Why You Should Include Supersets in Your Routine

superset-blog

BUT FIRST… WHAT ARE THEY?

AboutSports.com defines a superset as “a combination of one exercise performed right after the other with no rest in between them.”

You’ll hear the term thrown around a lot by gym rats and fitness junkies trying to pump as much blood to their muscles as possible. But the truth is, they are a valuable asset to any fitness plan!

Supersets are amazing for gaining muscularity and building base strength. You can use them to vary your muscle movements or to hyper-target a particular muscle or muscle group.

If you really want to define and tone your body, supersets will get you there in half the time. Especially when combined with interval cardio training for optimal body fat loss.

5 TYPES OF SUPERSETS

1. Pre-Exhaustion

The most popular (and some say the most effective) type of superset is a pre-exhaustion. This is when you perform an isolation exercise on a particular muscle and then switch to a compound exercise for that same muscle.

The purpose of these is to exhaust the muscle being worked as quickly as possible, so that when it comes time to do the compound exercise, you have to engage more surrounding muscle fibers to push through the reps. These build stability and help stretch surrounding fascia tissue for muscle growth.

2. Compound Supersets

Compound supersets are of the same breed as pre-exhaustion, however both exercises are compound movements on the same muscle or muscle group. The benefit of these is crazy muscle growth.

They can be dangerous though, the more you shock your nervous system, the sloppier your form will get and sloppy form can lead to injuries. Koko intentionally leaves these types of supersets out of their workout plans to reduce injury risk.

3. Isolated Supersets

These are also in the same family as pre-exhaustion and compound supersets. Im sure you can guess how these are performed…

Two isolating exercises are performed back to back. The most common example would be a tricep pushdown coupled with kickbacks. These types of exercises will define the heck out of your muscles. Huge drawbacks however are the small gain in mass and minimal strength increase.

Strength and weight control are more important than ‘show’ muscles. These supersets are typically used by body-builders pre-contest to help cut out their shape and not necessarily for an overall health boost.

4. Opposing Muscle Group Supersets

Koko incorporates 2 forms of supersets into its programs. The first of which are opposing muscle group supersets. These supersets are one part isolation or compound exercise and second part isolation or compound exercise of the direct opposite muscle or muscle group.

Here is an example… You do 8 controlled reps of bicep cable curls (isolation) and then do 8 reps of a tricep pushdown with minimal resting time. According to Bodybuilding.com:

“[These exercises are] extremely effective because while one muscle is working, the other is resting. Since this type of superset allows your muscle to rest for a short period, it will allow you to build strength, as well as size.”

It also keeps the blood pumping in the same area of your body throughout the duration of the set. Strength gains for days!

5. Staggered Sets Supersets

Try saying that 5 times fast… These are when you combine a movement with a major muscle with a smaller and completely unrelated muscle.

A good example of this is to go from seated rows that work all of your back muscles and biceps to weighted calf raises.

The biggest benefit of these is that it is essentially a get-rich-quick scheme to bringing your underdeveloped muscles up to par with the rest of your body.

Someone who has not gone to the gym in a while most likely has disproportionate muscle strengths. Mixing in staggered supersets allows your smaller, undeveloped muscles to catch up to the ones you truly wish to focus on. Koko uses these sets to keep your muscles guessing. Shocking your system like this is a gateway to total body development, overall strength gain, and peak physical health.

SO… WHY SHOULD YOU BE DOING THESE?

There are benefits to each type of superset. However, they all share 3 common advantages. These advantages are also some of the key elements to a Koko workout and what gives our Koko system the ability to fit into your daily life.

First things first, making a workout out of supersets and circuits will help you finish your workout in a fraction of the time of other gym goers. The reason for this is simply because you are performing your workouts back to back and not resting 1-2 minutes in between. The time cut doesn’t sound like a lot, but adding it all up can knock a half hour off your gym time easy.

Performing your exercises back to back does more than shorten your gym time. It keeps your heart rate elevated for the duration of the workout. This means you’ll burn fat faster than a your typical ‘exercise, rest, repeat’ routine.

That elevated heart rate – when sustained throughout your workout – also provides aspike in your metabolism to keep you burning more calories all day long.

The bottom line is, supersets are an important thing to consider when developing workout plans. Some will help build strength, some will help you burn fat, and some will just simply make you look good! However, all will help you achieve proper body development.

Start with light weights first in order to assess your ability to perform these supersets. You can always find great coach as well. A Coach can show you how to perform these safely and include these in your routine the right way to achieve the goals you’re striving for.

