If you’re ready to elevate your strength training game, boost muscle growth, and burn calories in record time, then it’s time you add supersets to your workout routine.
Supersets are a game-changing technique in the fitness realm that seamlessly blends exercises, one after another, in a strategic muscle engagement. This workout challenges muscles to grow, promotes fat loss, and takes strength training to new heights.
This article provides more information about supersets. It explores the many benefits of supersets, types of supersets, mistakes to avoid when performing supersets, and various superset workouts tailored to suit different fitness goals.
What are Supersets?
Supersets are strength training or bodybuilding techniques where you perform two different exercises back-to-back with little to no rest in between. The two exercises in a superset can target the same muscles (agonistic superset) or opposing muscles (antagonistic superset).
Unlike traditional strength training workouts, supersets have you perform the first set in the first exercise before moving to the first set in the second exercise, then right back to the second set in the first exercise, then to the second set in the second exercise, and so on. By doing so, the supersets increase the aerobic intensity of your workout, save time, and keep the heart rate elevated, maximizing your fitness gains.
The number of sets in supersets is similar to a traditional resistance training program; however, the resting duration is shortened between the sets. This suits you if you have limited time to do more in a single session.
Types of Supersets
There are different types of supersets you can try depending on your fitness goals. Here are three types of supersets you should consider adding to your workout routine for fat loss, muscle strength, and development.
Antagonistic supersets, also known as push-pull supersets, involve performing two exercises back to back, targeting opposing muscle groups one after the other. For instance, pairing pull-ups for chest and shoulder muscles with pull-ups for back and biceps muscles, bench presses with barbell rows, or bicep curls with tricep dips.
Isolation- Compound Superset
Isolation –compound supersets pair an isolation exercise (targeting a specific muscle) with a compound exercise (involving multiple muscle groups). For instance, doing lateral raises followed by bench presses or biceps curls with seated rows.
Any of the workouts (isolation or compound) can come first. However, if you start with an isolation exercise (also known as pre-exhaustion superset), for instance, bicep curls, your biceps can get fatigued and may run out of energy. This will make the performance of rows challenging, forcing you to rely on back muscles to perform rows.
Starting with a compound workout, also known as a post-exhaustion superset, is more beneficial than starting with an isolation exercise. It allows you to fatigue the muscle you want to focus on with a compound workout before targeting it with a specific isolation workout. Doing so adds an extra blast of work to that muscle, which is required for muscle growth and strength.
Besides, compound exercises are more significant exercises recruiting multiple muscles. They need good technique and coordination from other muscles, which, if targeted first, will not offer support.
Upper / Lower Body Supersets
Upper / lower-body supersets involve alternating between exercises for the upper body and exercises for the lower body. This approach is effective for full-body workouts, providing a comprehensive training stimulus and efficient time use.
For example, performing a set of bench presses followed immediately by a set of barbell squats or overhead shoulder presses followed by lunges that target the shoulders and legs, respectively.
Types of Muscles Supersets Target
The muscles worked during superset exercises depend on the chosen exercises. You can design supersets to target various muscle groups, such as hamstring and quadriceps, triceps and biceps, and chest and back muscles. For instance, antagonistic superset exercises like bench press followed by bent-over rows work on the chest (bench press) and back (bent-over rows).
Upper-lower superset workouts like overhead shoulder presses and barbell squats work on shoulders and legs.
Isolation-compound superset exercises such as tricep dips followed by chest flyes work on triceps (isolation -dips) and Chest (compound -chest flyes) muscles.
In general, supersets can be designed to target specific muscle groups or provide a full-body workout, depending on your fitness goals. Consider your overall training program when creating it, and ensure you work all major muscle groups for balanced strength development.
5 Benefits of Supersets
Five benefits of adding supersets to your fitness training routine include.
1. Increased Hypertrophy and Strength
Supersets increase muscle hypertrophy (growth) and strength through shorter resting periods between sets and higher intensity. The minimal resting period between sets involved in supersets increases your workout intensity, which activates your muscles at a higher level, leading to muscle hypertrophy.
A shorter resting period also leads to increased time under tension for the muscles. The longer you subject the targeted muscles to stress, the more strength and muscle hypertrophy gain.
2. Reduced Workout Time
Unlike traditional strength training workouts that require completing all the sets of a single workout before moving on, supersets are a time-efficient training technique. They allow you to perform two back-to-back exercises with minimal rest, reducing your workout’s overall duration.
It also helps you reach your fitness goal faster as it enables you to do more in single sessions in the gym. If you have a busy schedule or want to optimize your training time to do more to reach your goal faster, incorporate supersets in your training routine.
