There is a saying in the fitness industry: If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got. In simple terms, this means that if you want to change your body, you need to periodically change your workouts. Doing the same thing over and over will invariably produce the same results. Unfortunately, many lifters get stuck in a rut and stick with the same program long past its sell-by date. As a result, their muscles stop growing, and they find themselves teetering on the edge of a progress plateau. This reluctance to change programs often comes from fear of the unknown or the hope that a once-productive workout will start working again. If your current workout routine has stopped working, small changes won’t bust you out of your progress prison. Instead, you need to make dramatic changes to your training regimen and get your training back on track. One way to do this is with supersets. In this article, we share our latest back superset workout designed to pack on mass and build strength in double-quick time.
Back Anatomy Basics
Back Anatomy Muscles
When the average person talks about their back, they’re usually referring to their lumbar spine or lower back. This makes sense, given that this is a problem area for a lot of people and a common source of discomfort and pain. A high percentage of adults experience back pain in their lifetimes, and it’s a leading cause of work absenteeism and disability. In contrast, when bodybuilders talk about their backs, they’re referring to several muscles that make up the rear of their torsos. When well-developed, the back muscles give your upper body thickness and width, making you look powerful and strong. While some bodybuilders neglect their backs and focus more on the muscles they can see in the mirror, lifters in the know pay as much attention to the muscles on the back of their bodies as the front. A big, muscular back is a beautiful sight to behold! The main muscles that make up the back are:
The latissimus dorsi, or lats for short, are located on the sides of your torso. When well-developed, they resemble broad, muscular wings. These muscles play a crucial role in most shoulder joint movements, including extension, adduction, and medial rotation.
The trapezius or traps is a large, diamond-shaped muscle covering most of your upper back. It comprises three sets of fibers – upper, middle, and lower. The upper fibers elevate your shoulder girdle, the middle fibers handle retraction, and the lower fibers pull your shoulders down in a movement called depression.
Working alongside the mid-traps, the rhomboids play a crucial role in pulling your shoulder blades back and together, which is a movement known as retraction. Though relatively small, they contribute to the thickness of your upper back.
The erector spinae muscles, situated along your spine, play a vital role in maintaining proper posture and supporting your back. There are three erector spinae muscles: the iliocostalis, longissimus, and spinalis. Together, they resemble thick columns running on either side of your spine. These muscles are involved in several movements, including extension, lateral flexion, and rotation of the spine. During back exercises such as deadlifts and rows, the erector spinae muscles provide the support needed to keep your spine correctly aligned, reducing your risk of injury.
It’s hard to train your back without using your biceps brachii, or biceps for short. Located on the front of your upper arms, the biceps flex your elbows. As such, almost all back exercises also train your biceps.
The deltoids are your most significant shoulder muscles. Like the trapezius, they comprise three sets of fibers – anterior (front), medial (middle), and posterior (rear). All three groups of fibers are involved in most back exercises. However, the posterior deltoids are the most active, especially during rowing movements.
Forearm and grip strength can make or break your back workout. Most back exercises involve pulling, so you cannot avoid using your forearms. Some exercisers use lifting straps to make up for their weak grip. However, direct grip training may be a better solution than relying on external crutches.
What Are Supersets?
Before we share our latest back workout, let’s take a quick look at supersets, explaining what they are and why they’re so beneficial and effective. That way, you’ll not only know how to perform the workout but also how and why it works. Supersets involve doing two exercises back-to-back. In other words, you do the first exercise and then, without resting, immediately do the second. On completing exercise number two, you rest for a moment or two and repeat the pairing as many times as required. For example:
Pull-ups x 8-12
Dips x 8-12
Rest for 1-2 minutes and repeat
Types of Superset
There are several recognized types of supersets, including:
Agonist supersets – two exercises for the same muscle group, e.g., squats and leg presses. These are also known as compound sets.
Agonist/antagonist supersets – two exercises for opposing muscle groups, e.g., biceps curls and triceps pushdowns.
Agonist/opposing synergist supersets – one exercise for a large muscle group and one for an opposing small muscle group, e.g., shoulder presses and biceps curls.
Agonist/distant agonist supersets – two exercises for anatomically distant muscle groups, e.g., calf raises and wrist curls.
Lower body/upper body supersets – one leg exercise followed by one torso or arm exercise, e.g., step-ups and push-ups.
Post-exhaust supersets – a compound exercise followed by an isolation exercise for the same muscle group, e.g., shoulder presses and cable lateral raises.
Pre-exhaust supersets – an isolation followed by a compound exercise for the same muscle group, e.g., leg curls and Romanian deadlifts.
What’s so great about supersets? Let’s take a look at the advantages and benefits of this popular and effective training method:
Shorter workouts – doing two exercises back-to-back means you half the amount of time you spend…