|Superset or not? The research question here is a different one...|
Unfortunately, a recent study from Brazil has recently disillusioned me within less than one second - the title was enough: "Supersets do not change energy expenditure during strength training sessions in physically active individuals" (Brentano. 2016)... until I realized that it fooled me to believe that we were talking about a comparison of super setting to super setting... synergistic and non-synergistic that is.
What? Yeah, the scientists from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul measured the energy expenditure (EE) during standardized strength training (ST) of 20 subjects who were assigned to either a "grouped exercise" (GE: 26.6 ± 3.4 years) or a "separated exercise" (SE: 24.9 ± 2.6 years) - both of them superset protocols, albeit one with synergistic (grouped) and one with antagonistic (separate | actually, this was rather "non-synergistic", as you will learn in minute.
|Figure 1: Illustration of energy expenditure data acquisition. EPOC = excess postexercise oxygen consumption;|
ST: strength training; VO2: oxygen uptake (Brentano. 2016).
|Intra- and post-workout aerobic energy expenditure with super setting and traditional resistance training (Kelleher. 2009).|
A sign. effect was observed, however, for the post-exercise excess energy consumption (EPOC), which increased by a whopping 33% - sounds like much, but with an absolute difference of only ~4.78 kcal per workout (SUPER 79.36 ± 7.49 kJ; TRAD 59.67 ± 8.37 kJ) that's as irrelevant as the non-sign. 7% (= 0,25 kcal/kg body weight) difference in the total metabolic cost of the two workouts, i.e. SUPER (15.52 ± 1.13 kJ/kg body weight) and TRAD (14.52 ± 1.17 kJ/kg; p = 0.265).
- Hypertrophy oriented - All exercises were performed at the load obtained during the 10 RM tests; therefore, both sessions were conducted with loads equivalent to 85% of 10 RM.
- Grouped exercises (GE) - During GE, the participants performed one set of the leg press exercise, immediately followed by one set of the knee extension exercise, with no rest between each exercise. After five sets, the participants performed one set of the bench press exercise, immediately followed by one set of the pec deck exercise, with no rest between each exercise.
- Separated exercises (SE) - During SE, the participants performed one set of the bench press exercise, immediately followed by one set of the knee extension exercise, with no rest between each exercise. After five sets, the participants performed one set of the leg press exercise, immediately followed by one set of the pec deck exercise, with no rest between each exercise.
- Standardized rest - In both GE and SE, there were 3 minutes of rest between every two exercises (superset) to minimize the decrease in total work for subsequent sets.
"Total work during the session and increases in lactate concentrations were similar between the GE and SE Groups. During exercise, EE was greater in the SE Group when compared with the GE Group (GE: 123.8 ± 14.36 kcal vs. SE: 131.77 ± 20.91 kcal). During the postexercise period, GE induced greater EE when compared with SE (GE: 25.12 ± 7.86 kcal vs. SE: 19.76 ± 5.53 kcal)" (Brentano. 2016).What? Doesn't that mean that the EE did differ? Yes, it does, but the exercise sequence did not influence the previously cited, most relevant parameter, the overall EE (GE: 148.92 ± 18.72 kcal vs. SE: 151.53 ± 17.97 kcal, p = 0.920). Accordingly, the scientists rightly say that "in physically active men, ST supersets do not influence total EE during and 60 minutes after a single session" (Brentano. 2016).
- Brentano, M. A., et al. "Supersets do not change energy expenditure during strength training sessions in physically active individuals." Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness 14.2 (2016): 41-46.
- Brennecke, Allan, et al. "Neuromuscular activity during bench press exercise performed with and without the preexhaustion method." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 23.7 (2009): 1933-1940.
- Kelleher, Andrew R., et al. "The metabolic costs of reciprocal supersets vs. traditional resistance exercise in young recreationally active adults." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 24.4 (2010): 1043-1051.