Overhead presses are the best way to start your shoulder workouts as they target all three heads (emphasis on the front and middle). The superset is a one-station dandy that targets the middle delt (upright row) and then the rear delt (though it’s done one arm at a time), requiring only a change in handles.
Cable Upright Row
Cable Lateral Raise
Tip: Don’t cheat on upright rows or single-arm bent-over cable raises.
The wide grip hits the upper lats and middle back muscles especially well. Both major types of back exercises are included here: rows and pulldowns. The superset is done on the same cable station: the first exercise targets the upper lats; the latter the lower lats.
Standing T-Bar Row
Wide-Grip Lat Pulldown
Straight-Arm Cable Pulldown
Tip: For maximum contraction, retract your scapulae on each rep of back exercises.
Because there are so many muscle groups that make up the leg, this is the only workout that consists of two supersets. Go heavy on the leg press and then rep to failure with bodyweight squats (great for quads emphasis). After three sets grab a pair of dumbbells and alternate romanian deadlifts with lunges (more emphasis on glutes and hams).
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
Tip: The multijoint-based supersets will fully exhaust your lower body in minutes.
Though not a multijoint move, the barbell curl is considered the top mass builder as you can move the most weight. With your elbows tight to your sides — don’t allow your elbows to pull forward so there’s no contribution from the shoulders — you can work both biceps heads. You’ll get a slightly different angle of pull with the first cable curl and the benefit of working each side independent of the other. Move the cable quickly to the top and you shift the focus to the biceps’ short head.
Standing One-Arm Cable Curl
Standing One-Arm High-Pulley Cable Curl
Tip: To engage additional muscle fibers, hold and squeeze at the peak contraction.
Again, starting off with a multijoint move allows you to go really heavy and overload the arms. The superset pairing requires an EZ-bar and a flat bench; when you hit failure with the skullcrushers, go right into the pressdown. With your arms angled toward your head (as opposed to by your sides) on the skull, you get more long head activation, which is important as it’s the bulkiest of the three triceps heads.
EZ-Bar Cable Skullcrusher
Tip: Overload with heavy weights early in your workout.
A handful of scientifically engineered workouts to get you back outdoors into the sun without compromising your gym time. And suggestions for building your own perfect superfast workouts in the future.
As you grow in wisdom, you realize that few things in life should take 90 minutes. Not your wait in line at the DMV, not your commute and certainly not your workout. We’ve all done it — droning through an exhaustive list of exercises, taking too much rest between sets, waiting on a machine that has a perfectly adequate (and available) substitute nearby. The amount of time wasted in the gym is shameful — and woefully unproductive. Efficiency is king, particularly when it comes to building a stronger, better-looking physique. This collection of workouts allows you to get in, get pumped fast and get out, all in 15 minutes or less. Greater size, better-muscle quality and no more wasted time are just minutes away — and you get to enjoy the summer outdoors much more.
Start each workout (except the biceps) with a multijoint exercise.
- It’ll provide the greatest overload on the target muscles.
- The exercise can burn more calories. Researchers at Truman State University (Kirksville, Missouri) found that subjects burned 50% more calories on the squat than they did on the leg press.
- The free-weight compound moves require the use of more stabilizers to get through each rep.
- It’s acceptable to use machines for compound exercises. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get more out of your machine moves. You can also safely use more resistance with a machine than a free weight. One study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that lifters were about 4% stronger on the Smith-machine squat and 15% stronger on the Smith-machine bench press than their free-weight counterparts.
- Multijoint moves break down more total muscle fiber, which leads to more muscle mass in the long run.
Supersets for Speed
Supersets require lifters to pair two exercises for the same muscle group and perform them consecutively, sans rest. Supersets save time.
- To up the intensity ante with these workouts, you’ll be performing two exercises in a row for the same bodypart.
- The first exercise stimulates the target muscle for gains in size and strength; the second exercise hits the muscle from a different angle and helps fill it up with blood, a process known as creating the pump.
- In addition to speedier workouts, hitting a muscle from slightly different angles within a single superset allows you to maximize the number of muscle fibers worked.
- Most supersets listed here in the five examples that follow include a multijoint move followed by a single-joint move. This allows you to adequately overload the target muscle group with heavy weight before moving on to a more precise, isolation exercise with proportionately less resistance.
- In the interest of time, get your equipment ready for both exercises before you get started. You take a brief rest period only after you complete both exercises.
Keep in mind that you can also speed things along by using a more strategic selection of exercises.
- The workouts that follow have you occupying as little space as possible in the gym, while still getting your sweat on, full blast.
- Each of the six routines (for each of the major muscle groups) allows you to train to build size and strength, allowing for rest periods so that the muscle group can recover. While they cut down on the volume, they don’t cut down on the results. It being summer, we’re sure there are other outdoor activities you’d rather be doing.
Build Your Own Superspeed Workouts
Here are six suggestions for 15-minute workouts that cover the major body-parts: legs, chest, shoulders, back, biceps, triceps:
First Move: For your first exercise in each of these superfast workouts, you do three sets of a multijoint free-weight or machine movement (for muscle groups except arms) in which you reach muscle failure between 8–10 reps. Rest 1–2 minutes between sets.
Remaining Moves: After the first exercise, a multijoint move done in straight sets fashion, you’ll pair two moves done in superset fashion. The first movement in the superset is typically another multijoint exercise, followed immediately by a single-joint movement (for slightly higher reps). You rest 60–90 seconds only after you’ve completed both moves.
And If You Have Extra Time: While you can get in and out of the gym in just 15 minutes, you can also combine 15-minute blocks and do multiple bodyparts in a slightly longer, more comprehensive workout.
You’ll do two presses (from different angles), starting off with the upper pecs, which are commonly undertrained because most chest workouts start off with flat-bench presses. The superset combo is a press and flye using the flat bench; all you need are both sets of dumbbells at the foot of the bench.
Machine Incline Press
Flat-Bench Dumbbell Press
Flat-Bench Dumbbell Flye
Tip: With your pressing movement, drive through the concentric phase forcefully.