Supersetting is when you pair up exercises with no rest period in between, or the same rest period you would use for a single exercise. This is typically performed with two complementary exercises that use opposite muscle groups, though they can also be used to exhaust a single muscle group.
For example, pairing triceps pushdowns (isolated triceps movement) with lateral raises (focuses on the deltoid – e.g. shoulders), followed by a rest period of 45 seconds.
But is supersetting always worth it? When isn’t it a good idea to superset? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of supersetting.
Pros and Cons of Supersetting
- Burn more calories – when you superset your exercises you keep your heart rate up and increase your period of effort – instead of doing 12 reps and resting, you’ll do 12 and immediately do another 12 of another exercise.
- Saves time – only got half an hour to do your workout? Just superset!
- Increased results – want to make sure you can barely use your legs tomorrow? Pair exercises that work the same muscle groups over and over to exhaustion.
- Fit in more – If you’re not focused exclusively on growing strength, pair exercises to get more done in your available time.
- Good for your heart – lifting weights with large rest periods is great for your muscles, but won’t give your heart much of a workout. Supersetting allows you to get the best of both worlds.
- Not always good for increasing strength – if your focus is on powerlifting, you’ll want to leave supersets to your hypertrophy days, if you choose to include them at all. Supersets will fatigue the muscles faster, which will mean decreased strength with each lift.
- Other gym-goers won’t like you – at least not if you try to use two core pieces of machinery at a time. Avoid supersetting with multiple pieces of equipment when the gym is busy and find exercises you can do using the same machine or a core machine and a dumbbell. (This is much easier than you might think.)
Is Supersetting Right for You?
Supersetting exercises is a great way of focusing on lifting weights while also improving cardiovascular health. If you’re looking to burn fat, get healthy, or focus a day of lifting weights on hypertrophy (growing your muscle size) supersetting is something you should definitely add into your routine. If you are only in the gym to shift heavy weight for powerlifting or weightlifting, you may decide to give supersetting a miss.