Look! Over in the weight room! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…Superset!!!!!
It’s time we talked about the multi-stacked, back-to-back, get-your-gains-on-track beauty of a Superset. And we think it’s pretty fair to compare this strength training approach to the famed Man of Steel, because they can help you plow through your workouts faster than a speeding bullet, make you more powerful than a locomotive, and let you leap over your highest strength goals in a single bound! But unlike the fictionalized Superman, the benefits of Supersets are very real indeed.
In this article, we’re going to be running through why we love Supersets, and how to use them to get guns, buns, thighs, and tris of steel in no time at all!
What Is a Superset?
The definition of a Superset is combining two or more sets of different exercises together, woven in between each other. The intervals in which you’re regularly resting are now occupied by a different exercise.
Let’s say your normal chest/tri/shoulder day routine looks something like this: 3 sets of bench presses, with 2-3 minute rest periods between each set. Another little break, then you move on to tricep pulldowns, 3 sets with rests in between. Follow this with 3 sets/rests of overhead barbell presses. A longer rest, and then you do the entire routine over again. With a Superset, however, those 2-3 minute rest periods are now filled with a wholly new exercise. So you’re doing an all-out assault on your muscles, with no chill time (read: no scrolling on your phone in between lifts).
Now, why would anybody do such a thing to their poor muscles? Simple.
The Benefits of Supersets
There are three main benefits of integrating Supersets into your workout routines…
Cardiovascular Health: When you’re no longer leaving rest time between sets, you actually get a pretty effective aerobic workout during your strength training. Whereas normally you’d leave a day dedicated to cardio, or even a short section of your workout, with Supersets your entire weight training routine becomes infused with heart-pounding action.
Quicker Workouts: Don’t have two long and leisurely hours to kill at the gym (plus another hour for a lovely shvitz and shower)? By stacking your workouts on top of each other like a shuffled deck of cards, you can do just as much exercising in a fraction of the time. Ten minutes can be an eternity if it’s chock-full of lifting routines.
Higher Intensity Strength Training: Whether you’re looking to boost your strength gains by pushing your muscles to the limit, or are trying to achieve that toned and tight physicality through lower weight/higher reps, Supersets are for you, because they tire and tucker your muscles out so much better than with other techniques.
The Three Types of Superset
Supersets can be broken into three different types:
Antagonistic Supersets occur when you work a muscle, followed by its exact opposite. That means biceps worked with triceps, chest with back, quads with hamstrings, etc. When you do antagonistic muscle groups, you’re giving one muscle a nice rest while working out its opposite, which has been shown to result in heavier lifts.
A circuit is a type of Superset where you work an entirely different muscle group, giving your muscles a complete rest while saving you time. The most common example of these types of Supersets is by working an upper body part followed by a lower one. Although this doesn’t result in many more gains on average, it’ll help you bust through double the amount of exercises in half the time.
Agonist Supersets, also known as compound Supersets, are the big kahuna of weight lifting routines. These are where you hit one particular muscle with 2 or three different sets. For example, when doing an agonist Superset on your pecs, you might go for a set of bench presses, followed by push ups, followed by bench flys. Back, to back, to back, all on the chest. These movements are highly effective at taking your muscles to failure, but we’d only recommend them for serious lifters with a lot of experience under their belts.
Here are ideas for Superset workouts for your week – give it a go and see what you think!
Workout #1: Chest and Back
Bench press with assisted pull ups — 3 sets of each.
Incline dumbbell bench press with incline dumbbell flys with single arm rows — 3 sets of each.
Workout #2: Shoulders and Legs
Kettlebell squats with dumbbell lunges — 3 sets of each.
Overhead presses with dumbbell lateral raises with dumbbell reverse flys — 3 sets of each.
Workout #3: Biceps and Triceps
Assisted chin ups with reverse-grip bent over row with barbell curls — 3 sets of each.
Diamond push ups with bicep pull downs — 3 sets of each.
Try those on for size. We think you’ll be feelin’ pretty darn super tired at the end of it, with super gains to show for it! And when you’re ready for more muscle-bound guidance from the experts, sign up for a 7-Day Free Trial with Studio SWEAT onDemand! We’ve got a full library of Body Sculpting Classes, along with Indoor Cycling, TRX, HIIT, Yoga, Pilates, and so much more! Sign up today – we’ll take you from Clark Kent to Superman in no time!