Supersetting is gym lingo for doing multiple exercise sets in a row without resting. The technique might seem painful, since it involves performing a set at the most horrific time— right after just doing one. But decreasing break time can mean more calories burned, greater muscle engagement, and increased aerobic exercise. Photo: Caitlin Covington
Double Up — The Takeaway
There are multiple styles and sequences of supersets. They can target the same or similar muscle groups, such as switching between bent-over-rows and deadlifts, or between squats and lunges. Then, there are supersets that work entirely different areas, much like interval training. Both types of supersets have benefits— decreasing recovery time increases muscle fatigue, which helps the body build muscle. And alternating muscle groups requires more aerobic effort and triggers higher energy expenditure (i.e. calorie burn). (Though avoid supersetting and expending all that extra energy before a big day.)For most of us— besides this kid, maybe— time isn’t on our side. Fortunately, supersets give us ways to maximize our time. And minimizing rest time during workouts not only benefits busy schedules, but can also yield positive results for muscles .
Just doing more sets of one exercise without shortening rest periods won’t cut it . Research suggests working different muscle groups in succession burns more energy during and after exercise than repeating the same workout  . Sneak just one extra set between regular resistance training sets to seriously boost the energy burn .
Pretty much every workout can go from standard to super with a few tweaks. Add sets of exercises such as sit-ups, push-ups, squats, or more in between sets— it can transform a routine and bring on fatigue more quickly. Just make sure to start supersetting at a manageable pace, since trained athletes recover more efficiently from exercise. And if those shorter rest times compromise form, lighten the resistance level to prevent muscle strains and other unfortunate injuries.
- Next time you are doing your basic bench press, incorporate a set of seated rows in between sets to keep your heart rate up and boost your metabolism.
- Oftentimes technique can become compromised when fatigue sets in, so be mindful of your technique to avoid injury.
- Focus on the major “big” muscle groups for the most efficiency (for example, back and chest). I love to do back rows followed by chest presses or push-ups and bicep curls followed by tricep presses.
- Warm up properly for 5-10 minutes before supersetting. Try lighter weights to warm up the muscles first.