Super-Setting to Shapely Sexy Thighs by Tina Jo Orban (ACE and ISSA CFT)
Super-setting is said to be coined by the famed and founding father of commercialized bodybuilding the old master himself, Joe Weider (RIP). What is super-setting?
There is antagonistic muscle super-setting—which will be the focus of this article to enhance blood flow (thus in theory delivering massive oxygen and increasing strength out put) to facilitate high intensity lifting. There is synergistic super-setting such as back and biceps. This could be traps, rhomboids, teres major and or lats performing some pulling action “retraction” then paired with biceps and or hammer curls to target synergistic muscles such as the biceps brachii (brachialis and brachioradialis too). They are synergistic as they are unavoidably used in the in both the pulling action of the back also and the ‘curling’ action of the arm.
We will focus on legs. We will focus on super-setting to build sexy thighs. I don’t know about you but spindly white legs with thigh gaps are not what turns heads! Nor are they healthy pillars to support your trunk, torso and head. While it is true— distribution of the weight of the body is ultimately is transferred to the tibia (the true leg) the quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis) and the “hamstrings” (semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris) and the adductors (brevis, longus, magnus and we can toss in gracilis) are imperative for walking, jumping and riding. You need functional good working thighs. You want sexy shapely thighs. And building them up to be this way can be a snap if you know what exercises to do. (Hey little factoid: Did you know the the gluteus maximus besides being the most powerful hip extensor is an adductor?!)
This article is about pure thigh training. While many people include gluteal training in their “legs-day” workout we wont necessarily here. It is surely hard to avoid gluteals (unless only you do Routine ONE (see below) which isolates muscle groups) since the gluteals are involved in motions that typically incorporate thigh muscles. For example, there is lunging and squatting. These are prime examples of gluteus maximus, quads and hamstring exercises, I would like to focus on building super sexy thighs.
First and foremost, lets recall hypertrophy requires anaerobic style heavy resistance high intensity type of work. That is resistance weight training with a minimum 60% -75% intensity and upwards of 85% intensity. You know what this means right? You should be training at around 75% of your one rep max. Standard calculates at around 8-10 rep range PER SET! That means that your last rep should be very difficult, anaerobic style as in depleting local energy stores (surpassing ATP replenishment cycle). Yes, good old-fashioned body-building.
So let’s talk about your legs. Do you want skinny incapable twigs or bulky fat chaffing thighs that are tough to find jeans for? Do you want legs that require you perpetually live in yoga pants (rhetorical questions)? To which if you did answer— you would say, No! That is why you are reading this far.
On the front of your thigh bone, (femur) are your “quads” and their main function is leg extension. What the heck? Perhaps your thinking only that old seated leg contraption machine that makes you work against resistance while you are sitting on your bum is all you can do! Not true. It is true, this is an excellent machine/exercise for your front thigh i.e., your “quads”. A special point of note when using the leg extension machine, when the knee is turned ot focuses on the vastus lateralis: This is called medial femoral torsion. This can be used to build the lovely outer sweep. And toes out ‘out-toeing’ (lateral femoral torsion) is used to focus on the VMO. That is your inner tear drop muscle near the knee, the vastus medialis. And legs straight out against resistance for all four quads. Now let’s go with intensity at of a minimum of 75%. (I am assuming here most of the readers have been training at least one year and are conditioned.) If you are a beginner, less than a year, you may want to drop your intensity and increase the rep range around 15-20 and cut the number of sets to no more than 10 sets total.
Routine ONE: super-set leg extensions followed by hamstring curls shored up with hip adduction.
It would look like this get ready, take a breath—go!!!
8-10 reps Leg Extensions. Jump off,
8-10 reps Hamstring curls, Jump off,
8-10 reps of hip adduction rest repeat.
Rest time: one and half up to two-minutes for recovery. This is nearly HIIT type training Yet, this is truly size training and strength training. You’ll get the added benefit of a thumping heart which is great for fat metabolism, yet is anaerobic enough so as to call on fast-twitch muscle fibers and increase their diameter. Okay hopefully not getting too technical. Bottom line is super- setting can help you get your work out done quickly and effectively while increasing strength and size. So long as you are at the adequate intensity, rep range and number of sets.
You could do this simple THREE exercise muscle-group-focused machine work out for four to six sets and be done with legs! I would wait at least a couple days before training legs intensely like this again. That’s 12 or 18 sets total. Beginners cut that to a max of ten sets. This means a round of ‘three for three’. Comprende amigo?
If you find stationary machines a yawn. You could super-set (again to build beautiful thighs) with more compound closed-chain type exercises. (Open chain is where the distal segment is free and moving as in the above machine exercises I just suggested. It has to do with kinetics). The closed-chain king for quads is the the squat. The lowering phase hits the both quads and hams in eccentric contraction. While the lifting phase (i.e. straightening the knee into a standing position targets veritably the same muscles in concentric contraction. This is a powerful sexy thigh building exercise! Everybody hypes the squat as the “booty builder.” This is true— as the gluteus maximus primarily resists descending with resistance and extending the femur against resistance returning to standing which of course tones and builds the glute max, yet the entire leg anteriorly and posteriorly is targeted in this powerhouse of a move as well! So what’s left then is adductors. But to get technical the adductor magnus is also an extensor thus also works in concert with hip extensors (hams and glute max in this move). So for an alternate leg day super-setting sexy thigh building routine you could perform at the recommended intensity (75%):
8-10 reps Squats (dumbbells or back “barbell style squat” stop, immediately follow with:
8-10 reps of adduction work on cables.
Then rest one and half or two-minutes for recovery.
Then repeat for a total of six rounds. You’ll have done six sets of thigh toning squats and six sets of adduction work. All done. And you will be done. I would recommend not booking any equestrian activities near Routine TWO.
8-10 reps of lunges. Stop, immediately follow with
8-10 reps of bent knee deadlifts (RDL’s Romanian deadlifts). Stop, immediately follow with
8-10 either cable adduction work or adductor machine work.
To sum up, the goal is to hypertrophy muscular tissue— increasing simultaneously size and strength. This type of training while increasing blood flow to the working muscle really emphasizes this by stressing also a proximal muscle group. In the old days we called it ‘blood pooling’. Sounds horrific, is fantastic. An additional benefit to super-setting is maximizing gym time that is active recovery occurs especially in Routine ONE pairing, while the proximal group is “resting” you are still performing dynamic exercise in a nearby group. Therefore, you are still working out while resting. What a paradox! And now you can superset your way to shapely sexy thighs.