What are supersets?
A superset is when you perform two exercises back-to-back with little to no rest between exercises. Supersets have many uses in a gym and in this article we will provide the benefits of supersets, best exercises to superset and show you how to correctly perform supersets.
Supersets are created in workouts in a variety of ways depending on the coach. These mean the same thing but you should be aware of these if you train in different facilities or work under the guidance of multiple coaches.
A1 and A2, 1 & 2 and A/B are the three most common ways to dictate that certain exercises should be used as supersets.
Benefits of supersets
Three benefits of using supersets in your workouts are
- Shorter duration workouts
- Higher intensity training and
- Variety in your workouts
Shorter duration workouts with supersets
The typical rest time for strength training ranges from 30 seconds up to three minutes. That can be a lot of time waiting around in a gym. When implementing supersets for part or all of your workout the total session duration is drastically reduced due to the elimination of rest times between sets and exercises.
Higher intensity training
Supersetting exercises will increase some demands, giving a higher effort level and increased heart rate throughout a workout. You’ll perform more work in less time. You may notice a decrease in how much weight you can lift for certain exercises due to fatigue. However, this adjustment should be short-term as you begin to get used to this style of training after a few sessions.
Variety in your workouts
The principle of adaptation refers to the process of the body getting used to a particular exercise or training program through repeated exposure. If you’ve been following the same program for a long time you may have noticed the results just don’t seem the same as they were in the past.
You should change your workouts every four to six weeks to avoid hitting a plateau. For a simple change and without overhauling your entire program, consider using supersets for some or all exercises and you should continue to make progress.
Best exercises to superset
Supersets can be used for increasing sport performance, increasing strength or aiding in fat loss. Each goal determines the best exercises to superset.
While some Crossfit workouts recommend using barbell exercises to superset we would not recommend this due to the increased risk of injury due to excessive fatigue.
In my experience as a coach I have found that the best exercises to superset typically involve
- Moving from a complex to simple exercise
- Moving from a dumbbell to a bodyweight exercise or
- Moving from a heavy to a light exercise
Demonstrations of ALL of the following exercises can be found on our YouTube Channel.
Sport performance supersets
- Hex bar deadlifts to box jumps
- Box squat to repeat dumbbell squat jumps
- Dumbbell incline alternate press to ring rows
Best supersets to increase strength
- Dumbbell push press to bench band reverse flyes
- Rear foot elevated split squat to goblet squat
- Dumbbell press to band pull apart
Weight loss supersets
- Landmine squats to medicine ball slams
- Kettlebell swings to dumbbell push press
- 1.5’s goblet squat to rotational medicine ball throws
Final Tips for Supersets
Supersets can form part or all of your workout depending on your training goals. When using supersets make sure to time your rest between sets and exercises – try to keep this consistent over time.
If supersets are new for you, keep in mind that you might need to temporarily decrease the amount of weight used for each exercise until you become accustomed to this new style of training.