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My current weigth-training-plan is roughly like this:

arm-exercise-A 10-reps
2min pause
arm-exercise-A 10-reps
2min pause
arm-exercise-A 10-reps
2min pause
arm-exercise-B 10-reps
...
2min pause
leg-exercise-B 10-reps
2min pause
leg-exercise-B 10-reps
2min pause
leg-exercise-B 10-reps

Unfortunately it takes far too much time, and there is esentially nothing useful nor fun I can do in those 2 min pauses.

My question: Would the workout be less effective if I would intertwine the exercises of different muscle groups such that I fill the 2min pauses but there is still 2mins between the exercises of the same muscle-group?

For example (assuming that a 10-rep session takes about a minute):

arm-exercise-A 10-reps
    leg-exercise-A 10-reps
        1min pause
arm-exercise-A 10-reps
    leg-exercise-A 10-reps
        1min pause
arm-exercise-A 10-reps
    leg-exercise-A 10-reps
        1min pause
...

Will such a workout in your opinion be less effective in causing muscle growth?

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2 Answers 2

What you describe is called "super-setting" and sometimes a "barbell complex". It's a tried and true approach to training, particularly when working with assistance exercises or focusing on conditioning. There are a few things to consider with super-sets:

  • There is a major conditioning component to them, which can cause you to fatigue faster.
  • Planning super-sets requires you to have local rest, for example following lower body work with upper body work.
  • Planning barbell complexes require that you have a smooth progression from one movement to another.

The conditioning aspect allows you to use your barbell training for metabolic conditioning which is a great way to economize time in the gym. However, because your heart rate gets up and you don't have much rest between exercises you'll find you can't do as much work as if you were to do the exercise in isolation. There are approaches to manage this as well. Since my coach is having me focus on conditioning, he has me super-setting all my work twice a week.

Managing super-sets:

  • Super-sets usually have rest between sets. You can use time, or if you use a heart rate monitor you can use a minimum heart rate to dictate when you do the next set.
  • Sometimes super-sets have rest between exercises. Again, you can use time or a minimum heart rate. The idea is to keep the rest between exercises much smaller than the rest between sets.
  • Barbell complexes have a rep progression and goal time for the whole thing to be done. For example, the "Evil 8" complex has you performing sets of 6 on the first round, and working down to only 1 rep per set--90 seconds rest between sets. If you manage to do the whole thing in 12 minutes or less, you can increase weight.

Super-sets do allow you to condense your time in the gym, which is why they are a very effective way of doing your assistance work. Due to the fatigue component, they do have a greater training stimulus than if you performed the same weight and reps individually. Also, due to the fatigue component, they can interfere with the primary lift. It's best to save them until after your primary work, or use them as conditioning tools.

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What you are describing is typically referred to as "super setting". There's nothing inherently wrong with that approach, and, it's typically used to try and invoke more muscle growth/strength. However, super setting is usually a fairly high intensity type of routine that should not be followed indefinitely. It can be used effectively if it's cycled with other approaches to training.

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Could you maybe add sources describing the pros and cons on this kind of supersetting? As there're many kinds of supersetting, that would help to clear the fog a bit. –  LarissaGodzilla Aug 1 at 13:14
    
I think Berin just did. –  rrirower Aug 1 at 13:23

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