This article was originally written for MYPROTEIN.
Supersets are a great way to intensify your workouts and add volume to your sessions without adding time. A superset is done by alternating between exercises of opposing muscle groups with little to no rest between.
For example, performing a triceps movement immediately followed by a biceps movement. Doing so allows one muscle to rest while the other works, and prevents you from wasting any time sitting around at the gym.
Here are 4 supersets using 4 different pieces of equipment to build bigger arms.
Barbell: Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press + Standing Barbell Curl
The close-grip bench press is an excellent mass builder for your triceps and is a great accessory movement for improving your regular bench press. The standing barbell curl allows you to really overload the biceps and build serious size and strength. Because these movements can and should be performed using a relatively heavy weight, do them first (or toward the very beginning) of your arm workout for 4-6 sets of 6-8 reps each.
Close-Grip Barbell Bench Press: Put your feet up on the bench or hold them in the air at 90 degrees to eliminate any leg drive and put full tension on the upper body.
Standing Barbell Curl: Once your biceps are fatigued, use your hips to slightly assist in “cheating” the barbell up, and then very slowly lower the bar back down (3-5 seconds).
EZ-Bar: EZ-Bar Skullcrusher + EZ-Bar Preacher Curl
The EZ-Bar skullcrusher targets the two largest heads of the tricep- the long and lateral heads. The EZ-Bar preacher curl puts direct emphasis on your biceps by keeping your elbows at a fixed position and eliminating the possibility of any momentum or assistance from other muscle groups. This superset should be performed toward the beginning or middle of your routine for 4-5 sets of 8-15 reps each.
EZ-Bar Skullcrusher: Vary the “touch point” on every set. For example, bring the first set to your chin, second to your nose, third to your forehead, and fourth behind your head.
EZ-Bar Preacher Curl: At the end of each set, perform a few partial reps (lift the bar only ¼ or ½ of the way up) to fully fatigue the muscle.
Dumbbells: Incline Dumbbell Tate Press + Incline Dumbbell Curl
The incline dumbbell tate press (or elbows out triceps extension) is an excellent exercise for building the lower triceps, which play a huge role in compound movements such as the bench press and overhead press. The incline dumbbell curl targets the long head of biceps, the most visible portion of the biceps. These isolation exercises should be done in the middle of your workout for 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps each.
Incline Dumbbell Tate Press: Keep the dumbbells touching throughout the movement until the very top near-lockout position.
Incline Dumbbell Curl: Fully rotate your wrists at the bottom “hanging” position between each rep and fully supinate your wrists at the top (pinky finger to the ceiling).
Cables: Straight Bar Cable Pushdown + Straight Bar Cable Drag Curl
The cable pushdown is a staple of almost every arm routine and can be done using a variety of attachments including the straight bar, rope, V-bar, and even a band. The straight bar cable drag curl keeps constant tension on the bicep from the bottom of the movement all the way to the top. This superset should be used toward the end of your routine for 3-4 sets of 12-20 reps each.
Straight Bar Cable Pushdown: Use the ¼ rep method- push the bar all the way down, but rather than coming all the way back up, only raise the bar ¼ of the way and press down again. Then raise all the way up. That’s one rep.
Straight Bar Cable Drag Curl: Run the stack- once you reach failure (or 20 reps) with your starting weight, immediately drop to the next highest weight and go until failure (or 20 reps) again. Do so until you have reached the lightest weight on the stack.
*Bonus Finisher: Bodyweight Skullcrusher + Underhand Inverted Row
This bodyweight superset is much tougher than it appears, and can be used as either a warm-up or killer finisher for your next arm day.
Using a Smith Machine, start on a relatively low setting (where the movements are harder) and perform 10 reps of each exercise. After each set, raise the bar to the next highest setting and perform another 10 reps each. Continue doing so for 5 total sets – 50 reps each.
Take Home Message
Supersets such as these will make your next arm workout much more effective and efficient. These pairings save time by using the same piece of equipment and create a massive pump by eliminating any excess rest periods. Try this workout in the order above, or take bits and pieces to make your next arm workout your best yet.