Supersets in Strength Training

Doing two exercises back-to-back can make your workout more efficient

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A superset is a form of strength training in which you move quickly from one exercise to a different exercise without taking a break for rest between the two exercises. Typically, you will take a brief break to catch your breath or grab a drink of water between sets of an exercise.

This also gives time for the muscles to recover. But during supersets, you move from one set to another without a break. A shorter exercise session can lead to muscle, cardiac, and other health gains.

Superset Meaning

When people refer to a superset, they mean a set where two exercises are performed back to back before a rest period is taken. When doing a superset, you will do twice as much work with two exercises, but you will save time since you're only taking one rest period, if at all.

There are two main ways in which supersets can be performed, which include opposing muscle group supersets and same muscle group supersets. These two ways are quite different, and thus, their results vary greatly.

Benefits of Supersets

Supersets can be used as a way to do more exercises in a given length of time. While your muscles recover from one set, you perform another exercise rather than taking a break. You can switch back to the first exercise to perform another set and continue with that pattern until you need a break for a drink or recovery.

Supersets place an emphasis on stamina as well as ability, as the lack of a break between sets can be extremely challenging.

Doing Two Exercises Back-to-Back Can Make Your Workout More Efficient

Many people struggle to find time for exercise. Performing exercises back-to-back with no break can help improve the efficiency of the time you have to exercise.

According to a systematic review of studies, performing supersets of upper body and lower body exercises improved the efficiency of exercisers' workouts. You could do a set of squats, lunges, or wall sits followed immediately by tricep extensions, arm curls, or skull crushers.

Types of Supersets

In weight training, a set is a particular number of the same exercise performed consistently without stopping. Sets are comprised of repetitions (reps), which are individual performances of a single exercise. For example, if you do 10 bicep curls in a row, that is considered to be one set of 10 reps. Each of the 10 bicep curls performed is considered a rep.

A superset could be a set of 10 biceps curls followed by a set of 10 triceps extensions. It could also be a set of 10 pushups followed by a set of 10 dumbbell bench presses.

Opposing Muscle Group

One common form of a superset workout includes working two different areas of the body. For example, a common superset includes performing one upper body exercise (such as the bench press) and then immediately moving to a lower body exercise (such as the leg press).

Another easy method to plan supersets is to alternate with opposing muscle groups. You can combine the bench, which works the chest, with the seated row, which engages the back.

These supersets are very similar to a circuit training routine. Although supersets tend to focus on two exercises at a time, and circuit training routines often have up to 10 stations, both workouts require little rest between exercises.

Same Muscle Group

The second way to perform a superset workout is to choose two different exercises that work out the same muscle group and then execute them back to back without a rest. Performing quadriceps extensions immediately after squats is an example of this type of superset. This type of superset works one particular area especially hard. It is a great way to focus on a particular area of the body.

How to Add Supersets to Your Workout

If you want to start incorporating supersets into your workout routine, starting slowly is the key to avoiding injury or overworking your muscles, which will set back your entire workout routine. Start by working different muscle groups, for example, an upper body set followed immediately by a lower body set. You could also try working back muscles and chest muscles alternatingly. This will help ensure you don't overwork one muscle group.

Once you have an established base of fitness, you can do same muscle group supersets. An example of this would be performing box jumps and chair pose back-to-back. Both of these exercises work the quadriceps. You might feel more fatigue working the same muscle group in different ways back-to-back, so listen to your body and take breaks if you need to.

A Word From Verywell

If you are healing from injuries or have specific problems with pain in a particular area, speak with a healthcare provider before adding supersets to your workout regimen. The benefit of a more time-efficient workout isn't worth the risk of increasing injury.

But for those with a good fitness base and who aren't bothered by injuries, supersets are a way to make the most of your workout time. Working muscles back-to-back is a challenge, and it can be a confidence boost when you're successful.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a superset workout?

    A superset workout involves doing two or more sets of exercises back-to-back with no break. You can do sets of exercises that work opposing muscle groups, like the chest and the back, or sets of exercises that work muscle groups in the legs, followed immediately by exercises that work muscle groups in the arms.

  • Is it OK to superset every workout?

    Yes, it is OK to do supersets during every workout as long as you are doing them safely and effectively. Ask a healthcare professional or fitness trainer for advice if you aren't sure how to integrate supersets. If you do supersets incorrectly by, for example, working the same muscle group back to back, you are more prone to injury, which can slow you down in the long term.

  • Do supersets build muscles?

    Supersets build the same muscle as regular sets, but they can be completed in a shorter time. Doing supersets won't increase the amount of muscle growth more than doing those same exercises within standard sets. However, doing supersets can increase your stamina.

  • Are supersets good for beginners?

    If you're a beginner, you might want to focus more energy on ensuring you perform exercises correctly. Once you make sure your form is correct, supersets can help you exercise in a more time-efficient manner.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Realzola RA, Mang ZA, Millender DJ, et al. Metabolic Profile of Reciprocal Supersets in Young, Recreationally Active Women and MenJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2021;Publish Ahead of Print. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000003920

  2. Krzysztofik M, Wilk M, Wojdała G, Gołaś A. Maximizing muscle hypertrophy: a systematic review of advanced resistance training techniques and methods. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(24):4897. doi:10.3390/ijerph16244897

By Elizabeth Quinn
Elizabeth Quinn is an exercise physiologist, sports medicine writer, and fitness consultant for corporate wellness and rehabilitation clinics.