All About Supersets- What They Are, Benefits Of Doing Them, And Superset Ideas
Have you ever heard of a superset? While they don't require you to be a superhero to perform them, they could very well be considered a prerequisite to developing that superhuman physique you have been dreaming about.
Wondering what they are and how you can harness their excellent properties? In this installment of our latest blog, we cover that and much more.
What Are Supersets Anyway?
Supersets are a popular weightlifting technique that athletes use to increase the intensity and save time. Hence, the moniker "intensity technique".
Supersets typically involve pairing two (or more) exercises that usually work opposing muscle groups with no rest in between. This practice helps to stimulate greater muscle growth because you're able to do more work in a shorter amount of time. Let's take a look at a more detailed roundup of all their benefits.
Benefits Of Supersetting Exercises
Supersetting allows you to save time
If you're a busy person, time is often of the essence when it comes to working out. That's where supersets come in handy. A superset is when you perform two exercises back-to-back with no rest in between.
This is a great way to save time in the gym since you're getting two exercises done at once. As a result, you'll be able to get more out of your workout in a shorter amount of time. So if you're looking for a way to save time and get a great workout, consider adding supersets into your routine.
Better Muscle Gain
Supersets are an excellent way to build muscle faster because they provide a greater stimulus to the muscles. When you work different muscle groups back-to-back, you create a hypertrophic (muscle growth) response that is greater than if you had just worked one muscle group at a time.
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In addition, supersets help to increase the amount of muscle microdamage and tears, which also leads to greater hypertrophy. If you combine two large muscle groups together, such as the chest and back, you'll create an even greater anabolic environment for growth.
Greater Muscle Endurance
Another great benefit of supersets is that they help to improve muscle endurance. When you do multiple sets of an exercise without rest, your muscles have to work harder and for a longer period of time. As a result, your muscles will become more resistant to fatigue, buffer metabolic byproducts better, and you'll be able to lift heavier weights for longer periods of time.
In addition, supersets help to improve your cardiovascular endurance since your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your muscles. Not bad eh?
Enhanced Calorie Burn
Supersetting also helps to enhance the calorie-burning effects of your workout. When you do multiple exercises back-to-back, your heart rate will elevate and you'll start to breathe heavier.
This means that you'll be burning more calories both during and after your workout. Not to mention that your metabolism will be elevated for hours after you finish working out.
Bust Through Plateaus
Eventually, a time will come after lifting weights when you just seem to stagnate. You find it difficult to increase your lifts, or continually progress. This is a result of the wonderfully adaptative nature of the human body.
Your level of fitness has increased to the point where your body is used to the loads you've been putting on it and no longer needs to adapt. This is called a plateau, and supersets are an excellent way to break through these frustrating periods by introducing an unfamiliar stimulus.
In reality, you can superset any two exercises. However, you are going to have a hard time keeping up your intensity if you superset two exercises for the chest, for example.
That is why supersets are almost exclusively used to pair opposing muscle groups.
This leaves the second muscle group being trained fresh and able to handle the training load.
Some excellent Push-Pull Superset pairings are:
Chest & Back
Combining exercises such as the bench press with a back exercise such as the lat pulldown is an excellent way to get the benefits of a superset while still allowing each muscle group to be trained with maximal intensity.
Biceps & Triceps
Pairing exercises for these two groups is an excellent way to save time since they are both small muscle groups. A great example would be to superset the dumbbell curl with the triceps pushdown or skull crusher.
Quad and Hamstrings
Training your legs is a huge undertaking, so it's often best to break them down into smaller groups. A great superset for legs would be the squat with the hamstring curl or leg press with the lying leg curl.
The shoulder is another small muscle group that can be effectively trained with supersets. Since this group collectively consists of 3 segments, the anterior, lateral and posterior, they can be combined in a superset fashion. A great pairing would be the overhead press with the lateral raise, or the rear delt fly with the front raise.
Upper-Lower Body Superset
This actually works pretty good as well, even though it doesn't necessarily pair two opposing muscle groups in the conventional sense. They work great when doing total body workouts, as you same significant time, and yet, have enough muscle recovery while alternating the upper to lower body.
A great example of an upper-lower body superset would be to pair the bench press with a leg exercise like the squat or leg press. Another great one is to do pull-ups with leg presses.
There are so many other combinations that you can do, and the options are endless. Just be creative, have fun with it, and see what works best for you.
Also known as same muscle supersets, these have to be the most intense variation of supersetting since you are pushing that singular muscle group as far as it can go.