Stay Koko Fit!

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub, LLC

Interested in Koko?
Try 30 days of complete fitness and coaching for just $30.


GET 30 DAYS OF FITNESS FOR $30

How To Train For A Mud Run

mudrun blog

Ahh the glorious mud run. 

A community event where fitness lovers and adventurers come together to run miles through a series of exhausting, fun, and sometimes scary obstacles. They even throw in tons of free mud to frolic in along the way!

Mud Runs have become increasingly popular among all age groups. The intrinsic value received from completing such a physically demanding task is unmatched. It’s simply the ultimate way to test yourself, challenge yourself, and try to better yourself.

75% of a mud run is preparation. Here is our take on basic conditioning for yours.

CARDIO

The thing about a mud run is that… well… it’s a race. The number one thing to start conditioning for is the large amount of running you will be enduring. Typically the races are around 3-5 miles, but some go as far as 10 miles.

Cardio training to improve endurance is big. Now, you don’t have to be a marathon runner, but you should be able to hoof it on the treadmill for at least 3 miles without hyperventilating.

The good part about mud runs is that you can go at your own pace. So find your pace and base your training around that.

Make sure to switch up the settings to vary your movement patterns. You need to be able to adapt to hills, rough terrain, mud, concrete and gravel while running. Koko‘s cardio programs vary your workouts through intervals, varying speeds, and adjusting incline. You want well-rounded conditioning so you can tackle various terrains.

DIVERSE MOVEMENTS AND DYNAMIC EXERCISES

Mud runs are not a strength contest. The point is to test your abilities on all types of physical obstacles. Climbing, running, crawling, jumping, swinging, and swimming are all  movements that require total body development. And these are the types of movements you’ll be doing, not pushing 200lbs on a bench.

Circuit training is your best friend. It’s perfect for full development and to really get your heart rate up.

It also helps your body adapt to various weight distributions as well as conditions it to switching quickly between different movements. That’s why Koko makes up almost all of its custom workouts through circuits and controlled reps. Koko X specifically focuses onfree, natural movements. Precisely like the ones needed to complete a mud run.

DON’T GO IT ALONE

Mud runs are meant to be done with a team. They are your support and backbone through the whole thing. When you think you’re about to quit and can’t push on anymore, your team will be there to tell you – “you got this!”

Train with your team and your community. Whether it is to be fitter, healthier, to raise endurance, or to build strength, reaching for a goal together will be the motivation and support you need. 

Train together, finish together. 

Don’t worry – mud runs come in all shapes and sizes, as well as varying levels of difficulties. It is up to you to judge which ones are a proper fit.

Find the one you like, assess the time you have until the race, and develop a workout plan to reach the goals necessary to complete the race with flying colors.

Work on the things you know you need to work on.

The biggest obstacle is your own brain. Don’t let the idea of a mud run freak you out. Get excited, get pumped, and train as best you can. Remember, these runs are not pitting people against each other. They are here for fun, to test your limits, and to do it alongside others so at the end you can all say “We did this!”

Last but not least – don’t underestimate yourself. You and your body are capable of amazing things. Go out there, crush your mud run, and exceed your own expectations.

Stay Koko Fit!

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub, LLC

Interested in Koko?
Try 30 days of complete fitness and coaching for just $30.


GET 30 DAYS OF FITNESS FOR $30

Reasons to Never Skip Leg Day

neverskiplegday copy

Man, I hate leg day!

If I had a nickel for every time I saw this statement posted on Facebook or spoken aloud. I’d be filthy, filthy rich.

So why should you include legs? Here are a few reasons for you because friends don’t let friends skip leg day!

TOTAL BODY DEVELOPMENT

Have you ever seen the gym ‘lunk’ who can bench press a mid-sized sedan, but his legs can be used to clean in-between teeth?

Reason number one to never skip legs is you’ll look like Johnny Bravo from Cartoon Network.

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While you may be focusing more on your “show muscles” like core, arms, and chest, keep in mind your legs are the source of all your power. Stability, balance, endurance, and range of motion are all dependent on legs.

Where do soccer players get the energy to sprint for the ball? Where do baseball players get their power behind their swing?

Simple tasks such as lifting boxes, climbing stairs, or moving furniture are all accomplished through leg strength.

