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What Is a Superset? Everything You Need to Know

Whether you’re a beginner in the gym or you’re a seasoned fitness guru, there comes a point when we all try to find something to make our workout sessions a little more challenging. 

In this guide, we’ll outline everything you need to know about them – from answering questions like “what is a superset” to explaining the different types and suggest exercises to try out. 

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What Is a Superset?

In a typical workout set, you’ll complete one set of one specific exercise. Then, you may take a short rest before doing another set of the same exercise. 

However, with a superset, you’ll perform two different exercises back-to-back before taking your brief rest. That means you’ll do double the amount of work since you’re doing two back-to-back exercises. 

Benefits of Supersets 

  • Time efficient: Typically, exercise sets involve shorter but more frequent rest periods, which can accumulate into considerable downtime. However, supersets eliminate these breaks, resulting in a faster and more efficient workout.
  • Twice the results:  The good thing about supersets is that they allow you to get twice the amount of work in before you rest. Ultimately, that leads to a better use of your time – which is great if you have a packed schedule. 
  • More calories burned: The less amount of downtime between exercises means you’re working your body more throughout the workout and in turn burning more calories! 

Types of Supersets

Supersets are generally structured in a couple of different ways, depending on the type and what you want to use them for (your fitness goals).

Usually, that means the supersets incorporate two exercises that target the same muscle group or they target opposing muscle groups. 

These are the most common types of supersets: 

Compound Supersets

Compound exercises are two movements that target the same muscle group. When you do this, the targeted muscle group has more time under tension. That’s how you sculpt your muscles and your body. 

Some compound superset exercise examples include: 

  • Chest press paired with a chest fly
  • Deadlift paired with a squat
  • Triceps kickback paired with an overhead triceps extension

Push-Pull Supersets

Push-pull supersets are considered “true supersets” since they target two opposing muscle groups. This type of superset is also called an antagonist superset, as it works antagonist muscles. This is great if muscle growth and strength are your primary fitness goals. 

They’re also great for reducing your overall workout time since you won’t have to rely on as many breaks. Because you’re targeting two different muscle groups, one group gets to rest while you’re performing the other exercise. By the time you switch, the original muscle group has already had its rest to be able to properly perform the sets and reps. 

Some push-pull superset exercise examples include:

  • Barbell overhead press paired with pullups
  • Bench press paired with barbell rows
  • Quadricep extension paired with hamstring curls

Upper-Lower Body Supersets

Finally, we have the upper-lower supersets. This simply means performing an upper body exercise and following it with a lower body exercise. 

Doing this type of superset is a way to get a mini HIIT workout into your overall routine. 

And if you’re looking for a full body workout at the gym, then incorporating upper-lower supersets into your workout is ideal!

How to Use Supersets In Your Workout

Like most other types of exercises and workouts, the way you use supersets in your routine depends heavily on your fitness goals. That can help determine what type of supersets you focus on and what exercises you perform within supersets. 

The key is to determine what your goals are, then tailor the supersets to target those goals. 

For Weight Loss or Fat Burning Goals

A superset that’s targeting weight loss by burning fat usually involves one lower body exercise and one upper body exercise. This can also be considered circuit training, instead of a true superset. Many HIIT workouts incorporate circuit training into the routine. 

For Strengthening

If your overall goal is to build strength, then a true superset pair is the ideal way to use supersets in your workout. This means that you’re using two exercises that work opposing muscle groups. 

To strengthen your muscles overall, your two superset exercises would target a muscle group in the front of your body and a muscle group in the back. For example, one superset may include a bicep curl and a tricep kickback. 

For Muscle Shaping and Building

If you’re further along in your fitness journey or if you’re an advanced gym-goer and are looking for ways to progress, then you may want to consider specific supersets to shape your muscles. 

Doing so involves completing two exercises that target the same muscle group. It requires more time under tension, which often involves a higher intensity for that muscle group. The end result is more muscle definition, which is how the muscle looks rather than how strong it is. 

What Exercises Are Great for Supersets?

There are so many different exercises and movements that you can add into your workout routine. In fact, there are so many that it can feel overwhelming trying to determine which ones to incorporate to your supersets. 

We’ve narrowed it down to help you piece together your own superset workouts: 

Horizontal Push

Common horizontal pushing exercises include: 

  • Barbell bench press
  • Dumbbell bench press
  • Push ups
  • Seated chest press
  • TRX push ups

Horizontal pull

Horizontal pull exercises involve moving weights toward your torso horizontally. That includes any exercise that you’re pulling the weight into your body. 

Common horizontal pulling exercises include: 

  • Barbell rows
  • Bent over rows
  • Dumbbell rows
  • Seated rows / seated cable rows
  • TRX rows

Vertical push

Similar to horizontal push exercises, vertical push exercises also involve pushing weights away from the body. However, these exercises involve moving the weights up or down (rather than straight in front and back). 

Common vertical pushing exercises include: 

  • Barbell overhead press
  • Dumbbell overhead press
  • Front raises
  • Lateral raises
  • Seated military press
  • Shoulder press machine
  • Standing overhead shoulder press

Vertical pull

Again, similar to horizontal pulling exercises, vertical pull exercises involve pulling weight toward the body. But just like with vertical pushing exercises, these types use an up and down motion. 

Common exercises include: 

  • Cable pulldowns
  • Chinups
  • Lat pulldowns
  • Pullups
  • Reverse grip lat pulldowns

What To Avoid When Incorporating Supersets In a Workout Routine?

Just like with any other type of exercise or workout, there is an inherent risk when it comes to incorporating supersets into your fitness routine. That said, supersets are generally safe, as long as you’re mindful of injury prevention. 

Overloading your weights 

Overloading your weights, or lifting weights that are too heavy for your current fitness level, is a leading cause of injury. It puts unnecessary strain on your muscles which can result in sprains, strains, or tears. 

Be cautious when selecting weights, and allow yourself to decrease the resistance if necessary. 

Ignoring fatigue

Fatigue from your overall workout is one of the biggest causes of injuries because it often results in improper form. Always make sure that you’re paying attention to your exhaustion level. Allow your weight and resistance training to be flexible so you can scale back on weights, sets, and reps if you begin to get too tired. 

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Supersets:

How an Aura Gym Membership Help!

Whether you want individualised attention and a specific workout plan for you (through a personal trainer or fitness professional), or you just need a great place to complete your superset workouts – Aura Leisure gyms are perfect for you! 

Between gym facilities that have all of the equipment necessary and programmes to help you reach your fitness goals.