The Ultimate Guide to Supersets: Why and How You Should Use Them

The Ultimate Guide to Supersets: Why and How You Should Use Them
When it comes to building mass, stripping fat, and getting an incredible pump, supersets are one of the most effective tools in your training toolbox – when they are used correctly, that is
You see, supersets can actually be used in a myriad of different ways, depending entirely on your individual training goal. With this in mind, they are going to be programmed differently within your training sessions dependent on that goal, and how you choose to structure your training split
So Why Use Super sets
Well, the way I see it, there are three key reasons to use supersets in your training
They Save You Time
As you move from a beginner to an intermediate lifter, and then from an intermediate to advanced lifter, you are going to need more and more weekly volume to elicit any muscle growth. In short, this means more sets and reps per session
As supersets involve moving from one exercise immediately to another, you can squeeze more volume into a session without having to be at the gym for hours at a time
They Improve Muscle Activation
There are a number of different ways you can implement super sets in your training (which are described in detail below). No matter how they are used, they generally improve muscle activation in a big way
As they involve moving from one exercise immediately to another, the first exercise ‘pre-activates’ the muscle tissue, increasing neural drive and muscle fiber recruitment. This means that you are going to get more out of the second exercise, causing a substantial increase in muscle growth over time
They Cause a Heap of Metabolic Stress
And finally, supersets also cause a huge spike in metabolic stress within the muscle tissue. Because a superset involves performing two exercises in quick succession, it essentially doubles the amount of volume you would normally receive in a very short time window
As a result, you see a huge spike in metabolite accumulation (not to mention an insane pump) within the muscle tissue, which has been shown to be a key driver for enhanced muscle growth
How Can I Use Supersets in Training
When it comes to supersets, there are three ways I like to implement them into my training. This is highly dependent on training goal (as we discussed earlier), while also being dependent on how you choose to structure your training program
Antagonist Muscle Supersets
When it comes to supersets, these are arguably the most common
With antagonist muscle supersets, you actually choose two exercises that work muscle groups with opposing muscle actions (or in other words, are antagonistic to one another), and perform one immediately after the other before taking your rest period
These are absolutely perfect for those of you who like to split your training into upper body and lower body training days. With this in mind, they are obviously extremely time efficient while also allowing a massive increase in session volume, therefore stimulating muscle growth while enhancing fat loss
Additionally, they also have some serious positives regarding muscle activation
You see, if we choose to perform a heavy dumbbell row before a barbell bench press, we pre-activate all the muscles of the upper back. As these muscles are essential to shoulder stability and function, we can actually improve our ability to produce force when we move into the bench press
This means a stronger bench, more weight on the bar, and more muscle growth
Some of my favorite antagonist muscle supersets are as follows
A: Single Arm DB Row
B: Barbell Bench Press
A: Dumbbell Bench Press
B: Wide Grip Lat Pull Down
A: Seated Row
B: Seated DB Shoulder Press
With each of these it is important to note that they prioritize large compound movements, each of which use a heap of muscle mass. This makes them extremely effective from an energy expenditure standpoint, while also promoting even greater metabolic stress
This is extremely important as it promotes increased growth hormone secretion during the session, further enhancing both muscle growth and fat loss
Pre-Exhaust Supersets
When it comes to getting an absurd pump, causing a huge increase in metabolic stress, and completely crushing your ego, these are without a doubt your best option
Pre-exhaust supersets involve performing an isolation exercise on a given muscle group, and then immediately moving into a compound exercise that uses that same muscle group
This obviously makes the compound movement much more challenging, offers an extremely efficient way to jack up metabolic damage, and subsequently causes a huge increase in muscle growth
Some of my favorites (read: most brutal) include
A: Incline DB Fly
B: Flat DB Bench Press
A: Knee Extension
B: Front Squat
A: Lateral Raise
B: Seated Arnold Press
A: Hamstring Curl
B: Romanian deadlift
Now obviously these lend themselves quite well to body part splits. I also strongly recommend you use them near the tail end of your session, after you have done your heaviest exercises – because trust me, you are not going to be doing much after these
Post-Exhaust Supersets
And our final option is a post-exhaust superset. These are essentially the exact opposite of a pre-exhaust superset, as you will be moving from a compound movement into an isolation movement that targets the same muscle group
Similar to the above, this is a great way to increase metabolic stress, get an epic pump, and promote an increase in muscle growth. Some of my favorites include
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A: Barbell Bench Press

B: Flat DB Fly

A: Leg Press

B: Knee Extension

A: Standing Overhead Press

B: Seated Lateral Raise

A: Conventional Deadlift

B: Hamstring Curl

Now similar to the above, these lend themselves very well to a body part split, but can alternatively be used at any point during the session – start or end. Just be prepared to push through some discomfort to reap the rewards

Take Away Message

When it comes to increasing your weekly training volume, inducing a heap of metabolic stress, and enhancing your training time, it’s hard to look past supersets. They offer an excellent tool to maximize all three of these factors, stimulating a huge amount of muscle growth and fat loss at the same time

Have a go at some of the methods listed in this article and let us know how you went – just be prepared to get a little uncomfortable

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