The only way to properly succeed in your fitness journey is to shoot for total body development. “Show muscles” look good, but working in the legs is a sure way to feel better and live healthier. According to bodybuilding.com

“…all of us need good leg development for a complete body, no matter who you are. Aside from looking good, well developed legs will help you in just about any sport since they are an integral source of power. I mean, if you don’t have decent leg development it makes you look like you are too lazy to put in the work for legs.” – Joe Corleone

If you can’t fit a solid leg day into your routine, then sprinkle leg exercises into your circuit training routines. Every day is leg day. That’s why Koko includes leg presses, leg lifts, and squats into your programs. We believe in well-rounded fitness and overall body development.

BIG MUSCLES NEED BIG ATTENTION

Your legs are comprised of 3 major muscles: hamstrings, quadriceps, and gluteus maximus. They are some of the biggest muscles in your body. They need to be big to endure the constant muscle strain that comes with basic daily movements.

Think about all the times you call upon your legs during the day: walking from place to place, up and down stairs, driving, lifting groceries, getting out of bed, and more.

Now ask yourself, why wouldn’t you want to improve the muscles that make all of this possible?

Gym-goers – on average – do not realize the benefits of building leg muscles. Or they just don’t want to waste the time they could otherwise spend curling or bench pressing.

Because we use our legs so much they are outfitted with a higher proportion of endurance muscle fibers than the chest or biceps. Therefore, in laymen’s terms, your big muscles need the most attention when working out.

Ignoring these muscles causes decreased endurance, lower stability, slow reflexes, and actually reduces the amount of hormones released during your workouts!

You need to treat your legs as you treat your chest or arms: hit ‘em hard and hit ‘em often.

INCREASE CORE STRENGTH AND MUSCLE GROWTH 

Legs not only help you stabilize and lift even more weight, they help define the rest of your body (especially your core).

If you’re struggling to chisel out that 6 pack with countless sit-ups, planks, and Russian twists… Stop and squat.

When you tighten your core muscles to stabilize during a squat, you’re building definition and exhausting your leg muscles at the same time. If you remember from the stretching article, the best path to muscle growth is to exhaust it to where is stretches out your muscle fascia.

Exercises that focus on your quads, hammies, and butt typically involve full body control and deliberate movements. Achieving these movements is only possible by engaging the rest of your body, specifically your abdominals and obliques. So rack up the heavy weights and push your body. The more legs you do, the better your abs will look, which is another reason why they fit so well with circuit routines.

Long story short, if you want to improve your body tone, overall endurance and strength, then you need to include legs in your routine.

Whether you set aside one day a week or if you follow our recommendation and fit them into your circuits or HIIT…Never skip leg day.

Stay Koko Fit

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub, LLC

Interested in Koko?
Try 30 days of complete fitness and coaching for just $30.


GET 30 DAYS OF FITNESS FOR $30

About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer

Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.

3 Reasons You Should Dynamically Stretch

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Can you touch your toes?

Most American’s have limited flexibility. In fact, according to a study published in Daily Mail, 53% of the population can’t touch their toes.

So why does this matter?

Stretching not only unlocks a myriad of health benefits, but loosens up your body and can keep you feeling fresh. There are different ways of stretching however!

Koko recognizes the benefits of warming up with dynamic stretching over static stretching (pushing your muscle to it’s limit in a stable position). Dynamic means you’re moving as you stretch. The benefits of this style over static stretching include warming up the actual muscles you’ll be using in your workout, better body awareness, and increased muscle performance. Here are 3 reasons you should stretch dynamically.

FLEXIBILITY AND MUSCLE CONTROL

Flexibility keeps you loose and gives you a wider range of motion. There are too many times when a client will attempt a new workout and cannot complete the motion due to their limited flexibility.

If you’re struggling to bend down and tie your shoes, but you can curl 60 pound dumbbells, you need to spend more time warming up!

Having good flexibility and a solid range of motion allows you to incorporate more workouts and variations into your routines. Your muscles will be ready for circuit training when you switch quickly between different exercises.

You will also have far more control over your muscles and stability of your reps, which allows you to extend and contract the appropriate muscles more efficiently.

AVOID INJURY 

Have you ever been hurt playing sports and the coach’s first response is “You should have stretched”?

It is common for athletes to stretch dynamically before and after exercise in order to reduce risk of injury and increase performance. Stretching improves your muscle’s elastic abilities.

We all know that pumped feeling doesn’t last, the blood and lactic acids leave your muscles eventually. However, because you don’t stretch the muscle out, it stays in a semi-contracted state for far too long. Over time, this actually decreases the range of motion your muscle can perform. Maybe not at first, but multiply that semi-contracted state by a year of workouts, and your looking at tight connective tissue that could cause issues.

Stretch it out.

