Incorporating supersets into your training plan can be a game changer, promising not only to save you time but to boost the efficiency of your workouts as well.
In today’s spotlight is one of my favorites, the Arnold Press, a variation of the shoulder press named after the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This exercise engages multiple muscles in the upper body, offering a unique challenge for the shoulders. But the magic truly happens when we pair it with other strategic exercises, creating a superset that can take your workout to another level.
Whether you’re an athlete aiming to optimize your training program, or a beginner seeking to revamp your training plan with fresh insights, this guide is for you.
Keys to Creating a Quality Superset
Selecting the right exercises to pair with the Arnold Press in a superset is extremely important to maximize gains and reduce any chance of injury.
Here are the key factors you should consider:
Muscle Group Targeting
Ideally, you would want to choose exercises that target different muscle groups than the Arnold Press to promote a balanced workout.
Since the Arnold Press primarily targets the shoulders and upper chest, exercises focusing on the back, core, or lower body would be great options.
Keep in mind the equipment you have at hand. It would be convenient to choose exercises that utilize similar equipment to the Arnold Press, facilitating a smooth transition between exercises in the superset.
Individual Goals and Needs
Every lifter has unique goals and requirements.
Tailor the exercises to meet individual needs, focusing on areas that need improvement or are essential for their sport.
Recovery and Mobility
Incorporating exercises that promote recovery and mobility can be a good strategy, allowing you to recover quickly and maintain a range of motion, which is vital for performance and injury prevention.
Best Exercises to Superset with Arnold Press
Here they are, in no particular order, my favorite movements to pair with Arnold Press.
Why: Pull-ups work the back muscles, providing a great counterbalance to the Arnold Press which primarily targets the shoulders and chest, promoting balanced upper body development.
- Approach the pull-up bar and grab the bar with a pronated grip (palms facing away).
- Use a bench to get to the bar if it is too high.
- Later in the article, I will talk about variations, alternatives, and modifications where the supinated (palms facing in) grip will be discussed.
- Squeeze the bar and engage the core muscles and do not cross your legs.
- Engage the upper back and pull up until your chin is over the bar.
- Pause for 1 second with your chin over the bar.
- Slowly lower yourself back to the starting position.
Why: Bent Over Rows target the muscles of the back, helping to create a balanced upper body workout that engages opposing muscle groups, fostering stability and strength.
- Start with feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell or dumbbells in front of you with an overhand grip.
- Hinge at the hips, keeping a slight bend in the knees, and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the ground.
- Keep your back flat and neck neutral.
- Pull the weights to your abdomen, keeping your elbows close to your body.
- Pause and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
- Slowly lower the weights back down to the starting position, maintaining control throughout the movement.
Why: Push-ups can further work the chest and triceps, complementing the Arnold Press by creating a robust and well-rounded shoulder and chest training plan.
Coaching Point: This type of superset, where both exercises work similar/same muscle groups is referred to as a compound set.
- Begin in a high plank position with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and feet together.
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels, engaging your core.
- Lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows, going as low as you can while maintaining a neutral spine.
- Push back up to the starting position, fully extending your arms.
- Ensure your hips are not sagging or lifting too high to maintain a straight body line.
Why: Dumbbell Curls will focus on building the biceps, offering a nice contrast to the shoulder-centric Arnold Press and enhancing the symmetry in the upper body.
- Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand, arms fully extended, and palms facing forward.
- Keep the elbows close to the torso and make a curl motion, bringing the weights to your shoulders.
- Only your forearms should move; avoid using your back or shoulders to lift the weights.
- Slowly return to the starting position, controlling the movement downwards.
- Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions, maintaining good form throughout.
Why: Face Pulls work wonders in targeting the rear deltoids and upper back, encouraging balanced shoulder development.
This exercise helps maintain shoulder health by countering the pressing motion of the Arnold Press, supporting improved posture, and reducing the risk of shoulder injuries.
- Set a cable machine to upper chest level and attach a rope handle.
- Grab the rope with an overhand grip and step back to create tension in the cable.
- Keep your upper arms parallel to the ground and pull the rope towards your face, keeping your upper arms at shoulder height.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the peak of the movement.
- Slowly return to the starting position, controlling the cable to prevent it from pulling you forward too quickly.
- Focus on keeping the movement smooth and controlled to protect the shoulder joints.
Why: Mountain Climbers will bring a cardiovascular element to your training program, helping improve conditioning while also working the core, making it a diverse addition to your superset.
- Start in a high plank position with your hands stacked under your shoulders and your body forming a straight line from head to heels.
- Engage your core and draw your right knee into your chest.
- Return the right leg to the starting position while simultaneously drawing your left knee into your chest.
- Continue to alternate legs, picking up the pace for more intensity.
- Maintain a strong plank position throughout the movement to engage the core and protect the lower back.
Why: Incorporating Russian Twists can help in building a strong core, which is central to almost all athletic movements, fostering a balanced workout that goes beyond just upper body strength.
Coaching Point: Russian Twists can be done with a medicine ball as added resistance (as pictured above).
- Sit on the ground with your knees bent and pull your abs to your spine to engage your core.
- Lean back a few inches while keeping the back straight.
- Hold your hands together at your chest, and twist your torso to the right, then to the left to complete one rep.
- To increase the difficulty, lift your feet off the ground.
- Keep the movements controlled and deliberate to effectively work your obliques and abdominal muscles.
Why: Planks will help in strengthening the core, providing a stable foundation for upper body movements, which can enhance the effectiveness of the Arnold Press.
- Start in a forearm plank position, with your elbows directly below your shoulders and your hands facing forward so that your arms are parallel.
- Keep your body in a straight line from head to heels, engaging your core, glutes, and thighs.
- Hold this position for the desired amount of time, remembering to breathe evenly throughout.
- Avoid letting your hips sag or your back arch, to maintain proper alignment and engage the core effectively.
Why: Adding a lower body exercise like Dumbbell Lunges can ensure that your training program is well-rounded, fostering full-body strength and conditioning.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and hands on your hips or holding weights at your sides.
- Take a big step forward with your right leg, then lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Your front knee should be directly above your ankle, and the back knee should hover just above the ground.
- Press through the heel of your right foot to return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other leg, alternating legs for the desired number of repetitions.
Why: Burpees can elevate the heart rate and introduce a cardio element to the workout, which can be great for improving overall conditioning and burning calories, offering a dynamic finish to your superset.
- Start in a standing position, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Drop into a squat position and place your hands on the ground.
- Kick your feet back into a plank position, keeping your core engaged and your body straight.
- Perform a push-up (optional) before jumping your feet back to the squat position.
- Explosively jump up from the squat position, reaching your arms overhead.
- Land softly and immediately move into the next rep, maintaining a fluid motion throughout the exercise.
Supersets are a remarkable tool in any strength program, offering dynamic and efficient ways to enhance muscular strength, endurance, and hypertrophy.
When paired wisely, such as the Arnold Press coupled with the suggested exercises detailed above, supersets can foster balanced muscle development and prevent overuse injuries.
Remember, the key to a successful training program is not only in the selection of exercises but also in the meticulous attention to the correct form to ensure safety and effectiveness.