How Do Supersets Work? [4 Ways They Boost Your Workout]

Supersets function on the following principles:

  • Supersets push your muscles harder, which can increase muscular strength and size.
  • You can get more out of your workout with less time by incorporating supersets.
  • By supersetting upper- and lower-body exercises you can build better cardio fitness.
  • Adding supersets can help mix up your gym routine and keep you engaged.

There are different ways to incorporate supersets into your routine. You can work opposing muscles with supersets to achieve a balanced physique. Alternatively, you can use supersets to target the same muscle group for total exhaustion and enhanced muscle development.

How do supersets work?

What are Supersets?

A “superset” is when you perform two exercises back-to-back without rest. The exercises selected can be used to target the same muscle group, different muscle groups, or opposing muscle groups. The idea is to push your muscles to fatigue, giving them the stimulus they need to grow and adapt.

Why Do Supersets Get Results?

The concept of supersets is based on the principle of muscle overload. By doing two exercises in quick succession, you’re forcing your muscles to work harder than they would in a traditional set. This can lead to increased muscle fiber recruitment and a greater metabolic response, both of which contribute to muscle growth.

4 Benefits of Incorporating Supersets into Your Workout

There are several reasons to consider adding supersets to your training program. The most important

Improved Muscle Growth

Supersets can lead to greater muscle fiber recruitment and metabolic stress, both of which contribute to enhanced muscle growth. If you’ve stopped progressing in the gym and can’t seem to set a new personal record with your standard lifts, train with supersets for six to 12 weeks. The increased challenge of performing back-to-back exercises will push your body’s limits and trigger increased muscular strength, size, and definition. Studies have even shown a possible link between supersets and increased testosterone production, which can help build more muscle.

Time Efficiency

One of the key benefits of supersets is the time efficiency they offer. Since you’re doing two exercises back-to-back, you can complete your workout in less time than if you were to rest between each set. This is helpful if you’re short on time or looking to make your workouts more intense.

Build Better Cardio Health

Supersetting keeps your heart beating faster for longer. This increased intensity can add a cardiovascular challenge to your lift, which improves your overall fitness. You will get the most cardio benefit from upper-lower supersets where you perform an upper body exercise (like pull-ups) followed by a lower body exercise (like squats).


Performing two exercises in a row forces your muscles to work harder and can result in a more challenging and interesting workout. If you’re bored with your current workout routine or losing interest, it’s a great idea to mix it up by adding supersets to your program. Pushing yourself with new challenges can keep you mentally engaged and passionate about your fitness journey.

3 Different Types of Supersets

There are several types of supersets you can incorporate into your training, each with their own benefits. The most common types of supersets are:

Antagonist Supersets

These involve performing two exercises that target opposing muscle groups, such as biceps and triceps or chest and back. This allows one muscle group to recover while you work the other, making it an efficient way to train. My first exposure to this method was when I worked with powerlifters who supersetted bench press and pull-ups for an intense chest-and-back workout.

Pre-Exhaustion Supersets

In a pre-exhaustion superset, you perform an isolation exercise followed by a compound exercise for the same muscle group. The idea is to fatigue the muscle with the isolation exercise and then push it even further with the compound exercise. So, you could begin your superset with barbell hack squats to isolate your quads, then immediately go into a set of squats for a quadriceps-building challenge.

Post-Exhaustion Supersets

Post-exhaustion supersets are the opposite of pre-exhaustion supersets. For this method, start with a compound exercise followed by an isolation exercise. This helps to fully exhaust the targeted muscle group. So, you could do push-ups to work your chest, shoulders, and triceps as part of a compound exercise. Then, after each set of push-ups perform a set of chest flyes to isolate and challenge your pectorals. This is my favorite type of superset and the one I add to programs most often.

How to Effectively Use Supersets in Your Training

To get the most out of supersets, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose complementary exercises: Make sure the exercises you choose for your superset target the same or opposing muscle groups to maximize the benefits.
  • Maintain proper form: It’s crucial to maintain proper form during both exercises in your superset to avoid injury and ensure you’re effectively targeting the right muscles.
  • Adjust your rest periods: While you should aim to minimize rest between exercises in a superset, you may need to rest for a short period if you’re unable to maintain proper form. Listen to your body and adjust as needed.

Although you will be doing back-to-back exercises for supersets, it’s still important to incorporate rest periods. For example, if you’re doing supersets of bench press and tricep extensions, perform your set of bench press. Then, immediately perform your set of tricep extensions. Once you’ve completed this superset, rest for 60 to 90 seconds. Repeat for a total of three to five supersets before you move to your next exercise.

Why Do People Do Supersets?

Supersets are often done to improve muscle strength, size, and definition by pushing muscle groups to their limit. Athletes on a tight schedule may use supersets simply to get a better workout in less time. Additionally, some lifters like to use supersets to build cardio as they lift weights, or to add variety to a stale routine. Whatever reason you choose, supersets have a variety of benefits for improving your workout results and getting more out of your time in the gym.

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