MUSCLE GROWTH

Fitness junkies and weight lifters will berate the need for stretching until the cows come home. They hate stretching because they claim it decreases the ‘pump.’

What if I said stretching actually increased muscle growth?

Your fascia is connective tissue that encloses your muscles and run along your skeletal system. Building muscle over time pushes them to where they “become compressed along the fascia” according to BodyBuilding.com. When this happens, further muscle growth is hindered by the limited expansion of your fascia.

The only way to target and expand your fascia is… you guessed it: Stretching, this includes foam rolling. Stretching also increases blood flow to your muscles, increasing the ‘pumped’ feeling and helping your muscles recover more quickly from your workouts. It loosens up the fascia and creates more ‘room’ for your muscle to expand.

The bottom line is, optimal muscle growth is only achievable through routine stretching and taking care of your muscles.

As a sidetone, stretching has just as many mental and spiritual benefits as well as physical. It’s the reason pilates has become such a popular craze, and why yoga is associated with meditation, bodily wellness, and physical fitness. It’s not only good for your body, its good for your mind, and it’s good for stress.

Next time you head to the gym, make sure you stretch.

Stay Koko Strong!

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub, LLC

Interested in Koko?
Try 30 days of complete fitness and coaching for just $30.


GET 30 DAYS OF FITNESS FOR $30

 

About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer

Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.

‘Abs Are Made In the Kitchen’

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You’re sitting at work and your hunger is eating away at you. Your mind wanders to the thought of a fat sandwich from the deli down on the corner.  It’s fine, you tell yourself, because you’re going to the gym later and you’ll burn off those calories.

You know this isn’t the best rationale, but Summer is still weeks and weeks away, what can one sandwich hurt?

A lot.

Chances are, that sandwich is just one piece of an unhealthy diet. And, unfortunately, you can’t out-exercise a terrible diet. An individual with an average weight of 150 lbs will need to run at least 5 miles to burn off a typical fast food burger.  And let’s be honest, while we may be hitting the gym, most of us are not up for running 5 miles on the treadmill before busting out a 40-minute strength workout.

If you seem to be increasing definition everywhere on your body but your abs just don’t seem to want to come out and play, then that means you’re putting in work at the gym, but your eating habits are not up to par.

 

DON’T GO ON A “DIET” – EAT CLEAN

When we need to lose weight, the initial thought is “I should go on a diet.” However, many rapid weight loss “fad diets”  involve  strict food restrictions with an aggressive calorie cut. Yes, you may lose weight with these “diets”, but that weight will be a combination of fat AND muscle. This unhealthy drop in weight is unsustainable — most people put the weight right back on — and they can lead to all kinds of health issues in the process.

Clean eating is a way of eating that focuses more on a sustainable lifestyle than a “get results quick” approach. At Koko, we believe that eating clean reduces fat content with a healthy and filling nutritional plan that fills your body with essential vitamins and minerals. Eating healthy, whole foods, is the healthier option for lasting effects.

And it’s easy to do.

Simply eat a variety of whole, natural foods that are free from artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. Avoid all prepared foods, fast foods, and convenience foods, or, simply, anything in a package. When you eat natural foods that are free from chemicals and additives, you can eat more of them, which fills you up and reduces cravings for junk food and snacks. Simple foods can be eaten in excess without negative weight-related consequences.

Here is a solid macro-nutrient chart to get you started. This includes cholesterol-lowering, unsaturated Fats, lean cuts of Protein for building and repairing muscle,  Complex Carbohydrates designed to digest slowly to prevent blood sugar spikes, and finally, the nutrient-rich Vegetables for the right mix of macro- and micro-nutrients.

You can mix and match these foods throughout your day to get the energy and fuel you need for better results from your workout.

HYDRATION IS KEY

If healthy food is the ab builder, water is the ab maintainer. They go hand in hand. Waterincreases your overall metabolism by 30% and flushes out toxins, but only if you drink 2-3 liters a day!

Another metabolic assistant is green tea, which contains epigallocatechin gallate (try saying that 5 times fast), or EGCG – a natural chemical that increases fat burning. Green tea will detox the heck out of your body and make you feel good as new.
So, remember, abs are made in the kitchen, not only in the gym. You can build up your ab muscles as much as you want, but if your diet does not compliment your regiment you’ll never have that chiseled definition you seek.

The saying is true:  you are, in fact, what you eat.

Stay Koko Strong!

Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub, LLC

 

Interested in Koko?
Try 30 days of complete fitness and coaching for just $30.


GET 30 DAYS OF FITNESS FOR $30

 

About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer

Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.