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Traditional weight training asks you to train a muscle with a specific exercise, rest and then repeat one or two more times. Supersets simply have you move immediately from one exercise to the next with no rest between. Performing supersets offers many advantages, but it is usually considered a more advanced approach to weight training.
Benefits of Supersets
Moving from one strength-training exercise to the next with no rest allows you to maximize your time in the gym. This type of strength-training regimen also keeps your heart rate elevated, helping you burn more calories overall. Your muscles are constantly stimulated during a superset session, leading to a greater release of muscle-building hormones. You can also target a muscle from multiple angles and add variety to your workout sessions by using supersets.
Advantages of Normal Sets
Normal sets are advantageous for beginners because they allow you to rest between each set of exercises and not become overly tired. Normal sets also allow you to focus on impeccable form. You may prefer to keep a rest between sets if you are lifting heavy weights to failure. You need the minute or more of rest so you can hit the next set equally hard. Leaving rest between sets also provides you time to stretch, which may prevent muscles from cramping and preserve range of motion. Men's Health reports that taking 20 to 30 seconds to stretch a worked muscle between sets may increase your strength gains.
Types of Supersets
Body part supersets involve two exercises performed back-to-back for the same muscle group; for example, a triceps overhead extension followed by a triceps dip. You can also perform supersets of two exercises for different body parts. In this case, you might work two opposing, or antagonistic, muscle groups in quick succession - such as the back and chest. A lat pulldown followed by a chest press is an example of this type of superset. Supersets can also involve moving between the upper and lower body - such as a lunge followed by pushups. To add more nuance to your strength-training, do supersets that target a muscle in isolation followed by a compound move. This pre-exhausts the muscle being targeted and forces the synergist muscles to work harder. For example, perform a set of dumbbell lateral raises, which isolates the top of the shoulder, called the medial deltoid. Follow it with a set of a compound shoulder exercise, such as a shoulder press. Because the medial deltoid is tired from the first exercise, the front of the shoulder, the back of the shoulder and the triceps have to work harder during the presses than they would if you weren't prefatigued.
Supersets allow you to change up your strength-training routine every four to six weeks to avoid hitting plateaus. For one four-week session, you might perform normal sets, while the next four weeks you do muscle-group-specific supersets followed by another four-week program in which you do supersets between the lower and upper body. You can also adjust your superset routines by using a variety of equipment - doing an exercise with dumbbells immediately followed by an exercise using resistance tubing, for example.