Supersetting is the practice of doing 2 or more exercises together in an alternate manner with little or no rest in between. For example, if you were to superset biceps and triceps you could do a set of bicep curls followed by a set of tricep extensions with no rest in between. You can do multiple sets of these supersets and use any exercises.
In my opinion supersetting has many benefits and is a good way of completing higher volume workouts in less time. Cutting down on rest periods whilst still allowing for target muscles to be rested whilst antagonistic muscles are being worked. As you rest the biceps you work the triceps, and as you rest the triceps you work the biceps. This means that you can cut your workout time down significantly.
So how do you superset? What are the key rules you must stick to? I have 3 key rules that must be adhered to in order to superset successfully.
Muscles supersetted must be antagonistic pairs.
This basically means that you cannot train muscles that will be used in the same motions. You must use opposing muscles that create opposing movements in the body (for example muscles that push and muscles that pull). You must also use muscles that are not being used in the first exercise. So if you are wanting to superset a muscle with chest you must either use back or biceps as these create the opposite movement patterns and are not used in any chest exercises predominantly. If you take bench press for example, you use the pecs and triceps predominantly. You can superset this with chins as these use the lats and biceps predominantly. The chest and triceps can rest whilst you do chins.
Don’t superset large compound exercises.
This is not a hard fast rule but it is a tip that I would generally stick to. For example if you were to do deadlift, I would not superset it with something like bench press. It would be better to superset with lighter cable flyes. When doing a compound exercise you will fatigue very quickly due to larger weight and more muscles used. It is best to rest on your supersetted exercise by doing an isolation exercise.
Don’t take too long in between exercises.
If you take too long in between doing your exercises you will let the muscles cool down too much and you risk injury as well as not giving the muscle a good enough workout. The action of performing the superset is the rest period for one muscle rather than taking a rest period in between each super set.
You can superset large bodyparts with smaller ones, for example superset back with triceps. You can use supersets for just part of your routine like supersetting leg extensions with hamstring curls at the end of a legs workout. There are loads of things you could do with supersets.
Here is an example superset workout – chest and back
Bench press + Wide grip lat pull down – 3 x 8-12 reps
Incline flyes + Barbell row – 3 x 8-12 reps
Dumbbell press + dumbbell row – 3 x 8-12 reps
This workout competes 18 sets but should take the same time as a normal fast 9 set workout.
So give it a go and see how it feels. I guarantee you will feel very fatigued but very pumped after the workout.