Superset Workouts: What Are They and Are They Effective?

Superset: bent-over barbell row followed immediately by rear delt fly

Are you an avid gym-goer and looking for an edge? Superset workouts might just be the answer you’re after. Made popular by Joe Weider (the father of bodybuilding), this style of training is used in gyms around the world for people looking to pack on lean muscle and shred fat.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of superset workouts, including what it is and how you can do it. We’ll also uncover both the pros and the cons of this training style and help you get started. Let’s dive in!

What Is a Superset?

When someone says that they are completing a superset workout, they are referring to completing back-to-back exercises. For example, a superset could look like 12 repetitions of bench press immediately followed by 20 reps of flat bench chest flys. Only after you’re finished the two consecutive exercises can you rest.

This style of training can be used for basically every body part whether you’re looking to pack on muscle or shred away body fat.

Man doing superset exercises

How to Do Supersets

Typically, a superset consists of one compound exercise and an accessory exercise. This could look like a bent-over barbell row followed immediately by rear delt flys. The options are endless so get creative with your supersets.

The rep and set schemes can vary as well. If you’re looking to add muscle, you’ll want to stay within the 10-15 rep range, and for strength, 6-12 reps will do. The trick when completing supersets is to choose exercises that encompass the major muscles for the workout. For example, if you’re working out your chest and triceps today, the exercises you choose should only target these muscle groups.

Superset: bent-over barbell row followed immediately by rear delt fly

The Pros of Superset Workouts

Trying Something New Has Its Benefits

I feel it’s fair to say that most people get caught up completing the same exercise routines for months simply out of habit. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to change up your routine and training style. Trying something new is more beneficial than you may think!

If you haven’t tried supersets yet, think about all the gains that can be made simply by trying something new. The body adapts fast to exercise programs so make sure you’re spicing things up now and then.

Happy at the gym

Supersets Will Save You Time

Who here likes to spend hours in the gym? One of the biggest benefits of superset workouts is the time you will save. Since you are completing two exercises back to back, you are saving a heap of time compared to completing 3-4 sets of an exercise and then moving onto the next.

Further, typically rest breaks are shorter making the workouts more intense. This means you usually burn more calories too. What’s not to love?

Man checking his watch at the gym

The Cons of Superset Workouts

Muscle Break Down

When you complete two exercises back to back with little to no rest in between transitions, you’re going to break down a lot more muscle tissue. Yes, this is a good thing when you’re trying to build muscle and shed fat. However, doing this may require an additional recovery day as you’re likely to experience more muscle soreness.

When first starting with supersets, make sure to add in one to two recovery days each week. Don’t be afraid to add in an extra recovery day if you’re feeling really sore!

Sore muscles

Supersets Require More Equipment

Superset exercises will require two different pieces of equipment or at least a couple of different weights depending on the exercises that you choose. If you’re working out in a busy gym, collecting equipment at your station will likely make you the least popular person in the facility.

If you’re going to try superset workouts, try your best to go to the gym during off-peak hours to ensure you can access all the equipment you need to have a great workout. Or at the very least, only take what you need.

Gym equipment

Should You Try It?

So the question is, should you try it? Superset workouts are likely the missing piece to your workout program that you must try. Regardless of your fitness goals, it’s best to switch up your training style and workouts every couple of months to prevent your body from adapting and plateauing.

Another great tip is to remember progressive overload. This is the principle that means as your body adapts to the amount of weight you’re lifting, you should start increasing the number of reps and sets you complete. This is how you continue to make progress and chase down your fitness goals.

Couple high-fiving at the gym

Getting Started

It’s time to put pen to paper and plan out your first superset workout. Pick your favorite body parts to train, such as chest and triceps, and choose two exercises that focus on these muscles and there’s your superset! Next, choose your desired set and rep count, and then it’s time to hit the gym and give it a try for yourself.

If you’re still unsure about supersets, book an appointment with a personal trainer. They can walk you through the exercises and ensure you’re completing them with proper form. Good luck!

Personal trainer

Eric Leckie, PT

Eric Leckie, PT

Eric Leckie is a men's health Physiotherapist specializing in prostate cancer treatment. He completed his studies in Australia earning his Doctor of Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. He currently works in a private practice, in addition to owning his own Telehealth Physiotherapy clinic which focuses on treating men with prostate cancer.

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