3 Workout Hacks to Make Supersets More Effective

STACK Expert Chris Hitchko teaches you three variations of supersets you've likely never done.

A superset is a common method used to perform more strength work in less time. Typically you pair two exercises back to back with a very short (or no) break between sets. Supersets allow for more total volume and higher intensities, and they can make a workout shorter if you have time constraints.

RELATED: What is a Superset? Everything You Need to Know

Typically, I use the term "superset" to describe exercises for different muscles (Bench Press into a Pull-Up). A compound set calls for different exercises for the same muscle (Bench Press into a Push-Up).

Many of us have supersetted Bicep Curls followed immediately by Tricep Push-Downs, but today I'm going to teach you three variations of supersets you've likely never done.

In these supersets, you use a percentage of your 1RM for some of the exercises, then immediately repeat for five rounds without rest. This combines supersetting with metabolic workouts. To make it easy, we use everyone's favorite exercise (the Bench Press) as the base lift and follow it with another exercise—for hypertrophy, correcting imbalances or power.

RELATED: The Ultimate Arm Superset Workout

Hypertrophy

Bench Press

For hypertrophy, use 75 percent of your 1RM for 5 reps. For these sets, it's important to have a general idea of your 1RM. I don't want you coming anywhere near fatigue; consistently keep three or more reps in the tank. As you become more conditioned, increase the intensity by adding more weight and doing more rounds. Our athletes at Show Up Fitness Santa Monica have worked up to 10 consecutive rounds. Beginners rest one to two minutes between rounds; more advanced athletes perform five rounds consecutively.

Bench Press @75% x 5 reps into Standing Single-Arm Rows x 10 reps. Repeat for 5 rounds

RELATED: Arm Training: A Simple Superset for Bigger Arms

Fixing Imbalances

Pull-Up

In this superset, you pair the Bench Press with an imbalance you may have—e.g., knee valgus, a unilateral deficiency (one arm or leg weaker than the other), cardio, flexibility or core weakness. Have your strength coach identify your weakness and make it a focal point of the workout. In this superset, the athlete lacks mobility at the shoulder joint and has a weak core. We have him hold a pull-up position isometrically, stretching his latissimus dorsi while elevating his scapulas, which helps with mobility. For his weak core, we have him draw in his navel and forcefully breath out, which will strengthen his transverse abdominals.

Bench Press @70% x 8 reps into Isometric Pull-Up with scapular elevation and diaphragmatic breathing. Rest 1 minute.

Power

Jump

Power is defined as Force times Velocity. Many athletes focus too much on force development, leaving velocity for the wolves. To develop optimal power, you need to train both parts of the equation. In this superset, you lift the heaviest weight in the Bench Press to develop strength, then work on velocity by involving a maximal Jump.

Bench Press @85% x 1 rep into 3 Seated Maximal Jumps. Rest two to three minutes.

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Topics: BENCH PRESS | BUILD MUSCLE | WORKOUTS | EXERCISING | POWER | BENCH | PRESS | INTENSITY