A superset is two different exercises performed back to back with little or no rest in between alternating opposing muscle groups. Examples could include bicep curls followed by triceps extensions, bench presses followed by barbell rows, or leg extensions followed by hamstring curls. This saves on time and allows you to pick up the intensity. By working opposing muscle groups, you allow your muscles enough recovery time to start each lift fresh and keep the blood the heart rate up.
Try alternating lower body and upper body exercises for an increased demand on the cardiovascular system. Blood carrying oxygen and nutrients is rushed to the working muscles, in a deadlift to the lower body. By then alternating to an overhead press, the heart has to work overtime to rush blood back and to the upper body. This can create a cardiovascular effect similar to running. Expect to finish the same amount of sets in your standard workout in half the time.
Compound sets are very similar to supersets, except you work the same muscle group. Again, little to no rest in between sets. The goal is to move from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible with good form. Like supersets, compound sets are a tremendous time saver. Start with the multiple joint exercises that allow more weight to be used first, and then move to an isolation exercise. Examples would include bench press then by chest flyes, pull-ups then by pull downs, squats followed by leg presses. Compound sets give you the advantage of working your muscles from a variety of angles, a key factor in gaining muscle mass.
Developed by R.E. Morgan and G.T. Anderson in 1953 at the University of Leeds, England, the term circuit refers to a number of carefully selected exercises arranged consecutively. In the original format, a circuit would comprise of 9 to 12 stations. This number may vary according to the design of the circuit. Each trainee moves from one station to the next with little or no rest, performing a 15- to 45-second workout of 8 to 20 repetitions at each station using a resistance of about 40% to 60% of their one-repetition maximum.
While it may be impractical to take up 12 different exercise machines, by using a combination of equipment like bodyweight, dumbbells, jump ropes, ect. it is possible to link several different exercises together while training in a commercial gym.
Complex sets involve a circuit using one piece of equipment, with the same weight, and staying in the same place. Common equipment choices are kettlebells, sandbags, dumbbells and the most popular choice being the barbell. An example of a complex set would start with 10 barbell deadlifts, then without letting the bar go, perform 10 front squats, then 10 overhead press, 10 back squats and finally 10 barbell back rows. The basic rule is to use the heaviest weight you can on the weakest movement in the complex. For example this complex contains an overhead press, the weakest exercise, and a back squat; you'd use the weight you can handle on the overhead press, not the back squat. This can be done with a loaded barbell or a broom stick depending on your condition and it is a personal favorite for fat loss.