Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How To Build Muscle With Supersets

What Is Supersetting?

Supersetting is pairing two exercises together and performing them back to back without a significant rest.  It is a popular method used to increase volume in training programs.

How To Superset

Here are the general principles to follow. 

Common Superset Parings:

  • Opposing muscle groups.  Examples:  push/pull, push up and row
  • Same muscle groups.  Example: bench and push up
  • Strength with explosive (Post Activation Potentiation).  Example: Squat with vertical jump
  • Conditioning  exercises. Example: sled pulls with rope battle
  • Big with small muscle groups.  Example: squat with TKEs

Common Mistake:

The common pairings above allow for a ton of options, but there are a few that I generally like to avoid.  The biggest is a fatiguing exercises (whether it is a conditioning or repitition exercise) with a maximal effort strength lift. 

For example, I would not have an athlete push the prowler for 45-60 seconds at high intensity, then put them on a heavy squat.  Pre-fatuging, although popular in some bodybuilding circles, would be dangerous in this instance.  I would not find it safe, wise, or effective to use up the body’s energy resources then attempt a heavy lift. 

Recipe for distaster in most instances. 

Simple Rule:

Most of your superset pairings should go big muscles to small muscles OR similar muscle size to similar muscle size (most compound push/pull exercises are in this category).  I would recommend (except in the limited instance of pre-activation, BUT not fatigue) against going small to big.  An example of small to big would be a leg extension then a heavy squat. 

Superset Example Video:

This is a push/pull superset with a 3-4 second eccentric phase on supine rows followed by push ups.  Don’t be fooled by the slow movements, it is VERY difficult.  I would recommend starting with 5-8 reps of each.  Note the pool of sweat slowly building during the push ups!

Stay strong…and safe!

- Joe Hashey, CSCS -


5 Responses to “How To Build Muscle With Supersets”
  1. NIc Human says:

    I watch your videos all the time and find them so helpfull. I am a 68 year old field athlete doing shotput, discus, hammer and weight throw and your excercises helped me to win my age catagory national champs. I am realy hoping to hear from you what specific exercises you would recommend for me, taking my age into consideration. I do dumbell presses with 25KG 4×12,12,10,8 and squats with 172kg 3×15 , curls with 17kg 3×10, and a few other like rowing.

    Thank you

  2. Thank you for the email! Congrats on the national championship win. Something simple you could add are all times of medicine ball slams and throws. The weights are sub-maximal, but great for developing explosive strength.

    - Joe

  3. JC says:


    Love Supersets – Find I fall more into a bodybuilding/adding muscle type thing with them – Do you use them for Strength ranges only? What Pairing would you do? I Have played with DL and Standing press or a NG press w/DB and Fat Bar Chins in the 2-4 rep range – maybe 3-5 sets?

    Thanks for any input!


  4. JC,

    Great question. I usually use them after the primary exercise of the program. BUT, I have used the PAP with a strength and an explosive. It’s possible to do strength to strength, but I don’t do it myself.



  5. Nic Human says:

    Thanks Joe….I need speed for discus and shotput….I am at an age when muscle deteriation is a natural thing….it almost seems one “step forward and two back”…but I am working hard to stay ahead and your ” supersets” seems to be just what is needed. I am excited to get into the gyn om Monday.

    Thank you so much


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