How to Superset Exercises for Better Results at Every Age: episode 33

This Flipping 50 TV episode is all about how to optimize strength training exercise for both time and results. If you have a limiter like a back issue or a knee joint problem to consider, in addition to hormones, this episode is for you!

Today’s question comes from Debby who is 61. She wrote, “I would like help creating superset exercises for my daily exercise. I really want muscle definition, I’ve heard after 60, that can’t be done. I don’t accept that.”

To that I say, Amen!  Stop listening to voices that suggest you’re limited by your age!

Let’s talk about the facts, as opposed to the old age and expectation fallacies.

Facts about Muscle Definition
  • Muscle definition comes from reaching fatigue during exercise- enough to cause the muscle to change from the stress- the calculated stress we put on it.
  • Muscle definition requires adequate protein (and calories overall).
  • Muscle definition requires sleep.

[If you’re doing all of the above consistently and not seeing results, your hormones may still be partially to blame. Check with a Flipping 50 specialist about testing your hormone levels.]

Let’s workout! I’ve created superset exercises for Debby (and you!) This is one of my favorite ways to strength train for several reasons:

  1. It’s efficient: it takes less time and you’re never going to stand around and wait
  2. It’s effective (studies suggest it burns 33% more energy than other weight training protocols: that said, it’s not the only way to get results, you’ve got to mix it up)
  3. You can keep track of your exercises easier (randomly moving exercise to exercise you forget where you are and you’re more likely to leave something out!)

Muscles in Minutes

Debby’s doing strength training 4-5 days a week. If you’re doing that, you’re either not recovering between workouts or you’re doing a split routine- that is arms one day, legs the next.

FLIP: for metabolism – women over 50 want to do full body workouts with an emphasis on reaching fatigue in each major muscle group. That is not the same as getting tired during exercise. In fact, you should feel good after exercise. Exhaustion is a sign that what you’re doing is not a good match.

A split routine is not as helpful in boosting your metabolism unless you have hours to spend in the gym daily. You want to do two (or three if you can easily fit three in a week) high quality strength trainings.

Eat More, Exercise Less (as long as it’s with purpose)

Use the following as your guide for the right number of repetitions for you:

  • Heavy – reach fatigue at 10 or fewer reps. You’ve been weight training regularly and want to increase the weight for better results. You’re more advanced and know your limits.
  • Moderate weight – reach fatigue at 10-12 reps
  • Light weight – reach fatigue at 15-20 reps. You’re just beginning or you have a condition or prior injury that requires TLC.
  • Super light weight – you may not reach true fatigue but have joint issues or a condition that deems it necessary to reduce the load on joints – 20-25 repetitions

Adjusting Superset Exercises to Fit Your Needs

To workout safely, sanely, and wisely when you have a finicky back and knee joint concerns, you want to make some exercise modifications. That doesn’t mean you can’t get amazing results.

I’m flipping squats and lunges out for bridging, hamstring curls, and wall sits.

My newest exercise series 5-day knee-friendly series will help you at home too. [Get access to the first video right away to make sure it’s a good fit for you!]

superset exercises

Start with a slightly higher number of reps (which means lighter weight), but vary the routine so you’re using power (speed on the lift portion) one week, going slow the next, and using heavier weights and fewer reps another. One of the biggest mistakes we make is settling into the same routine and doing it over and over again. The human body has an amazing potential to adapt so we’ve got to continue changing it up.

There are a lot of ways to superset. I would suggest doing one routine for a week and then another the following week. It’s all about change – planned change – so that you can change. In the video, as well as below, I demonstrate superset exercises that work opposing muscle groups.

Superset Exercises for the Upper Body:

Super Set A

  • Bent over row + Chest press
  • Triceps Press + Biceps curls

Super Set B

  • Bent over row + bicep curls
  • Chest Press + triceps press

Options for these Superset Exercises:

  • Stop after one set of either set A or B (first time)
  • Perform one set of all 4 pairs (A and B)
  • Repeat set A or B two or three times
  • Repeat the entire sequence 2 or 3 times total

You have dozens of ways to challenge your body now and progress.

If you have back issues that can crop up unexpectedly, sit dow to perform your bent over rows.

Regardless of which upper body sequence you choose, next include [on the same day] a lower body exercise.

Lower Body Super Set:

  • Hip bridge + wall sits
  • Hamstring curls + side steps with a band

The key to remember is that at the end of every set you should reach fatigue.

What’s on the end of your fork or spoon matters, too, so be sure you’re eating habits compliment your exercise training. After 50, that’s more important than ever so you can maintain, and gain, lean muscle tissue and ultimately metabolism.

Minute Made Meals

It’s important to dial in your nutrition. Never fear, it can be delicious and satisfying; your days of deprivation are gone. In fact, more of my clients experienced a lack of progress or a plateau before they began working with me from eating too little, rather than too much.

Debby is doing so well eating protein at each meal, but let’s get specific regarding protein needs, especially for women over fifty.  Research shows protein levels at breakfast (at least 20-30 grams, and preferably 30) increase lean muscle maintenance. 

There’s another sneaky reason why you may not be seeing results, even if your workouts are right on target. Sometimes inflammation caused by foods that don’t necessarily “bother” you can mask those pretty muscles. In Debby’s case that may be true.

A few flips for Debby:

  • Flip dairy products for other options – goat cheese, coconut cream or almond milk, cashew-gurt or coconut yogurt help you dump dairy (and inflammation) without sacrifice.
  • Flip animal crackers to an unprocessed snack featuring protein and fat. I love a chocolate & nut butter smoothie for cravings! Nuts, seeds, or veggies with hummus are other good ideas, IF you’re snacking. I don’t recommend it if weight loss is a goal.

28 Day Kickstart

The Key Flip of the Day:

Reach muscular fatigue in each major muscle group during full body workouts in order to boost metabolism optimally and thus enhance tone and definition.

Other episodes and resources you might like: 

Prevent Back Pain 

Muscle Loss Prevention

Lift More, Lose More

The 28 Day Kickstart

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Circumference outside of both arms, at the armpit

Right Triceps
Halfway btwn shoulder & elbow, arm extended.

Find the widest point of girth at the hips

Right Thigh
Standing with weight on both legs, measure halfway between knee cap and hip flexor

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Standing with weight on both legs, find the largest point of calf.

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