Do Supersets Result in Increased Strength Gains?

November 2, 2010

Must See Strength Training Videos

Most training programs are based on a standard set routine—performing a specified number of sets of an exercise, then moving on to the next exercise. However, this may not be the most effective and efficient method for making strength gains.

A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that performing paired sets—commonly called supersets—actually produces greater strength gains than traditional sets. In the study, the paired set involved two exercises that alternately activated an agonist muscle (the primary one involved in an exercise) and the antagonist muscle (the one that works opposite the agonist when returning to the start position). In the Bicep Curl, for example, the agonist and antagonist muscles are the biceps and triceps, respectively.

Study researchers had subjects perform a Barbell Row variation and the Bench Press in superset fashion, with a two-minute rest between them.  They found that supersetting opposing muscle groups promotes faster recovery, allowing an athlete to perform subsequent sets with more reps or heavier weight for an elevated challenge. Also,  when you superset two exercises that engage opposing muscles, you are also activating other muscle groups in your body more than with traditional sets that work the same muscle groups.

For more information about adding supersets to your workout, check out these STACK-exclusive exercise videos with Oklahoma Baseball and Real Salt Lake:

Oklahoma Baseball performs the Alternating DB Bench and supersets them with Pull-Ups.

Real Salt Lake develops explosive upper-body strength by performing the Push Press and Chin-Up in superset fashion.

Source:  Robbins, D. W. (2010). The Effect of an Upper-Body Agonist-Antagonist Resistance Training Protocol on Volume and Efficiency. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research , 24 (10), 2632-2640.

Topics: BUILD MUSCLE
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Andy Haley
- Andy Haley is the Performance Director at STACK. A certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), he received his bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Miami...
Must See
Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes
Views: 6,029,485
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,230,103
Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps Margus Hunt Benches 385 Pounds for Five Reps
Views: 21,155,429

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,018,397
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 16,121
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,968
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,798
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,533
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,577,381
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,222
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,214

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

Battle Rope Workout That Will Get You Shredded

The battle rope workout has become a staple in the fitness world. There is no secret as to why the military and world class athletes resort to battle...

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Abby Wambach's Strength and Speed Workout

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Why Every Athlete Should Do Farmer's Walks

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Austen Lane's Complete NFL Workout

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

Build Explosive Strength with This Olympic Weightlifting Program

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

How to Perform the Farmer's Walk with Dumbbells

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Use Wave Loading to Take Your Strength to the Next Level

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Why Everything You Know About Core Training is Wrong

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Know Your Row: The Pros and Cons of 8 Different Back Exercises

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

Is CrossFit Appropriate for Basketball Players?

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

5 Training Ideas You Should Steal From the NFL's Best

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Olympian Carrie Tollefson's Core Workout

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

Improve Your Power With These Hardcore Methods

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

German Volume Training: How to Pack on Muscle Mass

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Advanced Anti-Rotation Core Strengthening Exercises

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Why the Clean Pull is Perfect for Athletes

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

Are You Loading Barbells Wrong?

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

8-Exercise Advanced Chest and Back Workout

The Most American Workout Ever

The Most American Workout Ever

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Everything You Need to Know About Using Farmer's Walk Handles

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

Build Strength with Kettlebell Sandbags

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

Strengthen Your Core With 2 Simple Anti-Rotational Exercises

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

8 Ways to Use a Weight Vest in Your Workouts

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

How to Get More Out of the Dumbbell Press

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

How to Recover From a Soccer Game or Workout

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

Wrestlers: Improve Double-Leg Takedowns With Sled Pushes

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

7 Trap Bar Exercises You Should Try

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

8 Cures for a Weak Grip

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

How to Fix Back Rounding When Deadlifting

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Why Your Instagram Box Jump Isn't That Impressive

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

Duncan Keith's Stanley Cup MVP Training

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

A Simple 6-Exercise Core Workout

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

Keep Your Workouts Simple for Better Results

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball Before Your Season

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

How to Use the Pallof Press for an Iron Core

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

Build Muscle With the 2-Second Pause Workout Program

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

3 Barbell-Only, Full-Body Workout Programs for Any Fitness Goal

YardBarker