Does your workout routine need this hot new trend?


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I’m a big fan of efficiency, and not just when it comes to exercise. As I’m planning, I try to contemplate how I can make things run more smoothly. If I’m not careful, it can become a slight obsession, to the point where I’m mapping out my day in my head, hour by hour. 

I guess that’s the main reason I’ve always loved incorporating supersets into my weightlifting workouts. Supersets consist of pairing two exercises with minimal rest in between. Supersets can halve your training time while still achieving the same amount of strength training you would in a traditional session. 

For many of us over 40, this could be an appealing option, as we’re often juggling things such as work and spending time with our family and friends, making it challenging on some days to fit exercise into our lives.

How do supersets work?

During a traditional training session, you might do three sets of dumbbell bench presses, three sets of pullups, three sets of squats, and so on, resting a minute between each set.

With supersets, you combine two movements — for example, pullups and goblet squats — and do one set of each, back-to-back, with minimal rest between each set. In this example, once you’ve completed one round of pullups and goblet squats, you would then rest for a defined period, perhaps somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute, depending on your intensity level and conditioning.


If you’ve never done this, it may sound challenging. And it is. You’ll feel supersets in a different way than you feel a normal strength training workout. I’m often left breathing heavily after a round of supersets.

That said, I’ve made some assumptions about supersets in the past. Because they feel more tiring than a normal weight workout and I’ve often heard fitness friends extol their virtues, I’ve assumed they might be burning more calories, or even making me stronger. I decided to see what the science says about supersets.

Do supersets burn more calories?

I’ve heard people claim supersets supercharge your calorie burn, similar to circuit training. This doesn’t appear to be the case. 

One study examined the amount of energy expended during supersets versus traditional strength training sets. While supersets burned more calories relative to the amount of time spent on the workout, the study found no significant difference in calorie burning between a superset workout and a workout made up of traditional sets.

The verdict: You won’t burn more calories doing supersets, but you can burn the same amount of calories in a shorter time. 

Do supersets increase muscle growth?

When I was younger, I remember someone in the gym telling me supersets can increase muscle growth. This person had very large muscles, and that was all the credibility I needed to accept this as fact. 

On its face, the claim seems logical. When you pair two similar strength exercises — say two movements targeting your arms, or two upper-body exercises — you feel a definite “pump” in those muscles. 

Luckily, I found a study that reviewed a bunch of other studies focused on advanced strength training techniques, including supersets. Unfortunately, supersets weren’t found to provoke a superior “hypertrophy” response in your muscles (aka growth in muscles cells).

The verdict: There’s no current evidence that supersets will increase muscle growth or make you stronger, but that pump sure feels good!

What else should you know about supersets?

In reading various studies, I stumbled across a few helpful tidbits that might help you incorporate supersets into your strength training routine:

  1. You may need more rest after a superset workout. They may fatigue your muscles more than a traditional workout, and this study suggests putting superset training earlier in the week and doing traditional training later in the week to help with muscle recovery.
  2. Supersets help spice things up. Getting bored of doing the same weight workouts over and over again? Superset workouts can help break monotony in your routine, according to the study on advanced training techniques and muscle growth. If you’re the type who gets bored during hourlong strength workouts, supersets can help you finish more quickly.
  3. Supersets might improve muscle endurance. The authors of the study on supersets and calorie burn speculate that supersets could help your muscles gain endurance over time, though this isn’t tested in the study.  

How can you work supersets into your strength workouts?

There’s many types of supersets, but I’d recommend a couple of options for people looking for practical strength workouts over age 40.

Pairing push/pull movements for an upper-body workout

If you’re doing an upper-body only strength workout, you can mix and match pushing and pulling movements into supersets. 

Examples of upper-body pulling movements include:

Examples of upper-body pushing movements include:

You could pick and choose from these examples and create a couple of supersets that might look something like this:

  • Dumbbell Bench Press/Dumbbell Rows, three sets of six to eight reps on each movement at a weight that challenges you, with 30 seconds to one minute of rest between each set.
  • Shoulder Press/Hammer Curls, rinse and repeat.
  • Ab wheel or hanging knee raises, accessory finisher.

It may not look like much, but if you’re limited on time, this workout will challenge your strength and cardio.

Pairing upper and lower body movements

My favorite form of supersets is pairing upper and lower body movements for a total body workout. I recommend picking compound movements, which will work as many muscle groups in your body as possible.

Examples of compound lower-body movements include:

You can superset these with some of the upper body exercises listed above. Here’s one approach I use all the time. I like this because it combines the concepts of pairing upper and lower body movements with pushing and pulling movements:

  • Goblet Squat/Pullups, three sets of six to eight reps on each movement, with 30 seconds to one minute of rest between each set.
  • Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift/Dumbbell Bench, rinse and repeat.
  • Optional superset: Bodyweight Lunges/Arnold Press, rinse and repeat.