The positive about this type of superset is that muscular stimulus is insane, as is the demand on your cardiovascular system. Think of it as a HIIT weightlifting session.
Fatigue is likely to occur much more rapidly, however, which is why the working sets are often limited to 2-3.
A great compound superset for legs would be to pair the squat with the lunge. For the chest, you could do the bench press with push-ups or flyes. And for the back, try pull-ups with rows.
Rest periods need to be longer as well; 60-90 seconds are quite acceptable to allow for adequate recovery.
As you can see, there are many great ways that you can pair exercises together to create supersets. Just remember to keep the intensity high and focus on quality over quantity.
Supersets can be done with any two exercises and even more than 2 exercises (such as tri sets or giant sets), but it's best to choose ones that work opposing muscle groups.
To maximize the benefits of supersets, it's important to choose exercises that are moderately challenging but still manageable. Exercises like squats and bench presses should not be too taxing on your muscles and cardiopulmonary system, while exercises like curls and triceps extensions should be performed with moderate resistance levels.
If you find yourself struggling with an exercise, try reducing the weight or adding more repetitions before moving on to the next set.
Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Supersets
Supersets are a great way to increase your muscle growth and strength. Here are some tips for getting the most out of supersets:
1. Choose the right exercises. Supersets should be performed with compound exercises, which involve more than one muscle group working together. This will provide greater stimulus for muscle growth and development.
2. Don't do too many sets. Too many sets can lead to overtraining and fatigue, hindering your progress. Stick to 3-4 sets per exercise, and take adequate rest (minimum 30 seconds between sets).
3. Pair opposing muscle groups. When performing a superset, it is important to pair opposing muscles together in order to maximize the resistance you are providing them. For example, if you are doing an exercise that targets your biceps, it is recommended to also perform an exercise that targets your triceps at the same time; this will help to balance out the workload and provide greater results overall.
4. Use a challenging weight. When lifting weights, make sure you use a weight that is challenging but still manageable (i.e., not too heavy). This way, you won’t get injured and you’ll be able to see better results faster!
5. Rest no more than 30 seconds between supersets. Enough rest allows your muscles time to recover; this will help ensure maximal gains in strength and size! Rest periods exist between sets and supersets, so that is understood for clarity.
How To Incorporate Supersets Into Your Workout Routine
If you’re looking to add supersets to your workout routine, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, make sure you select the right exercises. As mentioned earlier, it is best to perform compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups.
Second, don’t do too many sets per exercise. It is recommended that you stick to 3-4 sets per exercise, with 30 seconds of rest in between supersets.
Third, make sure you pair opposing muscle groups together. For example, if you’re working your chest, pair it with an exercise that targets your back. This will help to keep your muscles balanced and prevent injury.
Your entire workout does NOT need to comprise of supersets. Start off by supersetting two movements during your workout. It is important to remember that supersets are an intensity technique that are not meant to replace standard periodization protocols.
How Many Reps Should A Superset Consist Of?
The number of reps you should be performing in your superset depends on your goals. If hypertrophy and muscle gain is your priority, keep the weight on the higher side, and repetitions in the 6-8 range.
This means that EACH exercise in the superset should consist of that many reps.
On the other hand, if your goal is muscular endurance of fat loss, anywhere between 15-30 reps per exercise is recommended.
Precautions When Attempting Supersets
While supersets can be great and very effective when used correctly, they can correctly be compared to a fire.
When managed, and under control, fire is an amazing and life-changing tool. However, allowing it to spiral out of control, and things can be bad, fast.
Supersets have a much higher risk of causing injury and overtraining if not done correctly.
Additionally, because of the increase in volume and intensity, it is important to make sure you are eating enough calories and getting adequate rest when attempting to incorporate supersets into your workout routine.
Your exercise form is also paramount. Trying to do too much, and with poor exercise, form is a recipe for a serious injury to the muscle or soft tissue.
Plus, post-exercise pain, otherwise known as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) is going to be much worse, especially if you are new to working out.
Supersets can be an amazing tool to help you reach your fitness goals, whether they be related to hypertrophy, muscle endurance, or fat loss.
Just remember that with anything in the fitness world, more is not always better. Be sure to start slow, and listen to your body. As long as you are able to recover properly after your initial session, you might be able to increase the frequency and volume of your supersets.
Additionally, make sure you are eating a balanced diet and getting adequate rest to help minimize the risk of injury or overtraining.