Killer ‘Push and Pull’ Superset Workout

By Nicky HollandFitness Manager at Fitness First Motor City

If you think of all the different exercises you can do, many of them involve pushing and pulling. This article will give a series of exercises based on the push and pull movement, which will work the front and back of the body.

Supersetting is a great way to load the muscle whilst keeping the intensity of the workout high. This doesn’t mean the resistance has to be high, as the resistance can be tailored to suit your individual goal and needs.

What are the benefits?

Well, performing a super set with two exercises will burn more calories than if you did the same exercises one after another. It will improve your cardiovascular endurance and fitness at a faster rate by challenging the body to work at a higher heart rate. It will allow you to finish your workout in less time because instead of resting between sets you are working a different muscle group and that will get you results in a faster time.

Below are four push and pull supersets which you can try:

  • Dumbell Chest Press vs Dumbbell Back Row

For this superset, try to select the same weight in dumbbells for both exercises. The chest press involves lying on your back with a dumbbell in each hand. Here you need to press both dumbbells at the same time up to the ceiling so they touch in the middle then control them back down. You should feel the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid and triceps working and remember to squeeze the chest at the top of the movement. Complete 10 reps then go into the second exercise.

Dumbell back row1 Dumbell back row2

From a kneeling position on the bench, pick up one dumbbell. Start with your arm straight and then row the dumbbell up to you chest by pinching the shoulder blades back. Keep your back flat and shoulders parallel to the floor. You should feel this working the latissimus dorsi, rear deltoid and bicep. Once you have done 10 reps on one side, repeat on the other side. This is one set. Repeat this again for a total of three sets.

Dumbell chest press1 Dumbell chest press2

  • Push-Up On Handles vs Narrow Back Pulley

Normal push-ups are a good body weight exercise, but when performed using the handles, this adds more pressure to the chest. It also enables you to get lower and deeper into the movement. Place both handles on the ground, normal distance apart as if you were doing a regular push-up. Keeping the speed of the movement controlled, lower your chest to the floor until your chest is in line with the top of the handles, and then back up again. Aim for 10 reps.

Narrow back pulley2 Narrow back pulley1

Then go into the second exercise. Sit on the pulley machine with your hands on the narrow triangular grip. Select a weight which you can lift for 10 reps. Keep the back straight and retract the shoulder blades then row, bringing the handle into your ribs. Perform 10 reps then go back into the push ups exercises. Try to complete three sets.

Push up on handles2

Push up on handles1

  • Barbell Bench Press vs Barbell Dead Row

The most common chest exercise is probably the bench press, which is a solid exercise for working the chest. You can use a Smith Machine or a free weight Olympic bar (which weighs 20kg) then add the weight each side to a load which you can lift for 10 reps. Take your hands slightly wider than shoulders and bring the bar from arms extended, down to your chest and back up again. Focus on bringing the bar down straight and to the centre of your chest working the pectoralis major.

Barbell bench press1 Barbell bench press2

The second exercise is a dead row. Pick up a bar overhand grip. Stand with feet hip-distance apart and with a slight bend in the knee. Tip forward from the hips and keep the back straight then row the bar into the belly. To help keep your back straight and avoid slouching, let your eyes gaze one metre in front. Focus on bringing the elbows high and wide then pinch between the shoulder blades to work the rhomboids of the upper back. Perform 10 reps and then go back into the first exercise. Do this for a total of three sets.

Barbell dead row2

Barbell dead row1

  • Narrow Handed Push-Ups vs Underhand Grip Pull-Ups

The last superset is narrow handed push-ups. This works both the triceps and the chest. The narrower your hands, the more difficult the exercise. Place both hands under your chest in a diamond position. From here, lower your chest down to the floor and try to keep your elbows in narrow, and then push yourself back to the top. Try to do 10 reps. If it’s too difficult on your toes, you can drop down to your knees or take your hands a little wider.

Narrow handed push ups1 Narrow handed push ups12

The second exercise here is underhand grip pull ups. Again focusing on the narrow grip to emphasise the biceps as well as the back. Grip both handles and pull yourself up until your chin reaches the bar, then lower yourself back down. Aim for 5-10 reps and repeat this super set three times.

Underhand grip pull ups1 Underhand grip pull ups2