Everyone knows a good chest pump feels cool. Might even make you want to stake out a bench near a mirror.
And that’s great.
But we’re after a physique-altering, vein-discovering, skin-tearing pump. We’re talking stares and steroid accusations.
After a few rounds of the Superman Chest Superset, your chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and traps will be swole like you’ve never seen them before.
To put it plainly, no other single superset will change the way you look so dramatically or so quickly.
This isn’t just about training the “mirror muscles” though. The intensity of repeatedly hitting this superset will also get you shredded, boost overall athleticism and increase explosive power.
*We would caution anyone who suffers from high blood pressure to consider scrolling to the bottom and finding another article to read. Executed correctly, the intensity of this superset is no joke. You’ve been warned.
Before we dive in -- a superset is a way to program your workout that has you going from one exercise right into another, with no rest in between. Once you hit all your reps on both exercises, that’s one superset.
Supersets usually involve opposing muscle groups (like biceps and triceps) or complimentary muscle groups (like chest and shoulders).
Did the skin-tearing, mind-blowing pumps foretold above not make the case? Bruh.
Well here’s the scientific proof that supersets are worth your time.
Right off the bat – they work. Doing supersets led to greater muscle growth and more strength gains than regular sets, according to a study run at the Exercise Pathophysiology Research Laboratory in Brazil and published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
And we’re all busy. Supersets increase intensity and save time, since you’re resting less.
Even better, they can cut down on training time without reducing the effectiveness of the lifts, according to a study published in The European Journal of Applied Physiology.
You get all the bang for your buck (more in fact), in less time.
The secret to a truly unreal chest pump is that it’s not all about the chest. It’s about stretching and hammering the pecs, then immediately engaging the muscles surrounding them.
The result floods the entire region with nutrient-rich blood and forces even more into the pecs themselves.
The superset creates a high-pressure region encircling the pecs, similar to how BFR or Occlusion Training works – each rep you perform forces more blood into the pecs, while the occlusion effect of the swole muscles around the chest will slow blood flow out of the pecs.
More in, less out = insane, cell-volumizing, growth producing pumps. Like we said earlier, this may not be for the faint of heart.
We recommend starting chest day with the Superman Chest Superset, when you're fresh and able to hit it as hard as possible. As a bonus, using this superset at the beginning of your workout will skyrocket the effectiveness any additional chest work you do.
Here’s the game plan:
Looks simple enough. The trick is getting it just right. Here’s how.
Preparation is key with supersets, as we want as little downtime as possible between lifts.
Stake out a set of cables with handles on ‘em, then get a barbell ready for the upright rows and set it nearby. We don’t want any “cheat resting” while moving from one exercise to the other.
Adjust the height of the cables to shoulder-level or about a foot above shoulder-level. Play with the cables and find the weight you can press for 10-12 reps before reaching failure. Get it all dialed in, because once we leave the station, this train don’t stop.
For the upright rows, most people should start with 40 or 50 pounds (for anyone who thinks that’s too light -- we’ll be increasing that weight real soon).
Here’s a quick look at each of the two lifts.
The most important thing to remember is that this is a press, not a flye. The hands travel forward in a straight path, and the elbows bend, then straighten.
The simple way to remember: Move the cables like you’re shoving someone and bam, you’re pressing.
Don’t have access to a cable set up like this? Dumbbell bench press is the next best option to substitute.
‘Why not just bench?’ someone may wonder. The traditional barbell bench press is great for building strength, but it may not actually that great a chest builder. More on that here, for anyone interested.
Use a grip that is at least shoulder-width, if not wider than shoulder width – see the image above.
Studies show the wider grip hits the deltoid better than a narrow grip, and it’s safer too. Finish with the upper arms parallel with the floor, elbows basically at the same height as your shoulders.
If your wrists are stiff or feel cranky, try using an EZ Bar (pictured below). Just remember to use the wide grip.
- Start with 40-50 pounds for your upright rows until you get the hang of things.
- Control the weight on the way up and the way down, and don’t use too much “body English” or leg-drive.
- Try to hold the weight at the top (near shoulder height) for a second.
- After a workout or two implementing the Superman Chest Superset, try to increase the weight on your upright rows to somewhere between 70-100 pounds (or more).
Don’t lift higher than shoulder level.
Don’t use a narrow grip (like our friend below).
Doing either can mess up your shoulders over the long haul. These two common mistakes have given upright rows an undeserved reputation as shoulder killers.
Done correctly, upright rows are a completely safe and incredibly valuable lift for upper body development.
Here’s one more look at the upright row done right:
That’s all there is to it. Add the Superman Chest Superset to your chest days and get ready to shop for some bigger t-shirts.
Build triceps with this highly effective (but excruciating) drop set.
Tip: Try the at-home Leg Day exercise that’s so good you’ll do it even when the gym opens up.