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Supersets involve the pairing of two exercises back-to-back, with little or no rest between them. This can be done with exercises for the same muscle group or exercises for different muscle groups. With the latter, it’s usually advised to pair opposing muscle groups such as biceps and triceps. Supersetting opposing muscle groups, as you’ll do in the following program, has several benefits.
Research shows that a muscle’s contractions will be stronger and more powerful if preceded by contractions of its antagonist (opposing) muscle group. For example, when you do a super- set of barbell rows followed by bench presses, you’ll be stronger on the bench. University of Wisconsin-Parkside researchers found that when subjects did a six-second isometric leg curl to fatigue the hamstrings before doing a vertical jump, quadriceps force production was increased by almost 15% compared to jumping without the preceding leg curls.
One study from Syracuse University found that when subjects performed supersets for chest and back, biceps and triceps, and quads and hamstrings, they burned 35% more calories both during and after the workout than they did when they performed straight sets. The key point here is the post-workout effect. There are only so many calories you can burn in one 60–90-minute workout; but a 35% increase in the hours after your workout can really add up. It’s the same reason why HIIT out-performs steady-state cardio for fat burning.
When was the last time you focused on your tibialis anterior muscle or your lower traps? We’re guessing never. A comprehensive superset program not only helps bring up these weaker muscle groups, it also restores balance.
You’ll be able to complete way more sets in less time by supersetting. Depending on the workout, you’ll be doing 40–50 total sets, which would normally take well over two hours using straight sets. In this program, it will only require 60–90 minutes.
Variety is critical in making continued progress in the gym. And we’re not just talking about the change that supersets provide; there’s also the change in your training split. Here, you’ll train each muscle group twice a week.