by Cary Raffle
Pro Trainer, New York Sports Clubs, NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Copyright ©2005 Cary Raffle
We want results. We don’t have much time. And we want value. That’s why circuit training with supersets is working for my clients and me.

Circuit training involves a series of different exercises done one after another, with a brief rest period in between, like XPRESSline® at New York Sports Clubs. Circuit training is popular because it efficiently uses time, and can burn more calories than other workouts because there is limited rest. The National Academy of Sports Medicine says that circuit training is ideal for individuals trying to alter their body composition. The increased activity level and volume can help you to lose weight faster.

A superset combines sets of two or more different exercises, often for the same muscle group, with no pause to rest in between. By combining two exercises for the same muscle group into a superset, such as a chest press followed by pectoral flies, it is possible to work the muscles longer and harder before tiring or risking injury, compared to a single exercise.

NASM recommends a superset of a more stable exercise followed by a less stable exercise, such as bench press and push up, to increase stabilization endurance, muscle growth (hypertrophy), and strength. NASM recommends supersetting a strength and power exercise, for example a hack squat followed by an explosive jump squat, to train for increased power.

Other variations of the superset include compound sets and peripheral heart action. In compound sets, opposing muscle groups, such as biceps/triceps, chest/back or hamstrings/quadriceps, are worked without rest in between. The muscle recovers as the opposing muscle is being worked. Peripheral heart action combines an upper and lower body exercise, such as shoulder or chest and legs. It is recommended for individuals with cardiovascular problems, but can be beneficial to all.

Superset-circuit training combines these into an intense almost non-stop workout that maximizes the value of your training sessions. It is a technique that can be used by most people, depending on their goals, ranging from beginners to the experienced and conditioned. At NYSC, I have incorporated it into sessions on XPRESSline, and used it with my most conditioned clients. Superset-circuit training can allow you to do a higher volume of training in a shorter period of time, and burn more calories per hour than most traditional work-outs.

To build a workout or program using Superset-Circuit Training, the workout is broken into a series of mini circuits consisting of exercises that are appropriate to the individual’s goals and fitness levels. Often, the specifics will be pre-determined by the location of desired equipment within the exercise facility.

Superset-Circuit Training can be strenuous, so it is important to be mindful of the heart rate, especially among beginners. Some will approach their cardio training zone in the circuit. Use a heart rate monitor or rate of perceived exertion (i.e., if you feel really winded or tired it is time to rest), take breaks when needed since they do not occur naturally.

The charts below illustrate some simple mini-circuits that can be incorporated into programs at varying fitness levels.
1) Increased Shoulder Muscle and Leg Power
Lateral Raise/8-10 x 3
Hack Squat/15 x 3
Jump Squat/20 x 3

2) Endurance & Stabilization Strength,General Conditioning
Bench Press/12-15 x 2
Pectoral Fly on Ball/12-15 x 2
Lunge w/dumbells/20 x 2

3) General Conditioning, Muscle Growth (Hypertrophy)
Cable Bicep Curl/8-15 x 3
Cable Tricep Pull/8-15 x 3
Lunge w/dumbells (optional)/20 x 2

4) General Conditioning, Muscle Growth (Hypertrophy), Weight Loss
Leg Extension (Quadricep)/15 x 2
Hamstring Curl/15 x 2
Step Ups w/Bicep Curl or Lateral Raise/20 x 2

For more information please contact: Cary Raffle 917.603.3813


Cast Iron Skillet Chicken
2 Tbsps Olive Oil, 1 Chopped Onion, 2-3 cloves garlic, 1/2 Chopped Green or Red Pepper, About 6 Mushrooms sliced in chunks
1-2 Tbsp each Oregano + Basil, 1-2 Tsp each Paprika + Black Pepper, a few pinches of salt (to taste)
1 Cup Rice, 4-6 Chicken Breasts, 1 Can 16-19 oz Black Beans, 1 Can 28 oz Crushed Tomatoes (or use tomato sauce), 2-3 cups water
Preaheat oven to 350. On stovetop, heat the skillet and oil, add the onions and saute until soft and lightly brown. Lower heat, add the garlic mushrooms and peppers, saute til soft. (if not using a cast iron skillet, transfer the contents of pan to a baking dish once sauteed).
Spinkle half the seasonings and mix in with the sauteed vegetables. Add rice, beans, top with chicken. Sprinkle remaining seasonings on top and pour tomatoes over all. Add one cup water. Cover the skillet with aluminum foil and place it in the oven for about 25 minutes, watch to make sure it remains moist and add more water as needed. After 25 minutes, remove the foil and cook another 10-15 minutes, til rice is soft. While cooking, continue to add water to keep the rice moist. Remove from oven and allow a few minutes to cool.

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