Intermediate Workout Principle: Supersets

Whether you're simply looking to save time on your workouts so you can get in and out of the gym faster when you're in a hurry or are looking to add some additional intensity to the mix, supersets are a great way to do this. 

Supersets are a technique that has been used by many trainers for years and for good reason – they get results.  They offer a number of positive benefits including an increased release of growth hormone in the body, a greater impact on the metabolic rate, as well as a superior job at increasing the muscles ability to tolerate fatigue.

Whether you're looking to get larger, get stronger, get leaner, or improve your sports performance, supersets can help.  This is not a technique for the beginner however, so it's important that you have a good six months to a year of training underneath your belt before moving forwards.

Here's a brief run-down of what supersets are all about.


The Structure of Supersets

When performing a superset, what you're going to want to do is perform two exercises back to back with little or no rest in between.  Rather than doing all your straight sets of one exercise, taking thirty seconds to a minute rest in between sets and then moving onto the next exercise in your program plan, you're instead going to perform one set of one exercise, move directly into performing a set of another exercise, and then take your rest period after that.

Once that rest period is completed, then you restart with the first exercise again to do your second cycle through the superset.  You continue in this fashion until all the sets you're aiming for have been completed and you're ready to move on.


Choosing Exercises For Supersets

Usually when most people perform supersets they are going to choose two isolated muscle groups that directly oppose each other.  So for example you may do a bicep exercise followed immediately by a tricep exercise.  Or, you may do a pushing chest exercise (bench press for instance) followed by a back pulling exercise (horizontal row).

Pairing these antagonistic muscles together like this allows one muscle to work while the other rests letting you to go back and forth between them better.  Had you attempted to pair an exercise such as chest press with a tricep movement, this would be much more difficult because the triceps are being worked in the chest exercise (assuming it's not a direct chest exercise such as pec fly's).

While you can certainly do this, it's going to be working the body in a different way than what the traditional superset calls for.


Working Supersets Into Your Program Plan

If you've decided that you do want to work supersets into your program plan, then you're best off aiming to perform these slightly later in the workout after you've gotten your compound exercises out of the way.

This ensures that you are able to maintain the normal heavy lifting that you would like with the compound exercises and then can push yourself hard and finish off the training at the end of the workout.

So if you're looking for that little extra something to add during your workouts and take results to the next level, be sure to keep supersets in mind.  They are a very fast and effective technique when used properly and one that almost everyone will benefit from.