When you think of a “bro,” you probably think of stuff like supersets. I mean, you probably think about tilapia, asparagus, and fasted cardio, too. But supersets are probably on that list.

There have been a lot of claims regarding supersets over the years, but now there is some research to back some of those claims. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the claims, and then let’s explore some of the options.

 

Benefits

The first benefit is obvious. Supersets are efficient. They get you out of the gym quicker. Think about it like this: if you do a set of bench press, you rest two minutes, repeat a few times and then you do the same thing with something like barbell rows, it’s going to take a fair amount of time.

If you fill those two minutes with exercise of the antagonist muscle groups—basically if you do a bench press and follow up with a barbell row—you’re having twice the fun with shorter rest times.

Moreover, Weakley et al took a look at the short term effects of supersets, traditional training (where you go exercise by exercise), and trisets (three exercises done consecutively). They looked at perceptions of intensity as well as physiological responses to each type of training.

Their methods were as follows:

“Fourteen male participants completed a familiarisation session and three resistance training protocols (i.e., TRAD, SS, and TRI) in a randomised-crossover design. Rating of perceived exertion, lactate concentration ([Lac]), creatine kinase concentration ([CK]), countermovement jump (CMJ), testosterone, and cortisol concentrations were measured pre, immediately, and 24-h post the resistance training sessions with magnitude-based inferences assessing changes/differences within/between protocols.”

The TRI (triset) group reported they had experienced possibly to almost certainly greater efficiency. In addition, they had a greater intensity on the form of rate of perceived exertion (RPE). Another point of interest for the SS (superset) and TRI groups were the increases in testosterone. These groups reported possible increases post training, with SS showing possible increases 24 hours later.

Now, keep in mind the sample size was small so more research is needed, and there were other points of note in the results. For this particular study, they concluded that:

“SS and TRI can enhance training efficiency and reduce training time. However, acute and short-term physiological responses differ between protocols. Athletes can utilise SS and TRI resistance training, but may require additional recovery post-training to minimise effects of fatigue.”

Again, efficiency is a definite.

Not only that, but in another recent study, Weakley et al looked at three modes of super setting as defined consistently in literature in three of the following ways: A-A, which is agonist and antagonist pairing which would be the common bench press and barbell row combinations, A-P, which is alternate peripheral pairings of muscle groups, like a squat and a pull-up, and S-B, similar biomechanical movements, like a dumbbell row and a barbell row.

The main take away from this is that for hypertrophy phases, A-A and A-P supersets are beneficial in that they don’t increase the RPE, which can allow for more volume. From an intuitive approach, this makes sense because if you followed a S-B superset approach, you’d be taxing the same muscle groups back to back, which can yield a possible feeling of more intensity. Nevertheless, I will include some good options for that style later if you happen to enjoy masochism. One final note, traditional training was great for maintaining velocity, force, and power output, so if you’re focused on those variables, it might be advantageous not to superset, or at the very least, not to superset the exercises in which you want to maintain those variables.

JOIN NOW to continue reading...
All the science, none of the B.S. Sign up today. Monthly plans starting at $5.99
Exclusive Articles

Discover a plethora exclusive articles and videos on nutrition and training from some of the top experts in the world.

Instructional Videos

Layne and his trusted peers will teach you how to perform the lifts more safely and efficiently.

BioLayne: The Rebuild

A video series documenting Layne's journey back to the professional powerlifting stage.

Monthly Webinars

This is your chance to learn from some of the top experts in the world in a classroom setting from the comfort of your own home.
**Gold (or higher) membership required

Video Q&A

Get YOUR questions answered every week by Layne himself.
**Gold (or higher) membership required

Workout Builder

Create your own customized program based on specifications developed by Layne.
**Gold (or higher) membership required

Amanda Bucci

"Not only does Layne talk the talk, he's walked the walk. I recommend listening to and reading his resources to any of my friends looking for science-backed fitness information to guide them on their path of knowledge expansion within the realm of fitness. He's one of the few people i've found to be a reliable, educational, no b.s. resource."

- Amanda Bucci (Bodybuilding.com Athlete)
Sign Up Now Members Login
Facebook Twitter Google+ Reddit Tumblr Email Back To Top