Use Superset Workouts To Slim Down & Size Up

This article was originally written for MYPROTEIN.

If you’ve hit a plateau in your weight loss or muscle building, look no further than supersets.

A superset is done by performing two exercises consecutively, with no rest between.

This technique has been used for decades as a way to increase training volume (more volume = more muscle) without adding hours to your time in the gym. By rotating between exercises with little to no rest, your heart rate stays elevated (burning more calories) and you’re able to complete more sets and reps in a shorter period of time.

Supersets have been a staple of my workout routine for years, and I use them with all clients no matter what their goal or gender may be. Here are a few ways I like to implement supersets into my training programs:

Antagonist Supersets

Antagonist supersets are done by pairing exercises for opposing body parts such as chest/back, quads/hamstrings, and biceps/triceps.

This method was a favorite of the G.O.A.T., Arnold Schwarzenegger. By performing exercises of opposite muscle groups back-to-back, you allow one side to rest while the other works. This prevents any one muscle from getting over-fatigued, and enables you to still lift reasonably heavy weight without ever truly resting.

Examples:

1a. Barbell Bench Press

1b. Wide Grip Pull Up

2a. Leg Extension

2b. Leg Curl

3a. Straight Bar Cable Curl

3b. Straight Bar Tricep Pressdown

Compound Sets

Compound sets combine two exercises for the same muscle group.

In contrast to antagonist supersets, this method is designed to push a specific body part to total fatigue. You won’t be able to lift quite as heavy, but you’ll attack the muscle with more exercises and intensity. Try to pair exercises that hit the muscle from different angles to get a complete workout.

Examples:

1a. Barbell Bench Press

1b. Dumbbell Incline Press

2a. Wide Grip Pull Up

2b. Barbell Bent Over Row

3a. Barbell Military Press

3b. Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Tri-Sets and Giant Sets

Tri-sets and giant sets take compound sets to the next level by combining 3 or 4 (or more) exercises into one long, grueling set.

Rest as little as possible between these exercises. These mini-circuits are great if you’re short on time and need to completely destroy a specific muscle group.

Examples:

1a. Wide Grip Pulldown

1b. Underhand Grip Pulldown

1c. Straight Arm Pulldown

2a. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

2b. Dumbbell Lateral Raise

2c. Dumbbell Front Raise

2d. Bent Over Rear Delt Fly

Cardio Acceleration

Cardio acceleration pairs a typical bodybuilding exercise with a plyometric exercise, resulting in a full body, high-intensity workout.

This method will have your heart pumping and your metabolism on fire. Cardio acceleration cuts down workout time by integrating high-intensity cardio into your weightlifting routine. The combination of these two techniques turns your body into a fat-burning furnace long after you leave the gym.

Examples:

1a. Dumbbell Bench Press

1b. Jumping Jack

2a. Seated Cable Row

2b. Squat Jump

3a. Dumbbell Shoulder Press

3b. Tuck Jump

Take Home Message

Supersets were common practice back in the day, but have become a more and more infrequent method of training in recent years. Too often, I see people sitting around on a piece of equipment, swiping through Instagram, then lazily picking up the weights to begin an almost lethargic set.

I’m here to tell you that the “3 sets of 10 with 2 minutes of rest between” protocol is NOT going to get you results you want.

Incorporate methods like these supersets to really stimulate muscle growth and accelerate fat loss.