3. Greater Aerobic and Metabolic Effects
According to some research, superset workouts like push-pull increase the aerobic effect and metabolic response more than traditional training. The continuous nature of supersets, with minimal rest between exercises, elevates your heart rate and keeps it elevated throughout the workout, leading to greater aerobic and metabolic effects.
Greater aerobic metabolic effects can enhance your cardiovascular fitness and promote calorie burning. The high metabolic rate can also contribute to increased post-exercise calorie expenditure.
4. Allows for Addition of Various Workouts
Supersets offer versatility in workout design. You can pair different exercises to target specific muscle groups or combine resistance and aerobic training.
Various workout options help keep your routine interesting and challenging as you can add, remove, or change exercises or workout intensity.
Additionally, incorporating supersets can challenge your muscles in new ways, potentially breaking through plateaus and stimulating further progress in strength and fitness.
5. Increased Calorie Expenditure
The continuous movement and reduced rest between exercises elevate your heart rate, contributing to increased calorie expenditure, which can be helpful if you aim to burn more calories, whether for weight management or fat loss.
Are Supersets Good for Muscle or Fat Loss?
Supersets promote muscle building and fat loss, but the emphasis and effectiveness may vary based on how you structure your workouts and overall fitness goals.
When performing superset exercises back to back with minimal rest, you increase the time under tension for the muscles. This prolonged tension can stimulate muscle growth, especially when targeting specific muscle groups.
Supersets allow you to perform a higher volume of work in less time. This increased training density can lead to muscle development if the exercises appropriately target the desired muscle groups.
Regarding fat loss, supersets can help you lose fat through their reduced resting periods between exercises, which can elevate your heart rate. Elevated heart rate increases calorie expenditure, creating a calorie deficit crucial for fat loss.
Supersets also boost your metabolism during and after the workout, leading to an extended period of elevated calorie burning known as EPOC. This post-exercise effect can contribute to overall fat loss.
Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Supersets
While supersets can be an effective and time-efficient training strategy, there are some common things that individuals might need to correct when incorporating them into their workout routines. Avoiding these mistakes is essential to ensure a safe and effective training experience. Here are some common superset exercise mistakes to avoid:
Avoid Neglecting Resting Periods.
The goal of superset is to minimize rest. Not allowing your body adequate resting periods between workouts is not good. Research shows that doing back-to-back workouts with minimal rest can cause severe muscle damage.
To prevent this, have enough recovery time between workouts and tailor rest periods to your fitness level and the specific superset structure.
Also, instead of doing supersets daily, mix them throughout the week. In between sessions, you can work one muscle group as the other recovers.
Avoid Overcomplicating Workouts
Most bodybuilders create overly complex or lengthy supersets that make it difficult to reach their fitness goals. To implement supersets in your training, keep your workouts simple and focused by picking two or four superset workouts to perform within your current training routine.
For instance, if you are doing bench presses and rows, start doing them as supersets instead of adding other workouts to overwhelm yourself with too many exercises in a single superset.
Avoid Using Inappropriate Weights
Avoid using too heavy weights, because using them will hinder your progress. Using heavy weights also will have you using improper form. Instead, choose weights that allow you to maintain good form while providing a challenge. Adjust the weights based on your fitness level and fatigue during the workout.
Superset Exercise Combination You Should Try
The table below shows exercises to perform for strength, fat loss, and muscle growth. For each workout, perform between 6-15 reps with a short resting period in between before moving on to the next workout. They include:
|Strength Building Superset Exercises
|Muscle Building Superset Exercises
|Fat Loss Superset Exercises
|Barbell squats with barbell bent over row
|Bench press with lat pulldown
|Goblet squat with Barbell bench press
|Deadlift variation with Hip flexor mobilization
|Barbell bench variation with Chest flye variation
|Barbell front squat with Chin up
|Barbell overhead with Forearm wall slides
|Dumbbell lateral with
Dumbbell seated overhead press
|Barbell hip thrust with Dumbbell floor press
|Back squat with Romanian deadlifts
variation with Resistance band hip thrust
|Dumbbell squats with jumping jacks
|Bench press with bent-over rows (4-6 reps each with rest in between)
|Barbell overhead press with bent-over reverse flye
|Kettle swing with burpees
Supersets can be an effective way to build strength, stimulate muscle growth, and enhance cardiovascular fitness. However, choosing appropriate exercises and weights is important. Choose exercises that align with your fitness goals and do not compromise form or safety. Also, pay attention to the weights and adjust them based on your fitness level and fatigue to prevent injuries.
As a beginner, start with traditional training before incorporating supersets. If you’re uncertain about the most suitable approach, consider consulting a fitness professional for personalized guidance.