How Do Supersets Work?

Supersets are getting more and more popular. Supersets involve working two opposing groups of muscle back to back without any breaks in between.

That is all well and good but, how exactly do supersets work? When supersets have the same exercises for basically the same amount of reps, how are they any better than just doing regular sets?

So- how do supersets work? Well, supersets work by (1) overloading your muscles way harder- giving more muscle growth, (2) taking advantage of no rest times to further stress the muscle and growth, and (3) releasing more muscle-building hormones like testosterone.

This is a lot of information, so, keep reading and we will cover it all in-depth below!

What Are Supersets?

Supersets in bodybuilding are a relatively simple concept. The idea is to perform two exercises that engage opposing muscle groups. The exercises are done back to back, usually with no breaks in between.

In such a scenario “opposing” means muscle groups that lie in the opposing areas of the body. Examples of such muscle pairs would be biceps-triceps, chest-back, and hamstrings-quads. 

Taking chest-back as an example, we know that they are muscles placed in the opposing areas of the body. Let’s see how the two sets of exercises will go down during a superset.

When you start with the chest, your chest muscles are contracting and relaxing. They are using up energy. But notice what is happening at the same time to back muscles.

The fact is, as your chest muscles are contracting and relaxing, your back muscles are sort of “lengthening” themselves to allow for that movement. And in that process they are warming up.

Next, when you switch to back exercise, the muscles are ready to go in full force: they are already warmed up and charged for the action. This is what a superset is, taking advantage by engaging opposing muscle groups back to back.

How Do Supersets Work?

Supersets work by taking the advantage of the fact that opposing muscle groups are engaged back to back. We know that in a superset, oppositely placed muscle groups are engaged.

We already took an example of the chest and back. This time let us take a look at the bicep-tricep duo.

Biceps and triceps are exactly opposite muscle groups of each other. Let’s say you start with an exercise that engages the biceps. As you work them, the triceps are doing complementary work. During the contraction and relaxation of the biceps, the triceps are also relaxing extra to allow the biceps to move freely.

Next thing we do is switch to a triceps-based exercise. This is exactly where the magic happens. By the time you are done with your biceps exercise, your triceps are already warmed up and ready to go all out.

This is because while you were performing the biceps exercise, the triceps were already getting ready for the hustle. Next, you switch back to the biceps.

Remember, there are no resting periods in supersets, so we go back to the biceps right after. Also, remember that the biceps were warming up while the triceps exercise was going on.

This is how supersets work – by engaging opposing muscle groups back to back without any rest in between.

How Are Supersets More Effective?

Supersets are like the big daddy to regular sets of exercise. Supersets are helpful in multiple ways and are generally more effective than regular workout sessions. Let us look at some ways in which supersets are more effective than regular workouts:

  • They cut down overall workout time:
    • Supersets generally do not have any rest times in between the sets. This means there is no time wasted in between the sets. As a result the overall workout plan gets completed faster. You can either stay for more or head out for the rest of your day. This is one of the main advantages of supersets.
  • Increased intensity:
    • Supersets engage opposing sets of muscles back to back and upon that without any breaks. The without any breaks part really increases the intensity of the superset and helps you build better muscle. The intensity is further increased by the fact that opposing muscle groups are being targeted. Such muscle groups complement each other during the exercise and help in building muscle faster.
  • Building stronger muscle:
    • Supersets work the muscle harder. After the first set of each exercise the muscle starts to tire and that is when the real muscle build up kicks in. Back to back engagement of the muscles tires them faster and trains them harder. This is not seen in regular exercise since there are wait periods.
  • Increases muscular endurance:
    • This is another one of the key benefits of supersets. Because of the way supersets are by design, they naturally enhance muscle endurance. Going back to back again and again trains the muscle in a way that muscle endurance is improved.

Lastly, in a study done on traditional, superset and tri set resistance training, it was revealed that superset training leads to elevated levels of testosterone secretion and other hormonal secretions.

These ultimately make the quality of the entire workout better. It was found that regular supersetters exerted more force per lift than a regular gym-goer.

This was partly because people practicing supersets were regularly exerting more and more exertion per lift which had compounded over time.

The study reveals that given an option between regular exercise and supersets, supersets will result in better performance over time. 


Supersets have become a permanent part of the fitness vocabulary. New and old bodybuilders are eager to try it.

The technique is fabulous for making strong and powerful muscles quickly. We already discussed in great detail how supersets work.

Remember, the magic happens at two places, one, when there is no rest in between the exercises so you have to go at it back to back and two, when the same muscle group is challenged again and again without any rest.

This creates a kind of loop where the muscle becomes stronger and increases its endurance.

Now, get out there and start supersetting- you’ll thank me later.

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