If you feel like two superset pairings is enough, you could also finish with a few non-superset movements, time permitting. For example, a few sets of Arnold or shoulder presses and a few sets of hammer curls.

This article originally appeared on Practically Fit and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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7 easy ways to get some exercise during your work day

7 easy ways to get some exercise during your work day

We know some of you may be thinking, “It’s easy for them to stay active during the day; they work out for a living.” First, that’s only partially true, but secondly, there are some of “us” who may not be getting enough daily physical activity. 

No, we’re serious. 

While regular workouts are important to our overall health, they won’t do much if we spend the rest of the day just sitting down. Yet that’s exactly what a majority of Americans are doing, according to most health experts. Multiple studies have found that sitting for more than eight hours a day poses some major health risks. 

This may seem shocking, especially if you’re someone who has to work at a computer for long periods of time (whether in an office or on your living room couch). But there’s some good news: you don’t need a second rigorous sweat session to be considered physically active. 

There are many small, yet effective ways to remain active that won’t disrupt your workflow and keep you active throughout the work day. You may also see some mental health benefits, such as decreased stress and more natural energy, in addition to the physical ones. 

In this article, we’ll give you seven ways to remain active during the day and how doing so can benefit your health. 

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Besides putting you at-risk for some health conditions, sitting for too long can also increase your chances of arthritis and lower-back pain, especially if you have poor posture (we see you straightening up). There have also been studies that show prolonged sitting could cause you to lose some bone density and cause muscle atrophy (the loss of muscle tissue). 

One of the easiest and most effective ways to counteract this is to simply stretch. Researchers found that static stretching (where you move one muscle as far as it will go and hold it there for 30-60 seconds) can help reduce lower-back pain, and there have been others that show it may improve sleep and circulation in some people. 

Lastly, stretching can increase your muscles’ range of motion, or how far you can move it, which can benefit you during your weightlifting workouts, as you’ll be able to perform more moves with less pain and help prevent injuries.

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Here are a few stretches you can perform at any point during the work day. Hold each for 30-60 seconds, and perform as many as possible (you can even do them multiple times):

  • Upper-back Stretch: With your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart and knees bent, interlock your fingers and push your hands as far away from your chest as possible.  
  • Shoulder Stretch: With your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart and knees bent, place one arm across your chest and parallel with the ground. Use the other forearm to pull the first one toward your chest. Repeat on the other side. 
  • Quadricep Stretch: With your feet shoulder-width apart, lift one foot off the floor (holding onto something for balance if needed) and use your hand to pull it toward your glutes. Keep your posture straight. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Hamstring Stretch: Lie flat on your back and pull your thigh toward your chest (you can use your hand or a towel if you find you can’t get your leg far enough). 
  • Chest Stretch: Place your hands behind your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together (this one can also be done while sitting down). 
  • Lower-back Stretch: While sitting down, use your hand to bring your knee toward your chest while keeping your back straight. Repeat with the other leg.

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Micro-workouts are exactly what they sound like: workouts done in small doses. They can last anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes and don’t necessarily have to be sweat inducing (but we’d still pack an extra deodorant stick just in case). It’s just about getting the body moving. 

One study found that women who climbed stairs at a fast rate three times a day for just 20 seconds a session saw significant improvements in their cardiovascular health. 


Here’s a quick micro-workout you can modify to your space and time constraints. Ideally, you’d want to do each for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds, before moving onto the next one but again you can change that to 10 seconds each if needed (remember that some movement is better than nothing at all):

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Sometimes, you get super-involved in a project, and all of a sudden, the only thing you can think of is what’s in front of you. That may or may not have happened to this writer as he was putting the finishing touches on this story. 

There are many ways to ensure you don’t get stuck in a productivity vortex and forget to make time to move, such as setting a timer on your phone or fitness tracker for every hour to take a five-minute break.

Another method we recommend is the Pomodoro technique, which may also help you become a more productive person in general. Here’s how it works: 

  • Write down a list of tasks you need to get done.
  • Set a timer for 50 minutes, and solely focus on that first task.
  • When the timer goes off, take a 10-minute break. During this time, you can do some physical activity.
  • At the end of your break, go back to your tasks. 
  • Repeat. 
  • Add in a 20-minute break after completing every four tasks.

It can be hard to get to the gym during the work day, so why not bring the gym to you? No, you don’t have to bring an entire weight set to the office (though that’d be pretty cool). 

