Supersets aren’t just another fitness buzzword. Here’s how to use the training style for building muscle and mixing up your workouts.
Simply deciding what workout to do is the first hurdle for those who are trying to get back into the gym after an exercise break (or even just after the bank holiday weekend).
Of course, many training techniques are best reserved for the exercise aficionados who like to get specific with their training (looking at you, muscle torque). But there are some that even general gym-goers or those who dabble in home workouts can benefit from making use of.
That includes supersets, the training technique which simply involves pairing two exercises back-to-back without rest. Not only does it save you time, but it also helps you to build muscle and endurance.
Sound like something you want to use in your training? Here’s how.
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The best superset exercises
There are two main ways to superset: using exercises that target the same muscles or using exercises that target different muscles. “I think that full-body supersets are great for people who are training two or three times a week as it means you hit multiple muscle groups in one session without spending hours in the gym. They also allow you to use relatively heavy weights without over fatiguing any individual muscles,” says strength coach Tess Glynne-Jones.
However, if you’re training more frequently, using same muscle supersets can cause more damage and therefore increase the speed at which you build muscle.
Glynne-Jones also notes that it’s best to avoid supersets if you’re training with heavy compound lifts. “Big lifts like squats or deadlifts will leave you very tired, especially if you’re working with very heavy weights. You won’t then be able to execute another exercise with good performance. In accessory work, or if you are training in a hypertrophy range, of eight-12 reps, you might be working with slightly lighter weights so supersets are useful. They can help you to get more volume in. That doesn’t meanthat you shouldn’t challenge with supersets – just choose the moves carefully,” she says.
The best superset workouts
Looking for some examples to take to the gym with you? Try these superset workouts. Perform eight-12 reps of the first exercise (usually the move that recruits the most muscles) before moving straight on to the second exercise (an isolation exercise), then rest for 60-90 seconds. Repeat for three sets, then move onto the next pair.
Same muscle supersets
Upper body push
These exercises target the chest, shoulders and triceps.
- Chest press X tricep extension
- Shoulder press X incline press
- Press up X tricep dips
Upper body pull
Use all of the muscles in your back and biceps with these moves.
- Bent over row X bicep curls
- Lat pull-down X reverse fly
- Seated row X hammer curls
Lower body squat
Move through the squat motions, one of the fundamental movement patterns, to target your quads, glutes and calves.
- Front squat X reverse lunges
- Split squat X cossack squat
- Goblet squat X pistol squat
Lower body hinge
Use the muscles in the back of your legs – your hamstrings and glutes.
- Hip thrust X Hamstring curl
- RDL X kettlebell swing
- Good morning X Glute bridge
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- Glute bridge X Renegade row
- Good mornings X Lat pull-down
- Romanian Deadlift X Reverse fly
- Press-ups X Goblet squat
- Bench press X Reverse lunges
- Shoulder press X Leg press
Want to learn how to do these moves? Sign up to the Training Club to view our How To videos.
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