Fitness Tips

Supersets Can Help You Build Strength Quickly—As Long As You’re Doing Them Correctly 

Allie Flinn

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My brain basically short-circuits when faced with too many decisions, which is always what happens when I try to come up with exercises to do on my own at the gym. I need someone to tell me what to do, so I can turn that part of my brain off, which is why I enjoy group classes. When left to my own devices at the gym, I typically hop on the treadmill and just go for a run. But when one of my friends mentioned supersets, my interest was piqued. (The treadmill gets boring.) So what is a superset? And how is it different than circuit training? I asked Corey Phelps, NASM-CPT, to explain.

“A superset is two strength exercises performed back to back with no rest in between,” Phelps says. Circuit training can contain both strength and cardio moves, and it combines more than two exercises, she says. “Supersets are great for so many reasons, specifically, supersets are beneficial to building muscle and strength quickly. This happens by overloading the muscles and creating greater intensity. Another great benefit is they save tons of time… perfect for someone on a time crunch. Lunch workout anyone?” she says.

When deciding which two exercises to pair together, it’s important to look at your goals, Phelps says. Are you looking for a full-body workout? Or do you want to target a specific area? “If you are trying to maximize time for a total body workout then pair strength moves for opposing body parts together,” she says. “If you’re focused on sculpting and strengthening a specific body part like glutes, you could pair two glute exercises together.” She says that a superset will usually involve between three and five sets.

For quick recovery, yoga that feels like a massage:

As established, making decisions is hard—here are some superset ideas for you. And these are some other quick workouts you can do.

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