Supersets involve performing two different exercises back-to-back with little or no rest in between. There are typically two key variations of this resistance training system.
- Supersetting exercises of the same muscle or muscle group
- Supersetting agonist and antagonist exercises
- Supersetting upper and lower body exercises
- Supersetting exercises to create one exercise that targets the whole body
This variation of supersetting involves performing two exercises for the same muscle back-to-back.
Check out this example of an agonist superset for the glutes and quads
This sequence can be repeated following a standard rest interval depending on the client’s goal.
The second exercise in each superset is performed with significant muscular fatigue present. As a result of this fatigue the intensity of the second exercise is always much lower than if the muscle had been allowed to recover during a standard rest interval. Therefore, agonist supersetting is not very effective for maximal force development (strength training).
However, completing two exercises in this manner would be good for local muscular endurance and possibly hypertrophy because the volume of work performed is relatively high (note that a hypertrophic response would be most likely if the initial set were performed within the hypertrophy repetition range of 6-12-reps).
The second variation of supersetting consists of performing two exercises back-to-back that involve antagonistic muscle pairs i.e. biceps brachii and triceps brachii or quadriceps and hamstrings.
This version of supersetting allows a significant load to be placed on the target muscle during each set. This is possible because while the agonist is working the antagonist is recovering and vice versa. This allows more intensity to be utilised as each set is performed from a relatively rested state.
Check out this example of an antagonist superset for the arms
Peripheral heart action (PHA) supersetting involves performing one exercise for the upper body and one exercise for the lower body back-to-back. Which also gives the client an additional cardio workout.
Check out this example of a PHA superset
Combination supersetting is where you take two different exercises and merge them into one. This allows targeting even more muscles in one exercise. Be mindful that this will increase the demand on the heart and lungs also so would not be the preferred training technique for strength or hypertrophy.
Check out this example of a combination superset
Learn more about these advanced resistance training systems and how to instruct them by enrolling on our level 3 diploma in personal training.