There are all sorts of variations when it comes to how one performs an exercise. We’ve all heard of reps and sets, the usual. On the other hand, there is something people like to call “superset”. A superset is a form or method of strength training too, but it is usually done by intermediate and advanced fitness practitioners.
A superset can virtually be understood as a set comprised of two sets. One superset contains two exercises which you perform one after another, or in other words, without a proper resting period in between the two.
Example of a superset
Let’s provide an example of a superset.
It’s arm day and you want to work on your biceps and triceps. Perfect! Choose two exercises that you like for each muscle group – let’s say barbell curl (biceps) and rope pulldown (triceps). You may start with the rope pulldown first. Perform a set of 12 reps and as soon as you finish go straight for the set of barbell curls. Again, do 12 reps, but this time you’re working on your biceps. When you finish your superset is complete.
Now, this is just one example. The number of both reps and exercises is yours to choose from. Although, there are some recommendations. Try not to perform supersets for the same muscle group since that will stress out your muscles. Rather, implement supersets for adjacent muscle groups as we did in our example or the “agonist-antagonist” muscle pairs. The agonist muscle is the one doing the work and antagonist is the one relaxing or lengthening. It can be one set for biceps plus one set for triceps. One set for hamstrings plus one set for quads and so forth.
What’s the point?
Having a superset or two during your workout has shown more results in efficacy and volume when compared to some of the more traditional training methods. Why? First, you do more in a shorter period of time. Second, once a part of your body is fatigued, all the other parts will succumb to fatigue quicker than they would otherwise.
Besides, there is a strong reason why most people go for supersets – to squeeze in the most out of their workout in the shortest period of time. Supersets are lifesavers for those in a hurry.
If you want to save up on time and build muscle simultaneously, you will eventually come across supersets. Not only that, but you might also build entire workout plans based solely on supersets. There are such programs and they work well.
Things to watch out for
Why combine two sets into one? Sounds like an overkill, doesn’t it? Well, it depends on a couple of things.
It can be an overkill. If you take up two or even more exercises for the same muscle group without having a few minutes of rest (usually around 3) you might be overperforming. Your muscles won’t have the time necessary to recover. You will feel a pump most likely, but pumps don’t show long-term results.
Even if you decide to do a superset in the same fashion we advised, you should consider having a short resting period ranging anywhere between 30 seconds and one minute. Especially if you feel like you can’t catch up with the pace. That is an obvious sign that you need to slow down.
The exercises will be arduous to follow if you decide to go heavy. Be considerate of the amount of work you put on yourself since you want to perform both of the exercises correctly, not just one of them. These are the common mistakes people make when trying out supersets.
To finish the topic
Supersets are one heck of a bodybuilding tool. I think we can all agree on that point.
If used wisely you are basically using a shortcut to some massive gains. However, be aware of all the possible downsides we’ve mentioned too. Don’t underestimate the possibility of completely depleting your body. Many people struggle to find results because they believe they had enough rest even though they weren’t even close to it. Muscle tissue needs time to recover so be patient!
Have an amazing superset next time you go for your workout and as always,
Thank you for reading.