Exercising can lead to desired changes in your body’s physiology, whether you focus on strength training or cardiovascular exercise. However, the human body is extremely adaptable to the stresses put upon it and soon you may find that the workout program that initially brought you results does little for you. A common method to break through a training plateau is to link your exercises or training techniques together as you workout to synergistically combine their benefits and push your body to new limits.
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Supersets are an advanced bodybuilding technique in which you perform a set of two different exercises back-to-back. According to MuscleandStrength.com founder Damien Mase, the exercises you choose for supersets must be close together on your body, such as triceps and biceps or hamstrings and quadriceps. Once you have chosen two exercises, perform a full set of one followed immediately by a full set of the second. This combination of exercises forces more blood into the target muscles and will cause you to reach muscle exhaustion quickly.
Combining weightlifting exercises is like a superset, but even more synergistic. With this type of training, you combine the movement of two different exercises into a single repetition to really push yourself to the limit. According to fitness author and personal trainer Nick Nilsson, you must use exercises that can easily be switched between in a single motion. For example, you could perform a deadlift repetition and continue the motion upward to a chin row. Nilsson advises that you continue the set until one exercise motion reaches failure, and then finish the set by performing the other exercise set until you fail at that as well.
A 2007 Washington Post article by Laura S. Jones titled Cardio Vs. Weights: The Battle Is Over, states that combining cardiovascular exercise and weight training is the best way to burn calories. Circuit training is the most common way to synergistically combine the benefits of these two modalities. During a circuit training routine, you select weight training exercises and quickly perform a single set of each exercise, moving through the exercises, or circuit, multiple times with very little rest. This style of training gives you the benefits of lifting weights, but keeps your heart elevated to maximize the calories you burn.
Get the Most from a Rep
Even when you are training with only one exercise, you can make use of the synergy between the contraction, or positive, and stretching, or negative, phases of an exercise. One example of this would be to mount the leg press machine and perform two normal repetitions where you push the weight positively up. After these repetitions are completed, remove one leg from the weight and use your remaining leg to slowly lower the weight in a negative direction. This type of training challenges your muscles to maintain control as you release the weight.