Have you recently reached a plateau in your weight loss? Are you a hard gainer who wants a proven way to build muscle and gain size? Maybe you’re just bored with your current workout and you want a way to make things more intense. Superset training is a scientifically proven way to smash through plateaus, save time, and achieve your fitness goals.
Let’s take a look at what constitutes superset training, benefits of supersets, and how to start doing supersets in your next workout. I’ll even throw in a few superset workouts to get you started.
How to Perform Superset Training
In short, superset training is when you perform two exercises back to back with no rest in between. But there are a few ways that you can utilize superset training, and changing it up can increase the intensity and difficulty.
Same Muscle Group
As the name suggests, this is when you perform two exercises back to back targeting the same muscle group. For example, if it is leg day and you’re currently performing barbell back squats, you could immediately follow this up with jump squats or lunge.
Here’s an example of a superset written in your workout:
· A1: Barbell Back Squats: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
· A2: Jump Squats: 3 x 10
Opposing Muscle Groups
Using supersets with opposing muscle groups involves pairing muscles that are either directly opposite of one another or in the upper vs. lower half of the body. For example, muscle groups that are directly opposite of one another would include the following:
· Back vs. chest
· Quadriceps vs. hamstrings
· Biceps vs. triceps
· Front deltoids vs. rear deltoids
· Abdominals vs. lower back
· Upper vs. lower abdominals
The other way to pair opposing muscle groups is to perform an upper body exercise followed by a lower body exercise. Even this can be broken down into same side or opposing side upper and lower splits, depending on your experience, preference, and fatigue level.
For example, a same side upper and lower split could involve the back and hamstrings or quadriceps and chest. Opposing side upper and lower splits could be a chest exercise followed by a hamstring exercise, or a quadricep exercise followed by a back exercise.
Same Side Upper-Lower Splits
· Chest and quadriceps
· Chest and triceps
· Chest and abdominals
· Back and hamstrings
· Back and glutes
· Back and calves
· Back and traps
Opposing Side Upper-Lower Splits
· Chest and hamstrings
· Chest and biceps
· Chest and lower back
· Back and quadriceps
· Back and abdominals
· Back and obliques
· Back and front deltoids
Entire Workout is Supersets
Once you figure out how you’ll perform a superset, there is going to be a question of how prevalent should this training methodology be in your workout.
The first choice is to base the entire workout on supersets. Each exercise will be appropriately paired with another based on whether or not you’re choosing a full body, upper vs. lower split, or push vs. pull workout. From here, your workout will be written as follows:
· A1: Exercise 1
· A2: Exercise 2
· B1: Exercise 3
· B2: Exercise 4
· C1: Exercise 5
· C2: Exercise 6
· D1: Exercise 7
· D2: Exercise 8
The idea is to perform the first exercise in the set (e.g., A1, B1, C1, D1), immediately follow it up with the second exercise in the set (e.g., A2, B2, C2, D2), then take a break of 90 to 120 seconds.
If you’re happy with your current workout, but you want to bring the muscle to total exhaustion, superset training can help. You can superset your final set of exercise for the targeted muscle group, ensuring that you bring it to failure.
After you’re finished with your normal workout, pair two exercises for the same muscle group – the primary one you’re focusing on that day – and make that superset your final one for the workout.
It’s important to note before you begin a superset-based workout that additional recovery time will be needed. Studies show that the intensity and overall volume of superset training usually requires a higher degree of resting time and nutrition. More on recovery tips for superset training below.
Benefits of Supersets
Supersets are a proven way to accomplish the following fitness goals:
Fat Burning:Studiesshow that the increased intensity from a superset-based workout triggers a higher degree of caloric expenditure, promoting fat burning and overall weight loss.
Muscle Building:By supersetting your exercises, it’s easier to achieve that level of damage that is needed to cause hypertrophic growth in the muscle tissue. Studiesshow
Hormone Health:Studiessuggest that using supersets can promote a rise in testosterone levels, making it very useful for anyone who is suffering from low levels of testosterone.
Time-Efficient: In the same vein as high-intensity interval training, supersets can help you save time by pairing exercises together without a break.
Below, you’ll find a superset workout where the entire program is based on pairing two exercises together. For each workout, be sure to warm up and foam roll to prepare your body for the intense workout that is going to follow.
A1: Swiss Ball Ab Move: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
A2: Forward Walking Dumbbell Lunges: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
B1: Outward Chops w/Band: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
B2: Kneeling Overhead Band Chops: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
Complete the four exercises above three times each before moving on to the next set below.
C1: Standing Reverse Lateral Raises With Bands: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
C2: Dumbbell Press: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
D1: Imaginary Chair High Row With Bands: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
D2: Inverted Squat: 3 sets of 12 to 20 repetitions
· Perform the side shuffle for 10 seconds, then immediately move into squat for another 10 seconds, and finish with jumping jacks for 10 seconds. Repeat this exercise pattern for a total of three minutes.
Single Kettlebell Swing for 3 minutes
Inertia Wave for 3 minutes
Want to Try Superset Training?
Ready to get started with superset training, but you’re not sure how to begin, reach out to me and let me help you achieve your weight loss and muscle building fitness goals. Have your own superset workout ideas? Share them below and I’ll be happy to give you feedback.
Tips for Post-Workout Recovery
Before I provide you with a series of superset workouts, I want to make sure you understand that this type of training is going to demand focus on recovery. Here are some basic recovery tips that can provide the highest level of muscle repair and help you achieve your goal faster.
Sleep: This one is non-negotiable: Sleep is required for proper cellular and muscle tissue repair. Experts currently recommend getting no less than seven hours of sleep each night. The more active you are, the more sleep you should plan to get.
Nutrition: Nutrition provides the building blocks for recovery. If you’re eating a terrible diet, you’re only hurting your gains and results. Focus on whole food choices that are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. I highly recommend figuring out your daily recommended caloric intake and tracking it with a meal-tracking app on your phone or tablet.
Supplements: While the bulk of your diet should be made up of whole food choices, supplements can provide an extra boost in performance and recovery. I highly recommend whey protein, amino acids, and recovery-focused nutrients such as zinc and magnesium.
Massage: Want to break up those knots, boost blood flow, and get back in the gym faster? Massage has been shown to be an effective measure to alleviate muscle soreness while maximizing muscle recovery.
Epsom Salt Baths: If you find that you’re extra sore following a superset workout, an Epsom salt bath can help to mitigate the worst of your soreness. Prepare a hot bath, add Epsom salt, and let yourself soak for at least 15 minutes.
For more tips and tricks to maximize recovery, check out my article on the art and science of recovery.