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Fitness enthusiasts have plenty of choices. Whether they choose to sign up for a membership at the local gym, follow a YouTube channel, or learn to build their own workouts, the fitness industry offers options people of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy.

However, different exercises have different benefits and take different amounts of time to complete. Supersets are considered one of the top ways to get good results from your strength workout.

What Are Supersets?

Supersets involve alternating sets of just two exercises focused on opposing muscles. For example, pushing and pulling exercises targeting first the chest and then back.

However, supersets might also target the upper and lower body or even the same muscle group used in two different ways. Quadriceps extensions and squats both target the same muscles but they can be paired in a superset. What all supersets have in common is that they are performed back to back with little or no rest between them.

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The Benefits Of Regular Exercise

There is an old saying that any exercise is better than no exercise, and it's fairly true since staying active is essential for optimal health, whether you choose supersets or brisk walks or swimming.

Some benefits of exercise are seen right away, such as improved cognition and relief from anxiety and depression. over the long term, regular exercise is associated with better heart health, weight management, prevention or better management of diabetes, strengthening the bones and muscles, improvement in balance coordination, and fall prevention.

Regular exercise may protect against some forms of cancer and increase the odds of living longer.

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What Are The Benefits Of Supersets?

In addition to the general health benefits offered by all forms of exercise, supersets save a lot of time because you're taking little to no rest between exercises, but the muscles still get to rest because you're working alternating.

Supersets also increase the intensity of the workout, offering the benefits of aerobic and resistance training in one. These workouts are ideal for those who want to complete a workout faster but still see gains.

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Sample Superset #1: Antagonist Superset For Biceps and Triceps

Bicep curl: Stand up straight, with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep the elbows close to the body, palms facing forward. One arm stays straight and curls the weights until the biceps are fully contracted. Pause for a second, squeeze the muscle. Slowly bring the weights down. Don't move faster than 2 seconds up and 2 seconds down.

Tricep kickback: Holding a tricep in one hand, bend forward at the waist, with the knees slightly bent. You can also place one knee and the same hand on a bench. Bring the elbow of the weighted arm near to the hip. Keeping the upper arm stationary, extend the weight out behind you until the arm is straight. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

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Sample Superset #2: Agonist Superset For Chest

Both of these exercises target the muscles of the chest.

Bench press: Lying on a bench, extend your arms above you until you can grasp the barbell on the rack. Your arms should be straight with a slight bend in the elbows. Lift the bar up, slowly bring it down to just above your sternum, and then press upward on the exhale to complete one rep.

Push ups: Do a set of standard pushups, or modify them to be easier or more difficult, depending on your skill level.

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Sample Superset #3: Unrelated Superset

As the name suggests, unrelated supersets involve two exercises that use different, unrelated muscle groups. For example, an unrelated superset would alternate bicep curls, which target the biceps, with lunges that work the quads, glutes, and hamstrings.

The benefit of this combination is that there is no loss of strength going from working upper body muscles to the lower body muscles.

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Sets And Reps

The number of sets and reps depends on the type of exercises, the weight, the skill level, and the goal of the training. A person who wants to build strength or endurance will need different numbers of reps or sets compared to someone who wants to increase muscle size.

For example, superset #1 could be 4 sets, 15 reps. Superset #2 could be done in 3 sets of 8 reps, while the push-ups are performed “until failure”or when your body cannot complete one more rep with good form. Always stop before your form suffers.

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Supersets Versus Regular Workouts

Unless your only goal is muscle building, resting for a minute or more between sets can make your workout less effective. Hundreds of crunches daily take a lot of time (and isn't effective at burning abdominal fat). You can even think of supersets as combining good exercises and good diet: a much more efficient way than crunches to see your body change.

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Other ”Smart” Workouts

Single joint exercises like biceps curls or leg extensions are time-consuming. A better option is compound exercises like deadlifts and pushups that work different muscle groups simultaneously. Functional fitness focuses on compound exercises that mimic movements we do in daily life (ie: bent over rows imitate picking up your groceries).

High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) takes less time than low-intensity aerobic exercises to deliver similar, or even better results.

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Considerations

Supersets are a smart way to incorporate exercise into your routine without having to set aside hours each day. Like many other workouts, supersets can cause fatigue and lead to injury, especially when the exercises are not performed correctly or in excess. A fitness coach can help design an individualized program for your needs, and increasing weight or repetitions gradually will keep you safer than jumping right in with heavy dumbbells.

Young muscular woman doing weighted lunge with dumbbells, with personal trainer motivating her nortonrsx / Getty Images

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.