Have you ever started to head to the gym with the intent of doing a killer workout that gets your heart pumping, burns major calories, and works your muscles? Sounds like a great idea, right? The only problem is that most of us have no idea what kind of workout we are going to do to achieve those goals.  You get to the gym, warm up, and then are ready to start, but you haven’t quite decided what exercises you are going to do. You decide to do a total body workout and just pick some exercises that you like and that aren’t too difficult. After an hour of working out, you decide that you’ve done enough and are ready to go home. This sounds like a good trip to the gym except you didn’t achieve that killer workout that you really wanted to do.

So where do we begin when we face this dilemma?  The place to start is to plan your workout before you even head to the gym. Plan ahead and write it out ahead of time so that you don’t waste any time at the gym and so that you can really accomplish a killer workout in a decent amount of time. So, what kind of workout is best to get that heart pumping, burn calories, and work your muscles? Well, there is a plethora of workouts out there that can help you achieve these goals, however, one of my personal favorites is the superset workout. A superset consists of two exercises that you perform back-to-back without any rest in between. You can do a superset with two exercises that hit one muscle group or you can do one of my favorite types which is a superset with opposing muscle groups. An antagonist superset workout is great for several reasons. Firstly, you can work multiple muscle groups in one workout. This means you can get in a total body workout. Secondly, you can burn major calories by performing two exercises with no rest in between. Without that rest period, you can keep your heart rate up, which burns more calories. Lastly, you can complete a killer workout in a shorter period of time because of the lack of rest periods. Sounds like a great workout, right? And to make it even more effective, you can even walk or run for a couple minutes between supersets for even more cardio. Below are some antagonist superset examples. So head to the gym and start super-setting!

Chest and Back: 3 Sets of 8-12 Reps

1.      Chest Exercise: Dumbbell Chest Press

Description: Lie on a bench with a dumbbell in each hand and your feet flat on the floor or up on the bench if it’s more comfortable. Push the dumbbells up so that your arms are directly over your shoulders and your palms are up. Keep your abs and chest tight. Lower the dumbbells down and a little to the side until your elbows are slightly below your shoulders. Push the weights back up, taking care not to lock out your elbows or to allow your shoulder blades to rise off the bench.

2.      Back Exercise: Cable Squat Row

Description: Hook a straight bar up to the cable machine and place the handle at a notch about waist height.  Grab the handle with both hands and pull it out so that the cable is taught. With your arms extended, bend at the knees and squat down till your knees make a 90-degree angle. As you stand back up, pull the bar to your chest and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Squat back down and extend your arms back out at the same time. This completes one repetition.


Quadriceps and Hamstrings: 3 Sets of 8-12 Reps

1.      Quads Exercise: Leg Extension Machine

Description: Sit on the padded seat of the machine. Hook the feet under the padded bar.  Adjust the bar so that it rests comfortably at the lower end of the leg just above the feet.  Adjust the machine so that your legs can bend at a 90-degree angle. Don't perform the exercise with less than a 90-degree angle, because this places the knees beyond the toes, which stresses the knee. Choose a weight that enables you to extend the legs straight with effort but not too much strain. Grip the bars firmly at your sides. Hold your head steady and brace your core. Extend your legs, engaging your quadriceps to lift the weighted bar. Pause at the top of the extension. Slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.

2.      Hamstrings Exercise: Leg Curl Machine

Description: Adjust the machine lever to fit your height and sit on the machine with your back against the back support pad. Place the back of your lower legs on top of the padded lever (just a few inches under the calves) and secure the lap pad against your thighs, just above the knees. Grasp the handles on the machine as you flex your feet towards your shins. As you exhale, flex your legs down until they are at a 90-degree angle. Hold the contracted position for a second and then slowly return to the starting position.


Biceps and Triceps: 3 Sets of 8-12 Reps

1.      Biceps Exercise: Cable Bicep Curl with Rope

Description:  Adjust the cable machine at one end so that the cable is attached at the bottom of the sliding adjustment.  Stand comfortably with feet flat on the floor and knees slightly bent. Brace the abdominal muscles, straighten the back, and keep the head steady. Grasp the end of the rope firmly. Keeping your elbows glued to your side, curl your arms up to your chest. Hold for a second and then slowly return to the starting position.

2.      Triceps Exercise: Cable Tricep Pressdown with Rope

Description: Face the triceps pushdown cable machine and grasp the ends of the rope. Adjust the rope so that it rests at about chest level. Tuck the elbows into your sides and position the feet comfortably, slightly apart. While bracing the abdominal muscles, press down on the rope until the elbows are fully extended but not in the straight, locked position. Bend the knees slightly on the pressdown and stay as upright as possible with your back flat. Slowly bring the rope up to the starting position while keeping the elbows glued to your sides.


Kaitlyn Hummel is a full-time fitness specialist, a certified personal trainer, and group fitness instructor at McLeod Health and Fitness Center. She received her Exercise Physiologist certification through the American College of Sports Medicine in the summer of 2018. She graduated from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. She enjoys playing soccer, swimming, running, cycling indoors and outdoors, and doing just about any recreational activity. She is always up to a challenge when it comes to working out and is always open to trying new things.