5 Types of Supersets and When to Use Them

There are a few different types of supersets — which is right for your goals?

Who doesn’t love supersets?

You can pair almost any two exercises together to build muscle, lose fat or bring up a lagging body part. Not only that, you’ll do more work in less time and hit the showers early while the gym bunnies are busy taking their Instagram selfies.

If supersets are not a part of your routine, it’s definitely worth putting them in because your results are waiting.

Here is the lowdown on supersets and why they should be a regular part of your training.

pushup
Shutterstock / prostock-studio

Advantages of Supersets

  • Increase the efficiency of your training because you’re reducing the rest intervals between exercises. (Just make sure you have all the equipment you need beforehand.)
  • Having reduced rest periods will increase intensity of your training by performing more work in less time.
  • Great for bringing up a lagging body part and for building muscle.

However, supersets aren’t meant for every goal.

Disadvantages of Supersets

  • In some scenarios, an increase in intensity can lead to a drop in performance and compromised technique.
  • It’s difficult to juggle different weights for different exercises. Monopolizing the equipment in a busy gym may lead you to being unpopular.
  • As good as the they are for hypertrophy and fat loss, they’re not the most ideal way to build strength.
Berkomaster/Shutterstock

5 Superset Types With Training Examples

The types of supersets you use depend on your current goals, whether you’re a beginner or advanced trainee, and on how much time you have to train. Here are 5 superset types that you can use right now to take your training to the next level.

1. Post-Exhaustion Supersets

This takes muscle discomfort to a new level. You combine a compound exercise with an isolation exercise afterwards to exhaust all the muscle fibers in a certain muscle group.

Why: Ideal for bringing up a lagging body part. However, make sure the compound move trains the muscle you’re going to isolate.

Quads

1A. Squat variation

1B. Leg extensions 12-20 reps

Hamstrings

1A. Hip hinge variation

1B. Stability ball hamstring curl 12-15 reps

Chin-Up Guide

Biceps

1A. Chin up variation

1B. Zottman curl 10-15 reps

Triceps

1A. Diamond push-ups

1B. Overhead triceps extensions 12-20 reps

Note: The isolation move can be done first to change things up.

Dumbbell Bench Press Ultimate Guide
Dumbbell Bench Press Ultimate Guide

2. Compound Supersets

This is an advanced method because heavier weights are being used in both exercises on the same body part, which can lead to muscular fatigue and drop in performance and technique.

Why: However, these are great for hypertrophy, if you can stand the pain.

Chest

1A. Barbell bench variation

1B. Single arm bench press

Back

1A. Pull ups

1B. Single arm seated row

Goblet Squat Guide

Legs: Squat Focus

1A. Barbell squat variation 3-6 reps

1B. Dumbbell jump squats (use 10-25% of your body weight) 3- 6 reps

Legs: Hinge Focus

1A. Romanian deadlift

1B. Barbell hip extensions

3. Isolation Supersets

You can save time because you’re working a smaller muscle group in the (almost) same amount of time as you’d spend doing a standard lift-rest scheme, plus all the focus is on one muscle group, helping you feel the burn.

Why: Great for bringing up a lagging body part or a weaker muscle that could be hindering your performance in a compound exercise. For example, weaker triceps hindering lockout in the bench press.

Barbell-Curl-Exercise-Guide-Flex-at-Top-1024x768

Biceps

1A. Incline biceps curl

1B. Concentration curl

Shoulders

1A. Lateral raise variation

1B. Band pull aparts (high reps)

Tricep Pushdown
BLACKDAY / Shutterstock

Triceps

1A. Triceps (rope) pulldown

1B. Skull crushers

Glutes

1A. Single leg hip extensions

1B. Lateral band walk

4. Lower/Upper Body Supersets

Relatively speaking, this is the least taxing of all the techniques listed so far because you’re working two completely unrelated muscle groups. These are great for full rest and recovery of a muscle group and for full body workouts when time is an issue.

Why: These are best used for full body workouts or full body splits and are ideal for beginner trainees and fat loss.

Upper and Lower Push

1A. Squat variation

1B. Barbell bench press

Lower Push + Upper Pull

1A. Barbell squat variation

1B. Chin ups

Lower and Upper Push

1A. Barbell hip thrust

1B. Floor press

Upper Push + Pull

1A. Barbell push press

1B. Chin ups

squat barbell
sportpoint/Shutterstock

5. Strength and Mobility Supersets 

A strength exercise done for heavier weight and lower reps combined with a mobility exercise to help improve your technique and recovery.

Back Strength + Hip Mobility

1A. Deadlift variation

1B. Hip flexor mobilization

Shoulder Strength + Forearm Mobility

1A. Shoulder press variation

1B. Forearm wall slides

Leg Strength + Ankle Mobility

1A. Barbell squat variation

1B. Rocking ankle mobilization

Chest Strength + Mid-Back Mobility

1A. Barbell bench press

1B. Thoracic extensions

Wrapping up

Supersets are an efficient way to train and are used in a many ways to match your goals. Pair exercises wisely for great results and enjoy the extra time you’ll save.

Featured image via prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Shane McLean

Shane McLean

Shane McLean is a Certified Personal Trainer who’s worked with a wide variety of clients, from the general population client all the way to ex-Navy seals and college athletes.

Shane is a big believer in seeing exercise as a gift for the body and never a punishment — exercise should be as enjoyable as possible and never just a “work” out.

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