This can be something like an under-desk treadmill or bike, or a treadmill desk. I personally have a folding exercise bike that has a laptop stand that I use during some Zoom meetings. I make it a point to pedal for the entire meeting, sometimes at a leisurely pace, and sometimes, I up the resistance a little bit if I’m looking for a challenge.

But don’t limit yourself to just traditional exercise equipment. A standing desk is a great way to promote movement (you can lunge in place in between emails), as is replacing your traditional office chair with something like a medicine ball chair (which will challenge your core and enforce proper posture).  

Bonus tip: Check to see if your employer will reimburse you for part or all of the cost of a piece of equipment you have your eyes on. 

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Physical activity may not seem like the most enticing thing to do on your well-deserved break, but again it doesn’t have to be anything strenuous. Have an hour for lunch? Take 30 minutes to take a walk outside (or down a few flights of stairs if the weather isn’t cooperating). 

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But you also don’t have to wait until your break to get some steps in. If you have a one-on-one meeting, suggest that you turn it into a walking meeting if you’re in person. For those who work remotely, try participating in the call from your phone and taking a walk (even if it’s just around your home). 

This was something I’d frequently do during my days as a reporter when I had a call with a source that I knew would take a while. After a few weeks of doing that, I noticed my cardiovascular endurance improved significantly. 

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We’ve all heard that “too much of a good thing can be bad,” and that goes for physical activity as well. Not only could it drain your energy levels, making it harder to remain active, but it could also increase the amounts of stress hormones in your system, which affects things like sleep and mood.


Dedicate some of your breaks to doing some breathing exercises, making yourself a cup of tea or calling a friend for a quick chat.

Yup, you read that right. Fidgeting your fingers or even tapping your feet can help you burn hundreds of calories per day. Just try to find a method that won’t annoy your co-workers.

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“I already worked out this morning. Why do I need to continue moving during the day?”

We’re glad you asked! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says adults need to do two types of physical activity every week to keep their health in check: muscle-building and aerobic activity. 

Muscle-building can be any form of resistance training, and it should be done at least twice a week and target all muscle groups. This can be CrossFit, powerlifting, bodyweight training or Olympic weightlifting. 

Aerobic activity is any form of cardiovascular exercise, from walking to running, and there are three ways to achieve your weekly goal: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity or a mixture of the two. 

Reaching these goals are the best ways to prevent arthritis, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart problems and other diseases. 

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It should be noted that you can get the same health benefits from splitting up your workout into smaller chunks throughout the day as you would doing it all at once, according to the CDC. Doing this can also help you engage in what’s known as intuitive movement or moving in a way that feels natural for your body when you feel like it. 

In other words, if you want to get up and stretch your legs you don’t have to wait for an excuse to do it–just get up and walk. And if you don’t want to at a particular moment, don’t. 

There aren’t many studies on intuitive movement, but it has been endorsed by many personal trainers and physicians as a way to get people to remain physically active. Daniel Lieberman, an evolutionary scientist at Harvard University, also says it’s more in-line with how humans have moved for thousands of years. 

“When people don’t exercise, we label them as lazy, but they are actually doing what we evolved to do–which is to avoid unnecessary physical activity,” Lieberman told The Irish Times

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Our distant ancestors were more active than us, but only because they needed to be. They were either moving to a new camping ground or hunting a giant wooly mammoth for food. They wouldn’t start pressing logs above their heads when it wasn’t required, since they needed to conserve energy for when it really mattered.

Lieberman adds that movement is still necessary for our everyday health and survival, as it was back then. “We evolved to be physically active,” he says in the same article. “It is important for almost every system in the body.” 

I honestly think you’ll see more people gravitate toward intuitive movement in the future. An exercise routine can be great for those who need guidance, but there are those who may not want to do the same thing over and over again. It’s similar to a child who refuses to eat broccoli–it’d be better to find a vegetable they do like rather than struggling to get them to eat the one they hate.

Still need some ideas on how to remain active during your work day? We asked some of the best people we know–our readers–what they do while at work to keep themselves moving. 

One commenter said they recommend Tabata workouts. This type of exercise entails four-minute HIIT-style routines with 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. So, you would do 20 seconds of air squats, rest for 10 seconds and repeat until your four minutes are up.

Anyone who’s spent more than a minute on the fitness side of the internet has heard they probably have to do specific exercises for a set amount of time to get their desired results. That might be true under some circumstances, but if your goal is to become a generally healthier person then just know that some movement is better than nothing at all. 

This can be done through five-minute walks, some quick stretches, or even just standing at your desk for a few minutes a day. A little bit goes a long way, and if you find a system that works for you, you’re more likely to stick to it rather than forcing yourself to go through a grueling regimen you don’t look forward to.

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

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