December 22, 2023 1 min read

By Shane Robert

A superset is a tactic used in strength training where two exercises are performed back to back with minimal rest between exercises. The purpose of this can range from time management to muscle exhaustion.

The original meaning of the term referred to two exercises for the same muscle group being performed back to back. This would often take the form of a compound movement followed immediately by a more isolated movement, for example, bench press supersetted with push-ups, or the reverse to act as a pre-fatigue superset, for example, leg extension supersetted with squats. Same-muscle supersets were very popular in Nautilus and High-Intensity Training programs that attempted to exhaust the muscle completely.

The more modern, and common, use of the term refers to exercise of two different muscle groups being performed back to back. The classic combos of chest & back, biceps & triceps, and quads & hamstrings represent antagonist supersets. These are done as a way to increase strength because motor unit recruitment is enhanced by alternately contracting antagonistic muscles. Any other pairing is acceptable, for example, quads and chest, and are primarily done for the time-saving or conditioning benefits

Whatever the reason you are using supersets, there doesn’t seem to be a downside when it comes to strength or recovery (quite the opposite may be the case), and the saved time might mean the ability to do more sets or exercises within a training session. Try it out and see for yourself.

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