In Parts 1 and 2 I discussed 2 of the 3 references on Chad Waterbury’s Fat Loss Research page on www.chadwaterbury.com. I like Chad’s work, I just don’t agree with his use of these references. The science just isn’t behind his recommendations in the way he’d like them to be.
In this final (I hope) installation we’ll tackle the following paper:
Kelleher AR, Kackney KJ, Fairchild TJ, Keslacy S, Ploutz-Snyder LL. The Metabolic Costs of Reciprocal Supersets vs. Traditional Resistance Exercise in Young Recreationally Active Adults. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(4):1043-1051.
Research shows that when you alternate between two reciprocal exercises (presses and rows) you burn more calories and fat than if you did those same two exercises in a traditional way (three sets of presses followed by three sets of rows). So pair up your sets, or even better, perform three or four exercises in a circuit. (Kelleher et al J Strength Cond Res 2010)
Actually, the authors of the paper clearly state that there was no significant difference between traditional (TRAD) and super-set (SUPER) exercise protocols. What they do say is that since the SUPER protocol took less time to complete, exercisers could burn the same amount of total energy in less time.
“Great!” you say.
“Wait!” I say.
In order to accurately measure energy expenditure, researchers made sure to match total work. They had each exerciser first perform the SUPER protocol to volitional fatigue and counted their number of repetitions for each exercise and set. Then they had each exerciser match this work during the TRAD protocol, even if the exerciser could have performed more repetitions.
So in other words, it depends on what your goals are and how much time you have to exercise. If you’re looking to get strong or produce muscle hypertrophy, TRAD style training might be your best bet since you’ll most likely perform more volume for each exercise, even though it will take longer to complete. If you’re in a time crunch while exercising on your lunch break and you’re just out to burn some energy and breathe heavy, go with SUPER style training.
At no point did the researches mention anything about burning more fat, specifically. We can surmise that Waterbury assumes if you burn more calories per time investment, you’ll be losing more fat weight due to a calorie deficit. This, of course, is dependent upon your ability to put the fork down.
All-in-all, this study doesn’t tell us anything we weren’t already thinking. If you’re short on time, cut down the rest periods and get stuff done. If you have time and you like being in the gym, traditional strength training is just fine.