types of supersets

by Jason Stallworth

July 31, 2020

You train hard for muscle gains but the worst thing that can happen is for your muscles to be hidden by layers of fat.

Obviously what you eat plays a huge role in this. But did you know there are some little adjustments you can make to your training that will help you continue building muscle but also get you ripped and shredded?

So, what’s the secret? That’s the awesome thing…there is no secret. And it’s an extremely simple concept…supersets!

In this post, I’m going to share 4 types of supersets you can do and how you can use each one for making lean, ripped muscle gains. I’ll also give you examples for each.

What Are Supersets?

If you’re new to working out and bodybuilding, read this. If not, you can skip down to the next section where I get into the ‘meat and potatoes.’

A superset is when you perform one exercise followed by a different exercise with minimal rest between them.

Here’s an example:

  • Perform a set of dumbbell press
  • Quickly walk over to the next exercise…
  • Perform a set of pec dec flyes

That counts as a superset. Pretty simple, right?

Benefits to Doing Supersets

Why should you consider doing supersets? Well, there are several reasons. But if one of your goals is to get leaner or gain ripped muscle, supersets are an awesome method to use.

Here’s why supersets work so great…

  • Keeps you moving throughout your workout, aka burns more calories
  • Can make your workouts shorter as you’re getting more done in less time
  • On the above note, supersets can increase your overall training volume
  • Gives you a tremendous pump!
  • Will help you get in better overall shape and conditioning
  • Motivates you to go beyond what you thought your limits were

4 Types of Supersets

Now let’s dig into the good stuff – the 4 types of supersets you can do for ripped gains!

One method isn’t necessarily better than the other. In fact, each type of supersets you’ll read about below can be alternated or used at different times.

I do have my personal favorite type of supersets, and of course, I’ll share that below as well!

1 – Agonist-Antagonist Supersets

Training agonist with antagonist muscles means training opposing muscles. Here are some examples:

  • Supersetting chest with back
  • Supersetting back with shoulders
  • Supersetting biceps with triceps
  • Supersetting quads with hamstrings

What’s so great about supersetting opposing muscles is you will build more strength and get conditioned in the same workout.

The ‘magic’ behind agonist-antagonist supersets is you’re able to have the level of strength you would expect for your next exercise.

For example, if you’re going from a chest exercise to another chest exercise, your chest muscles are going to a bit fatigued so you won’t be as strong on that following exercise (and there are some benefits to this, which I’ll cover more below!).

You don’t necessarily have this issue when doing supersets with opposing muscles. Instead of ‘chest to chest’ you would be going ‘chest to back.’ And you’re back muscles will be fresh, ready to go!

Another great benefit you get with agonist-antagonist supersets is you can superset compound exercises. You’ll get some serious strength gains and conditioning doing this. And you’ll get shredded because you’re exerting more energy and effort into these exercises.

Jason’s Favorite: As you may have guessed, agonist-antagonist training is my absolute favorite type of supersets. The strength and conditioning benefits are just insane, so I highly encourage you to try this.

In fact, you can read more about this training and get a complete workout plan in my post: Muscle and Strength Building Program: 5-4-3 Sets Method

2 – Same Muscle Supersets

We talked briefly about doing supersets with the same muscle. This is also known as similar biomechanical supersets. They’re also the most common type of supersets.

The main benefit of doing same muscle supersets is the extreme development and shaping of your muscles. Same muscle supersets can give you that deep muscle separation.

Some specific examples include:

  • Superset barbell rows with lat pulldowns
  • Superset dumbbell rows with cable flyes
  • Superset overhead press with lateral raises
  • Superset leg press with leg extension

This method is awesome when you want to really annihilate and exhaust that specific muscle.

The best way to use ‘same muscle supersets’ is to perform a compound, or semi-compound exercise with an isolated exercise. The examples above follow that concept.

This will allow you to really get that good squeeze on that last exercise. It also allows you to really hone in and focus more on that specific muscle, building, and shaping that muscle.

3- Non-Competing Muscles Supersets

Non-competing muscle supersets is not as common as the others. You’re not supersetting the same muscle or opposing muscles.

Here are some examples:

  • Superset seated dumbbell press with leg curls
  • Superset bench press with barbell curls
  • Superset dumbbell rows with calve raises

It almost seems that the exercises you’re supersetting are random. But there is a benefit to this type of training.

One, is you have more muscle energy for that next exercise. Often times the muscle you choose to target for the superset exercise has little to do with the muscle in the first exercise.

Secondly, and this is the key point to supersets in general, you’re moving more, burning more calories, and increasing your level of conditioning. And this is what helps you get more ripped.

4 – Giant Sets

Giant sets are best described as extended supersets. The caveat here is that some may rest briefly between these sets.

What exactly are giant sets? A giant set is basically a superset that goes beyond just supersetting two exercises.

Here’s an example of a giant set using three exercises:

  • Barbell rows
  • Incline bench press
  • Rope crunches

Often times, that third exercise will be an exercise for abs, core, or calves…something that is somewhat on the light side.

Giant sets are an excellent way to burn more fat and get in better shape. Especially if you use the agonist-antagonist superset method. Keep it simple and just add an ab exercise for that third set.

I first learned about this method from Brian Alsruhe, an elite strength trainer and YouTuber. I have more information and a full workout routine based on this method here: Lean and Strong Workout Program

Superset Training for Lean Gains

back - hammer strength high rows

Plain and simple, supersets are an awesome way to gain muscle and get ripped by burning more calories during your workouts. And I’ve said this several times throughout this post, but you’ll also increase your level of conditioning.

In fact, I should’ve have named this blog post ‘how to increase your level of conditioning.’ Because without that, you’re limited to how much muscle you can build and fat you can burn.

In order to ‘get ripped’ you need to be able to push through that next level of fatigue. You also need to keep your body moving to keep your heartrate up.

Yet at the same time, you also want to build muscle and strength. Your goal isn’t just get lean. Rather, you want visible muscle. You want to see those striations and definition.

As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to just use one type. You can integrate all of these types of supersets into your program. You could do something like this…

Weeks 1-3: same muscle supersets
Weeks 4-6: agonist-antagonist supersets
Weeks 7-9: giant sets
Weeks 10-12: non-competing muscle supersets

So go back through this post again and create a workout plan based on these types of supersets.

Train with Passion,

Jason

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