Workout Routines

The smart superset workout program

Get double the impact with the superset approach in this classic two-day body building routine.

Man Lifts Barbell Weight During Training Session
Getty Images/David Rogers
Getty Images/David Rogers
Duration 30-45
Exercises 7
Equipment Yes

The classic bodybuilding superset—two exercises done back-to-back for the same muscle group, with no rest in between—is one of the most commonly used techniques in any gym. Unfortunately, it’s probably the most misused, too. This month, learn to pair up exercises properly so you build muscle and shred fat without compromising your workout. Best of all, you’ll see results in as little as four weeks.

How it works

Supersetting two exercises for the same body part is flat-out exhausting. Imagine doing a barbell bench press and then dips right afterward. You might feel pumped up and strong after the first round, but midway through the second, your intensity will drop off, and you won’t be able to use the same weights or get the same number of reps.

That’s the danger of supersetting: burning out too fast, thereby reducing the overall quality of your workout.

Still, there’s value in working a muscle one way, then hitting it another way before it can fully recover; in fact, it’s a favorite technique of bodybuilders who want to add size fast. The trick is to combine a more challenging compound move with an easier isolation lift. If you do dumbbell bench presses then flyes, for example, your strength won’t be as compromised on the flyes because you have to go lighter anyway: Isolation lifts are meant to be done light and less explosively. This also means you won’t be too smoked to give the bench presses your all when you return to them on the next round.

Use supersets the smart way and you’ll not only send your muscles the message to grow, you’ll give them the means to do it.

Directions

Alternate the workouts (Day I and Day II) for three total sessions per week. So you’ll do Day I twice in Week 1 and Day II twice in Week 2. Exercises marked “A” and “B” are done without rest in between (superset). Afterward, rest 90 seconds, and repeat for the prescribed number of sets. Complete all sets for one group before going on to the next. Exercise 4 on both days is done as straight sets. Choose loads to start with that allow you two reps more than the target number, and note that you still may need to decrease the load on subsequent sets.

Day I Chest, thighs, and back

Exercise 1A.

Dumbbell Bench Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Bench Press thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Dummbbell Flye You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Flye thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 2A.

Goblet Squat You'll need: Kettlebells How to
Goblet Squat thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 2B.

Leg Extension How to
Leg Extension thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3A.

Chest-Supported Row How to
Chest-Supported Row thumbnail
3 sets
10 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 3B.

Pullover/Triceps Extension You'll need: Barbell How to
Pullover/Triceps Extension  thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Plank You'll need: No Equipment How to
Plank thumbnail
2 sets
Hold as long as possible. reps
45 sec. rest

Day II Hamstrings, shoulders, and arms

Exercise 1A.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift  thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 1B.

Leg Curl You'll need: Swiss Ball How to
Leg Curl  thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 2A.

Dumbbell Overhead Press You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Dumbbell Overhead Press  thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 2B.

Lateral Raise You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Lateral Raise thumbnail
3 sets
10-12 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 3A.

EZ-Bar Curl You'll need: EZ-Bar How to
EZ-Bar Curl thumbnail
3 sets
8 reps
0 sec. rest

Exercise 3B.

Dumbbell Kickback You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Underhand Kickback  thumbnail
3 sets
12-15 reps
120 sec. rest

Exercise 4.

Side Plank You'll need: Medicine Ball How to
Side Plank thumbnail
2 sets
Hold as long as possible (each side) reps
45 sec. rest
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