions of each superset, there’s one main thing to keep in mind: Use a weight that’s challenging, but not too challenging where you can’t complete your reps.
Now that you’re a pro at heavy-light supersets, learn more about other training sets that you can incorporate into your workout routine by reading 8 Different Weight Training Sets to Build Muscle.
For more training and bodybuilding tips, visit gatsport.com.
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