What Are Supersets? – Explained!

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In this article, I will be answering the question, what are supersets? If you have been training for a decent amount of time, I am sure you’ve heard the term supersets before! If this is the case, you also likely know how they can help give insane pumps!

There are reasons to understand what this “style” of exercise is. For that reason, in this article, I will be giving you a definition, their relation to our training and how you can implement them. Without wasting too much time, let’s jump into the article so you can learn what supersets are!

Supersets Explained:

A standard superset involves performing one set of an exercise, then immediately switching to another. They were created to be done by switching between antagonistic muscle groups. This means the opposing muscle group. An example is switching between the bicep curl and a triceps pushdown.

With that being said, there are a couple of other implementations of supersets. One includes switching between the same muscle group exercises, with the other being taking a slight rest in between switching exercises. There are different applications of supersets for different goals. Let’s give an example to help cement this definition!

I already gave the example of a bicep curl going into a triceps extension being a standard superset. Another one of these examples would be going from a dumbbell press to a dumbbell row. For the superset variation involving switching between the same muscle group exercises, an example would be going from a skull crusher to a triceps extension. If you were to throw a 15-30 second rest in between switching exercises, that would be a great example of a slight pause between movements.

If switching between the same muscle group exercises, a pause can be beneficial to help increase your performance on the subsequent movement.

Supersets Related to Your Training:

Now that you understand what a superset is, it is time to see how this style of exercise relates to and can benefit your training. Two main benefits of supersets would be achieving a certain amount of volume in a more time-efficient manner. With the second benefit of supersets being their help with overall training enjoyability. Let’s dive into these topics a little more!

When training, it can be difficult to achieve certain amounts of volume, especially if you require a significant amount to see progress. Supersets can be a great way to cut down on your time spent to achieve this volume by reducing the amount of time spent resting. This is done with minimal drawbacks on performance if done with the standard antagonistic muscle group superset. This is assuming the cardiovascular component doesn’t interfere with your performance.

A practical example of this would be if you are running a strength program. The focus is on increasing intensity (the weights you are using), this can oftentimes mean that your volume takes a backseat. However, achieving a certain amount of volume, perhaps with the goal of maintaining muscle mass can be beneficial. So to cut back on extensive time for your training sessions, consider implementing supersets to help achieve this volume. This is actually something that I am currently doing myself at the moment.

We also talked about supersets helping with your overall training enjoyment. This is in the sense of straight sets becoming rather repetitive at times. I am not telling you to ditch straight sets, they should make up the majority of your training in most scenarios. However, if you have a practical reason to implement supersets (such as the one mentioned above, or just to make your training a bit more fun), then consider implementing them!

Speaking of implementation, let’s talk about that in the next and final section of this article!

The Implementation of Supersets:

Being this far into the article, we know what supersets are and how they may benefit us. However, this information doesn’t do us much good if we don’t know how to implement them! Let’s talk about how you can implement supersets into your training!

To start, we need to think about why we are implementing supersets. Is it to make achieving volume more time-efficient, aiding in training enjoyability, or another reason of yours?

If it is to make your volume more time-efficient, then I would suggest looking at the amount of volume you are looking to achieve for your muscle groups first. From there, look at how you can implement supersets to achieve this volume. If hypertrophy is your main focus, consider trying to spread this volume over 2-3 of your training days. A rough example of this would be taking 12 sets of volume for biceps, and performing 8 sets on Tuesday, followed by 4 sets on Friday.

If you are looking to implement supersets to help with overall training enjoyment, then consider taking your current volume and super setting exercises. Depending on the person, this gain in time efficiency may also make training more enjoyable! Another way you could do this is by super setting the same muscle group exercises, because as well all know, getting a sick pump is nothing to complain about! Haha! If you do this, consider implementing a slight 15-30 second rest between switching exercises to help keep your performance from deteriorating too much.

The Gist on Supersets:

Well, everyone, that’s the article! After reading, you should know what supersets are, how they relate to your training as well as some benefits that you may be able to get from them! Also, how you can implement supersets into your training routine for your benefit!

The goal of this article was to help you with your training progress! Just like anything on this website, it is designed to benefit you! I thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and as always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!

Here are some other articles I have written that are related to this one or you be able to benefit from overall!

What is Volume in Training?

What is Intensity in Training?

 

Until Next Time,

Kohl Johnson

Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.

Support is much appreciated if you benefited from this:
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Kohl Johnson

I am a 16-year-old fitness fanatic! I have learned nothing but quality training and nutrition information from the utmost well-respected individuals in the field. Now, my only focus is to share this knowledge with you for your benefit, in the most honest way possible. We are all in this together! LET'S GO!

4 Responses

  1. Can you tell me how you would use supersets in conjunction with HIIT (high intensity interval training)? I love this style of training and think that supersets would fit in well. Specifically how would you time the training if combining the two styles? I like to use a tabata timer and create my own workout. I’m wondering if it would be beneficial to work the two opposing muscle groups with a 30 second cool down interval. You could still get quite a bit of volume and benefit in my opinion. What are your suggestions. 

    • Hi Ashley, thanks for checking out the article! HIIT training and supersets are their own two styles of training. I don’t see the two correlating very well as HIIT is more meant for conditioning, while supersets are more meant for getting in training volume for hypertrophy reasons. I hope that helps!

  2. Thanks so much for this informative article. Although I was able to understand only a small portion of the article, I got some pointers to follow. I just started a home fitness program and actually struggling building my muscles without any gym equipment. My instructor is teaching us how to build muscles from home using our body weight, so you can imagine the struggle I’m having right now understanding the terminologies used here. But I’m progressing, and later on, I will implement what has been laid out here on supersets. If I wanna learn more about the terminologies, what online reference do you recommend for us to visit and browse? 

    • Hi there, thanks for checking out the article! It is true, with time and experience, you do become more knowledgable of the different terminologies. It took me a while to acquire this knowledge as well when I first started. This post is actually a part of a whole section on my website where I give the definitions of fitness terms. If there are other words used in this article to help describe supersets that you don’t understand, consider checking that section out!

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