If you loathe leg day, odds are your aim is to get through it as fast as possible. Lucky for you, lower-body supersets will help you do just that without sacrificing the quality of your workout.
"A superset is simply two exercises [that work opposing muscles] paired together with little to no rest," says Lindsay Ogden, a personal trainer at Life Time. Since you don't pause between exercises, "you basically double the amount of work done," she says. Translation: You can accomplish more in less time.
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But time efficiency isn't the only bonus of training this way. Supersets are stellar for building muscle. Compound supersets (ones where both exercises target the same muscles) with typically 8 to 12 reps focus on hypertrophy (muscles getting bigger), Ogden says.
Alternatively, "if you if you're looking to achieve a little more conditioning in your lower-body workout, you can pick a series of rapid, high-rep sets (between 12 and 20). This type of superset will not only increase muscular endurance but will also challenge you metabolically," says Ogden. "Basically, there's no need for a separate cardio session."
On your next leg day, give this superset workout designed by Ogden a go. For building muscle, do 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps with 30 to 60 seconds of rest between each superset. For cardio endurance, do 2 to 3 sets of 10 to 20 reps with limited rest.
Superset 1: Romanian Deadlifts and Front Squats
This traditional superset combines two of the most effective compound moves for your lower body. While deadlifts work your backside (glutes and hamstrings), front squats target your muscles in the front of your legs (your quads), so you can power through reps without petering out. "When one muscle contracts, the opposing muscle will have time to relax," Ogden says.
Move 1: Romanian Deadlift
- Set a kettlebell between your feet or position a barbell so that it rests just over your shoelaces.
- Keeping your shoulders down (away from ears) and back, send your butt and hips back (as if you're trying to shut your car door behind you) while maintaining a flat back.
- Feel your hamstrings lengthen as you slightly bend your knees, then drive through your feet, sitting back into your heels to lift the weight.
- Stand up straight, squeezing your butt at the top, then lower the weight back to the start.
Move 2: Front Squat
- Hold two dumbbells or a barbell in front of your shoulders.
- Keeping your chest up, set your hips back as if you're sitting into a chair.
- Once your butt is at the same level as your knees, drive through your feet to stand back up.
Read more: 6 Deadlift Variations to Add to Leg Day
Superset 2: Hip Thrust and Forward Lunge
Like the first superset, this combo of moves involves opposing muscle groups (posterior and anterior), which will help you avoid fatigue. While circuits that focus on one muscle group can be too taxing, supersets like these allow the body to recover for the next set, so your muscles can perform optimally during the whole workout, according to Ogden.
Move 1: Hip Thrust
- Place your mid-back on a bench or soft box with your feet hip-width apart and place a weight across your hips. Make sure your knees aren't leaning over your toes.
- Avoid arching your lower back as you drive through your feet, lifting your hips to the ceiling and squeezing your butt.
- Lower your hips and repeat.
Move 2: Alternating Forward Lunge
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides and stand tall.
- Step your right foot forward and lower into a lunge until both knees are at 90-degree angles.
- Keep your shoulders down and back and your chest up. Push off your right (front) foot to return to a standing position.
- Repeat the movement with your left foot forward and continue alternating legs with each rep.
Read more: 10 Exercise Pairs That Were Made For Each Other
Superset 3: Glute-Ham Raise and Leg Press
This superset — which requires weight machines — is a great way to increase your intensity with just the right amount of stimulus to support muscle growth, Ogden says. "Pairing exercises with opposing muscle groups will help you avoid overdoing it in any particular area, allowing you to keep up the intensity."
Move1: Glute-Ham Raise
- Hook your feet in the foot holds, then lie over the padded area so your hips hinge over the pad.
- Let your upper body fall over the pad so you're hanging upside down.
- Cross your hands in front of your chest (you can hold a weight to make it more challenging).
- Squeezing your butt, lift your upper body so your entire body creates one straight line at the top of the movement.
Move 2: Leg Press
- Sit on the machine with your back and head resting comfortably against the padded support.
- Place your feet about hip-width apart on the footplate, then soften your knees and let them go toward your armpits, keeping your feet flat on the platform.
- Once you can't lower any further, drive your feet into the platform and your legs away from your body.
- Keep a slight bend in your legs at the top of the move, making sure not to lock out your knees.