I love pairings, by pairings I mean placing two or more lifts in consecutive order with either a shorter rest period in between each lift or one long rest period at the end of all the lifts. I think most people refer to this as supersetting, but I prefer using the term pairing just because I feel supersetting sometimes limits creativity to just two lifts at a time. When it may be appropriate at times to pair three or more exercises together. Anyways I use pairings in every single program I write including my own. But why are pairings so great? Let me provide an example

Say your performing the bench press. Your routine might look like the following.

20s set/80s rest

20s set/80s rest

20s set/80s rest

20s/80s rest

20s set

This five set routine on the bench press would take you a total amount of time of 7 minutes. But if you were to pair the same bench press routine with a pulling movement, such as that follows.

20s set press/40s rest

20s set pull/40s rest

20s set press/40s rest

20s set pull/40s rest

20s set press/40s rest

20s set pull/40s rest

20s set press/40s rest

20s set pull/40s rest

20s set press/40s rest

20s set pull

This pairing will take you a total amount of time of 9.5 minutes. Which is about a 27% increase in time spent training, but you have effectively doubled the amount of work you performed compared to the non-paired example. Looking at it this way it is not hard to see that pairings are efficiency boosters. I mean who doesn't want to get more done and in less time.

Now I may be making an incorrect assumption, but I bet that the above information is not quite earth shattering. Supersets have been around for a long time, the concept is far from new, but what I think is lacking is the know how of what to pair together.

So I'd like to share with you my favorite pairings that I use on a regular basis.

1. Front Squat and Vertical Pull Pairing

This is a perfect pairing because the two lifts prime movers do not directly compete too much. This is due to the lack of stabilization provided by the lats during the front squat compared to the back squat. This allows us to perform a vertical pull without worrying about the lats being fatigued.

2. The Pairing From Hell

This pairing is horribly awesome and will anyone doubting whether they want to do it again. The pairing is done using the bench press and a farmer's carry variation. On the bench press you use a cluster set protocol (if you don't know what cluster sets are read more here) after finishing the cluster set you then proceed to perform the selected carry variation for the predetermined distance. This is awful. I absolutely excitedly dread this pairing.

3. Push and Pull Pairing

This is the simplest pairing. Its the age old concept of antagonist versus antagonist. Easiest pairing in this category would be a vertical pull with a vertical push or a horizontal push with a horizontal pull. If you are feeling a bit creative you can also pair opposite planes along with antagonist movements for example a vertical pull with a horizontal push. The possibilities here are pretty endless.

Supersets are efficient. They increase work capacity and can be great additions to anyone's training program. But remember you do not have to pair everything. There are times when it is a appropriate to perform straight sets.

START PAIRING TODAY!

If you have your own favorite pairings please share them below in a comment.