For The Love of Supersets

by tinareale on April 19, 2012

When I first started working out, I easily found myself confused on the set-up of strength training workouts. I learned a lot over the course of the next decade as I became more and more dedicated to my fitness and wanting to have the right information. One of the first training techniques I learned about was supersets. I immediately incorporated them into my workouts and they are still my favorite layout for a workout.

Now, you can incorporate them into your workouts as well with this post to give you basically all you need to know about supersets and how to use them. Enjoy!


What is a superset? A superset is two exercises grouped together that are completed back to back with minimal rest between each exercise. For example, doing a dumbbell chest press and a dumbbell row together.

How do I complete a superset exercise? Complete one set of each of the grouped exercises back to back with minimal rest between them. After completing one set of each back to back, rest for a period of around 1-2 minutes. Then, complete the second set of each exercise back to back. Rest again. Repeat in that pattern until all sets completed for the pair of exercises.

What are the benefits to using supersets?

  • less downtime in the workout, making more use of available workout time
  • add a progressive challenge to a standard weights routine
  • aide in different aspects of fitness such as strength endurance or power training
  • create more continuous effort for a higher calorie burn during the workout
  • increase variety in your workout with many combinations to choose from
  • a great alteration to circuits in a crowded gym or gym with a difficult layout for circuits

What are the different ways to use supersets?

  • Same Muscle Group: Choose two exercises for the same body part. Your first exercise will be a basic exercise focused on overall strength – such as a squat or barbell row. The second exercise should be either an isolation exercise or a stabilization exercise to challenge the endurance of the muscle. For example, following a squat you may do a stability ball hamstring curl to challenge the legs’ endurance.
  • Different Muscle Groups: You can use supersets of different muscle groups – quadriceps with hamstrings, chest with back, triceps with biceps, shoulders with abs, a lower body exercise with an upper body exercise, etc. to minimize your down time during rest periods. This allows adequate rest for muscles between working sets, so you can lift heavier and increase strength gains.
  • Cardio Blast Groups: Group a standard strength exercise with a plyometric exercise to add a cardio component to your workout. This could also be used to reach the power level of training when grouping a strength exercise with a plyometric exercise of the same body part. A good example would be partnering a set of deadlifts with a set of jumping lunges.

And to get you started, I’ve included a few sample superset workouts for your workout pleasure. Enjoy!




Do you use supersets in your strength training? What type do you enjoy?


1 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey April 19, 2012 at 6:52 am

I LOVE supersets! I feel like they make workouts go by so much quicker!

2 Lauren April 19, 2012 at 6:55 am

I love them! I didn’t really start doing them until Jame Eason’s Live Fit but now that I know what they are and how to do them, I can’t get enough.

3 Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon April 19, 2012 at 7:16 am

I am a huge fan of supersets! Efficiency is key. My favorite way to use them is to superset strength and cardio exercises.

4 Coco April 19, 2012 at 7:19 am

I’m all about supersets! It’s how I get my routine done in a shorter period of time!

5 Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life April 19, 2012 at 7:38 am

I swear, all I do now is supersets – they’re my favorite!
Great post, lady!! :)

6 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats April 19, 2012 at 7:40 am

I LOVE doing supersets! I’ll do two different muscle groups and only wait about 30 seconds between sets (this usually doesn’t include the walking back and forth between machines) that way i’m not sitting around, I like to keep things moving!

7 Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy April 19, 2012 at 7:42 am

Very informative! My favourite workouts are circuits with cardio blasts in them. Heart rate up, not bored, and challenging. :)

8 Nicole April 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

great supersets Tina! thanks for sharing!

9 Tara Burner April 19, 2012 at 8:50 am

ummmmm I’m a slacker
haven’t done anything lately other than bike & yoga
pinning these though lol does that count?!

10 Ashley @ My Food 'N' Fitness Diaries April 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

great and informative post tina! i LOVE supersets! i always feel as though they challenge me AND i get through more exercises in a shorter amount of time with supersets.

11 Mellissa April 19, 2012 at 9:18 am

LOVE them. It is a great way to keep workouts interesting.

12 Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food April 19, 2012 at 9:34 am

Lee is really into lifting and is all about his supersets! I don’t use supersets as much as I would like to but I will definitely be trying the workouts you posted! :)

13 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) April 19, 2012 at 10:03 am

I LOVE supersets! I prefer doing the complimenting muscle groups, but I also do the same muscle groups for my big workout days. Great post Tina!

