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This Dumbbell Superset Workout Will Develop Athletic Power

Dumbbell snatch
(Image credit: Getty Images / Westend61)

Supersets – a workout format in which two moves are done back to back with no rest – are an ideal way of achieving greater intensity without extending the length of your workout. 

Personal trainer Joseph Khan (opens in new tab) has created this athletic workout based around four supersets, which helps you optimise fat burning while gaining lean muscle mass.

“By using intensity, time under tension, full-body compound movements, explosive power, speed, recovery time and rep ranges, you will get your heart racing and your muscle fibres working overtime,” Khan says.

Each of the four supersets should be performed three times, with the reps of the second move decreasing with each set. The first move of each superset is to be done 12 times, explosively, followed by the second move, slowly, for 10 reps. Rest for 90 seconds then repeat the moves in the superset again, but this time, perform the second move eight times. In the third and final go at the superset, repeat the second move six times. Then move on to the next superset and repeat that sequence. 

This approach stimulates both fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle tissues, as well as requiring the body to use different energy systems.

“The explosive portion will transfer to other sports and may reduce an athlete's risk of injury during activities that involve high power outputs with quick acceleration, such as most racket and field sports,” Khan says.

All you need for the workout is a set of dumbbells. Maintain perfect form and train with intensity. So stick to the rest periods and be ready to go again as soon as each one ends. 

1A Alternating dumbbell snatch

Dumbbell snatch

(Image credit: Getty Images / Westend61)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and one dumbbell on the floor in front of you. Brace your core and squat down, grasping the dumbbell using an overhand grip, knuckles facing forwards. Initiating the movement with your legs, drive up and, as the dumbbell rises, flip your elbow underneath it in a fluid movement and press the weight up until your arm is extended. Swap hands on the dumbbell and reverse the movement to the starting position. Maintain a flat back throughout. Repeat the move, alternating sides. 

1B Dumbbell Romanian deadlift

Dumbbell Romanian deadlift

(Image credit: Getty Images / South_agency)

Sets 3 Reps 10, 8, 6 Rest 90sec

Stand with a slight bend in your knees, holding dumbbells in front of you. Keeping your back flat throughout, bend at your hips and knees to lower the dumbbells, pushing your hips back and lowering your torso until it’s almost parallel with the floor. The dumbbells should glide down over your knees and along your shins. Push through your heels to return to standing, squeezing your glutes when you reach the start position.  

2A Dumbbell thruster

Dumbbell thruster

(Image credit: Getty Images / Thomas Barwick)

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells by your shoulders with your palms facing each other and elbows pointing forwards. Keeping your back flat and chest up, bend your knees and push your hips back until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Push through your heels to rise explosively and press the dumbbells overhead. Lower the dumbbells to your shoulders and go again. 

2B Dumbbell overhead press

Dumbbell overhead press

(Image credit: Getty Images / Thomas Barwick)

Sets 3 Reps 10, 8, 6 Rest 90sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells by your shoulders, but this time with your palms facing forwards and elbows bent at 90° and out to the sides. Brace your core and keep a slight bend in your knees. Press both dumbbells up using your upper body – avoid generating any momentum with your legs. Lower the dumbbells under control.

3A Walking plank

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Start in a forearm plank position, supporting your body on your forearms and balls of your feet, with your elbows under your shoulders and your body in a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Keeping your body as still as possible, push up with your left hand and straighten your left arm, then do the same with your right arm. Lower one arm at a time to go back into the forearm plank start position. Alternate the side that you push up from. 

3B Floor press

Dumbbell floor press

(Image credit: Getty Images / skynesher)

Sets 3 Reps 10, 8, 6 Rest 90sec

Lie on the floor (or a weights bench if available) with your knees bent and feet flat. Hold dumbbells in an overhand grip just above your chest. Using your arms and chest to power the movement, lift the dumbbells until your arms are extended. Lower under control to the starting position. 

4A Dumbbell Pendlay row

Sets 3 Reps 12 Rest 0sec

Start with dumbbells on the floor, either side of your feet. Hinge forwards at your hips and bend your knees until your torso is parallel to the ground. Pick up the dumbbells with your palms facing. Keeping your core tight, draw your elbows back to bring the dumbbells towards your chest. Lower the dumbbells under control, place them back on the floor and release your grip.

4B Dumbbell bent-over row

Dumbbell bent-over row

(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus / SerhiiBobyk)

Sets 3 Reps 10, 8, 6 Rest 90sec

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding dumbbells by your sides with your palms facing. Push your hips back and bend your torso to a 45° angle. Brace your core, then draw your elbows back to lift the dumbbells to the sides of your chest. Pause at the top, squeeze your shoulder blades, then lower the dumbbells under control back to the start.

Lucy is a freelance journalist, and former health and fitness editor across various UK women’s magazines. She is also a level 3 personal trainer and is trained in pre- and post-natal fitness.