Want to mix things up at the gym this week? Try a lower body superset workout! This challenging strength training workout is ideal for anyone looking to improve muscular endurance in the legs, hips, and glutes. You’ll find four pairs of exercises that make for an effective weight lifting session.
Why strength training?
As I mentioned in the upper body superset workout post, I’ll veer towards cardio over strength training any day if I’m given the chance. There’s something about a long run that quells anxiety and makes me feel great.
Strength training just doesn’t have the same effect for me, but that’s OK. Just because I don’t personally enjoy it as much doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be incorporating it more into my routine – and that’s what I’m working on over here!
Why? Strength training…
- Improves muscular strength (which as a runner/triathlete is important for my stride, my cycling efficiency, my swim stroke, and more)
- Improves resting metabolic rate
- Helps create a more toned body appearance (if you’re into that – not necessarily a concern of mine but I know some people care about this!)
- Keeps the body functional longer as we age
If you’re like me and you know you should include more strength training – but maybe you haven’t been doing it as much as you’d like – grab this lower body superset workout plan and give it a shot!
What is a superset workout?
A superset workout involves pairs of strength training exercises where you quickly move from one exercise to the next. The pairs typically work opposing muscle groups – like your quads and hamstrings, for example. And you have little to no rest period when you transition from the first exercise to the second exercise.
In addition to efficiently working opposing muscle groups, supersets also put an emphasis on stamina and muscular endurance. Without a large break between exercises, it challenges the body in a new way.
Who should use this lower body superset workout?
*Disclaimer: I am not a physician; check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise program.
This workout is great for fitness-focused peeps who are looking for efficient, effective strength training to add to their routine. You could consider using this if…
- You’re a runner or triathlete that wants to start incorporating strength training in your routine to help maximize your running stride and the pedaling stroke while cycling. If road races or tris are your focus, you can mix in an upper body superset once a week and a lower body superset once a week to help build and maintain strength while still leaving enough time for all your other endurance training.
- You’re a regular gym goer and are looking for a new lower body workout to mix into your routine.
- You’re looking to start strength training at the gym and want a good lower body plan to use. If that’s you, be sure to read the modifications for beginners down towards the bottom!
Your warm up
Don’t just walk into the gym and immediately start this lower body superset workout. You want to properly warm your body up first. Warm ups help gradually increase your body’s core temperature, activate neuromuscular signals, and mobilize the joints in a way that helps prepare your body for the upcoming harder tasks.
There’s controversy in the weight world about what the “best” type of workout is before strength training. This includes whether to include any kind of generic cardio before a strength workout, but I personally like to do so.
So for me, a warm up before a lower body workout might include a few minutes of jumping jacks or jump ropes, a few dynamic movements like squats and walking knee pulls to the chest, and then a couple weight-based exercises in my workout around 60% of the weight I’m planning to use. The later just helps get the nerves firing for the specific form and movements you’re about to make.
Lower body superset workout
Now that you are all warmed up, it’s time to start the actual workout. This lower body superset workout contains 4 pairs of exercises (8 exercises total). You’ll alternate between the first and second exercise in the pair until your sets are complete before moving on to the next pair.
1. Barbell Back Squat
12-15 reps or for 1min.
Weights on heels, knees aligned with toes
2. Physioball Leg Curl
12-15 reps or for 1 min.
Place ball under heels, pull ball in with hips in the air
3. Machine Leg Extension
12-15 reps or for 1min.
Keep butt in seat with good posture, pause 1sec. on top
4. Machine Leg Curl
12-15 reps or for 1min.
Neutral spine, curl heels to butt without overarching low back
5. Romanian Deadlift
Start with bar or weight in your hands; slowly lower the weight bending at the hips and keeping back straight
6. Dumbbell Step-ups
12-15 reps or for 1min.
Step to a bench (16-20″ or smaller aerobics-style step if you cannot do this size), full foot on bench.
7. Cable Hip Adduction
12-15 reps per side
Controlled sweeping movement
8. Monster Walks with a Theraband
20-30 seconds in each direction
*may need additional rest time and/or stick to two sets for this pair, due focused work on both sides
Recommendations and Modifications:
When it comes to how to structure this workout, there are different modifications depending on your fitness level and goals:
Number of Exercises: Beginners may want to choose 2-3 pairs of exercises; intermediate and advanced gym goers can focus on 3-4 pairs depending on their goals and routine.
Sets: Beginners can focus on 2 sets; intermediate and advanced gym goers should do 3 sets (except for Pair D where 2 sets might be more appropriate due to the structured work on each side).
Rest time: This can vary based on your fitness level and workout goals. If you’re goal is really focused on muscular strength, you might allow for a longer rest interval between each set within a pair – around 2-3 minutes. If your goal is focused on muscular endurance and a condensed workout time, you might only include 30-60 seconds in between. In addition, if you are a beginner, or if you find your form stays better with more rest, you might also weave in staggered rest time to your supersets.
Here’s what each of these might look like for the first pair of exercises:
- Strength focus: Barbell Squat –> Physioball Leg Curl –> 2 minutes rest –> repeat
- Endurance focus: Barbell Squat –> Physioball Leg Curl –> 30-60 seconds rest –> repeat
- Beginner / Staggered Rest: Barbell Squat –> 30-60 seconds rest –> Physioball Leg Curl –> 30-60 seconds rest –> repeat
Optional core circuit
Many athletes who are training for road races or triathlons may be doing strength training twice a week – one upper body session and one lower body session. If that’s the case, it’s also wise to add in a core circuit as part of this workout.
Now if you’re strength training more regularly and that’s your primary focus, you may have additional focus days on core work, in which case you may not need to incorporate it into this workout. It really depends on your overall schedule.
If you do want to work in a core circuit at the end of your workout, here’s a quick and easy one:
- 20 Prone Alt. Swimmers
- 20 Prone Supermans
- 1 min Hollow Rock Hold
- Rest 1 min
- Repeat for 3 total rounds
There you have it! I hope you enjoy this lower body superset workout. You’ve got the visual version of the main workout below so you can print it out or pin it for later. If you get a chance to give it a try, be sure to leave a comment below.
Note: Portions of certain supersets and the core circuit were produced in partnership with Nick Normandin, owner of Push Pull Training and the head coach at CrossFit EXP. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise and Sports Science, and is a CrossFit Level 3 Trainer with many specialty certifications. If you’d like to reach out to Nick for coaching or training, you can contact him at [email protected]