Sample Class: 5 Supersets, 1 Serious Sweat

Hit all the major muscle groups with this strategic cross-training class.

By Pamela Light, MA
Jan 20, 2016

A superset format is a great way to deliver a high-intensity, straightforward
workout. In this circuit-training class, each superset includes three
exercises that target different areas of the body. For example, you work
the legs while the arms recover, then you target the core while the legs
have some reprieve, and so on. The selected moves are classics, chosen for
their ability to efficiently target major muscle groups. They are simple
to follow and execute, which allows the class to move at a steady pace.

Serious Superset Details

Total Time: ~55 minutes

Goal/Emphasis: to
strengthen every major muscle group

Equipment needed: per person: one to
two sets of dumbbells and an exercise mat for floor-work (Since you’re
teaching high repetitions, encourage participants to switch out
dumbbells at any point or drop them completely if fatigued.)

Music: 130 beats per minute or slower

Warm-Up (6 minutes)

Perform each of the following for 30 seconds, then
repeat three times:

  • Do a bob-and-weave pattern, either as a simple
    step-together or adding a squat as you sweep through the center.
  • Cue
    alternating knees. Encourage advanced participants to bring their knees
    above hip height, and ask everyone to engage the abdominal muscles and
    “crunch” ribs to hips.
  • Teach traditional jumping jacks or side-taps

Add some flowing, dynamic stretches into the mix:

  • Do calf stretch in lunge position.
  • Stretch hamstrings by sitting back with leg forward.• Interlace hands
    behind back to open chest.
  • Do standing quadriceps stretch.As you go
    through the warm-up, explain how the entire workout will follow this
    format. Point out that every warm-up move can be completed at a variety
    of intensities. Assure participants that they can also modify all
    strength exercises.

Work Phase (40 minutes)

Perform 24 reps of each exercise unless
otherwise indicated. Go through each round three times and then move to
the next one, taking time to rest only as needed or during transitions.

Superset #1

  • Upright row. Stand with feet wide,
    knees slightly bent. Keep shoulders relaxed and engage between shoulder
    blades and spine. Raise and lower dumbbells in controlled upright row,
    being careful not to cause impingement.

  • Sumo squat. Stand
    with feet wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed slightly out, and
    lower into wide squat. As you come up (slowly and with control), lift
    knee (alternate sides). Modification: Eliminate knee lift. Progression:
    Hold dumbbell against chest. 16 reps.

  • Slow mountain climber. Start
    from plank position and slowly bring in one knee toward chest, moving at
    half-speed. Keep hips low, hands under shoulders, and brace through
    core. Modification: Hold full plank. 16 reps.

Superset #2

  • Wide push-up. Keep hands far apart so
    elbows are 90 degrees at bottom of move. Perform on knees or with
    straight legs.

  • Alternating lunges. Hold dumbbells and step
    forward with right foot, getting knee as close to ground as possible.
    Alternate for 16 reps.

  • Forearm plank. Brace through core
    and come onto forearms and toes, keeping back in neutral. Modification:
    Place knees on floor. Hold 1 minute.

Superset #3

  • Overhead press. Press dumbbells
    overhead in arcing motion. Elbows are at shoulder level and 90 degrees
    at bottom of move. Control the return.

  • Squat. With feet
    parallel and hip-width apart, lower into squat while keeping chest
    lifted. Hold one dumbbell against chest with both hands. Modification:
    Don’t hold dumbbell.

  • Back extension. Lie prone with
    arms by sides, palms up. Reach fingertips and toes toward back of room
    while lifting chest and thighs off ground. Engage gluteals and spinal
    erectors. Hold for 3 counts. 8 reps.

Superset #4

  • Biceps curl. Keep arms by rib cage as
    elbows flex to lift dumbbells.

  • Reverse lunges. Step foot
    back long and low into reverse lunge. Hold dumbbells in hands and
    alternate sides for 16 reps. Modification: Don’t use weights.

  • Side
    plank.
    From forearm plank, tilt to form side plank. Make sure that
    supporting elbow is directly below shoulder, and that shoulder is pulled
    away from ear. Modification: Drop bottom knee to floor. Hold right side
    30 seconds, left side 30 seconds; repeat once.

Superset #5

  • French triceps curl. Lie supine, knees
    bent, feet on floor. Extend weights over shoulder, drop them to sides of
    head, and raise weights back up, keeping elbow still. Modification: Use
    both hands to hold end of one weight and lower it to forehead.
  • Single
    leg bridge.
    Lift hips into bridge, bring one leg over hip with knee
    bent to 90 degrees and pulse. Do 24 pulses and switch sides. Then do 24
    pulses with both feet on floor. Finish with static bridge on third set.
  • Double
    leg switch.
    Start in tabletop, knees over hips. Slide right leg
    straight while bringing right shoulder to left knee, and switch.

Cool-Down (5 minutes)

Stretch all muscle groups worked in class. Hold
each stretch for 30 seconds.

  • supine figure-four stretch, for outward
    hip rotators
  • child’s pose, for gluteals and lower back
  • downward-facing
    dog, for calf muscles and posterior chain
  • hamstring stretch, standing
    with feet wide, body hanging toward floor
  • standing quadriceps stretch,
    opening through front of thigh and hip
  • chest stretch with hands
    interlaced behind back
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Pamela Light, MA

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