14 Heather @ Better With Veggies April 19, 2012 at 10:20 am

I love supersets – a HUGE time saver, which is what I like. :) Great overview post!

15 Danica @ It's Progression April 19, 2012 at 10:22 am

I love doing supersets! Actually, until now I didn’t realize I was doing them so often, but I’m glad they’re so beneficial! : )

16 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table April 19, 2012 at 10:25 am

Same muscle group supersets are my favorite – I do them in nearly every workout. They do a much better job of totally exhausting the muscle group for me.

17 Kiah April 19, 2012 at 10:54 am

Tina! I have to say, as a PT, I love coming to your sight to spice up my workouts. Quick question: remember the book you talked about a while back–the one about running less days in prep for a marathon? What’s the title? Thanks!!!

18 tinareale April 19, 2012 at 12:19 pm

It’s the FIRST Training Method from Furman University and the book is called Run Less, Run Faster. I haven’t been able to follow the workouts yet since I got injured before moving to that training style (ironic, huh? decide to scale back and then get an overuse injury just as I make that decision. Ha!) but I can’t wait to follow that plan for my next marathon.

I will say that the general plan has more than necessary 20 miler runs for the full marathon plan. I personally will adapt the long run mileage to build up over the 12 weeks.

19 Leonor @FoodFaithFitness April 19, 2012 at 11:03 am

I do alot of supersets. I like to minimize my time in the gym if I can. Also, love adding a cardio burst in between.

20 Katie April 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

I’m so excited to try these workouts! Do you repeat the workout 2-3 times?

21 tinareale April 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Yep. I left the number of sets up to the individual for their personal time and preference. I would suggest 2-4 times. You could also do the larger muscle groups with 3-4 sets and the smaller muscle groups (like bicep/tricep or core groups) for just 2 sets since they get worked in the other moves.

22 Paige @ Running Around Normal April 19, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Supersets and tri-sets are probably my favorite method of training. Not too many that I forget the exercises, but still keeps me moving from one to the next :)

23 Kris April 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Oooo baby, I love this topic!! I love getting the most in with my weights as I can and burn the most cals! I know I do this with supersets!!!

Right now I’m following the Jamie Eason plan with weights and LOVE it!!


24 PavementRunner April 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm

BOOM BOOM POW! Workout machine. Thanks for the share!

25 pluvk April 19, 2012 at 1:45 pm

I really enjoyed this post!! And thank you for the supersets. Can’t wait to try them! Pinned. :-)

26 Alysia @ Slim Sanity April 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm

This is great! I have one question, how many sets of each superset do you want to complete?

27 tinareale April 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm

2-4 depending on your time and fitness level. :)

28 Michelle (Better with Berries) April 19, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I love supersets! They also make my workout seem more interesting and it challenges me much more. I’m so excited to have three more to add to my “workouts” folder. Thanks, Tina!

29 [email protected] Palate April 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Was introduced to supersets by Courtney over at Sweet Tooth Sweet Life. Love the workout she has posted. Definitely going to try your pure strength one, pinned :)

30 Heather (Where's the Beach) April 19, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I love supersets = they tend to be my go-to format actually. I haven’t done it in ages b/c of injuries, but love doing lower body weights supersetted with a plyo move. Reminds me of Cathe’s Plyo Legs from her STS series.

31 Tamara April 19, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Supersets and tri-sets are my go-tos, both for personal workouts and when training clients. I like to put together ‘surprising’ combos, to shock and surprise muscles into working just a bit harder!
Pinning yours Tina! Thanks.

32 Vee April 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I love supersets! I usually go for endurance. And usually train agonist vs antagonist kind of thing. :-) Great post Tina, thanks for those ideas.

33 [email protected] April 20, 2012 at 9:27 am

I’ve never tried super-sets before, but you always know what you’re talking about! These seem hard, but effective. I’m not the strongest, and I mostly focus on cardio and targeting problem areas, but when I have the time I like to get a full body workout in, and may need to try one of these groups of exercises you suggested. Pretty cool, thanks!

34 Ali April 20, 2012 at 9:59 am

Great explanation of supersets, and combos! Featured in today’s post ;) .

35 Jonathan | WorldOfDiets April 20, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I do supersets in all of my workouts. I also do tri-sets and circuits with 4 -5 exercises in a row. It saves a lot of time and builds up the intensity.

I like doing circuits with non-competing exercises so I don’t do two leg exercises in a row. I try to work on many muscle groups within each circuit.

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