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8 Killer Superset Combos To Boost Workout Intensity And Invigorate Muscle Growth

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supersets, superset workout, superet workouts, types of supersets, superset examples, what is a superset, how to do a superset, superset exercises, fitness supersets, workout supersets, superset combinations

Remember this number — 32.

If you’re still relying exclusively on straight, traditional sets as your only workout technique (e.g. 3 sets of 12 reps), blow up your training before it gets stale. You’re bleeding intensity, vulnerable to plateaus, and leaving ENORMOUS potential on the table.

The simple solution: tap into your full fat-incinerating, muscle-building ability with supersets.

For the uninitiated, a superset is a series of 2+ exercises done back-to-back without rest. Think lateral raises followed by front raises. Or dips and push ups chained back-to-back, until your triceps spontaneously combust. If you’ve ever worked with a trainer or taken a boot camp class, you’ve definitely experienced them in all of their masochistic glory.

The superset universe is vast. Some supersets link unrelated exercises and muscle groups. Others combine similar exercises to tear up muscle tissue and push a specific muscle beyond failure. That acts as an uber-potent catalyst to help spark new growth. Some even blast opposing muscles back-to-back, as a way to generate uncharacteristic strength.

They typically follow one of four patterns, all of which have powerful benefits:

  • (A) Pre-Exhaustion (same muscle group) — these involve two exercises that hammer the same muscle group by using an (A) isolation exercise and then a (B) compound exercise. It’s an effective way to push an individual muscle head past the point of failure, and beyond where it can go with straight sets. That helps dig into muscle tissue and spark new growth. For instance, you could do a lateral raise—which hits the lateral deltoid—and then a dumbbell shoulder press, which uses all 3 deltoid heads. On the press, you’re using the front + rear deltoids, triceps, etc. to help compensate for the fatigued lateral deltoid, which pushes it past failure.
  • (B) Post-Exhaustion (same muscle group) — same concept, but the order is flipped. These start with a compound lift and finish with a smaller isolation exercise; usually one that involves a different movement pattern. It’s an effective way to heat up an entire muscle group and push the limits of fatigue. Doing a dumbbell chest press followed by dumbbell flies is chest massacre.
  • (C) Antagonistic Supersets (opposing muscles) — muscles tend to generate a stronger contraction when they’re preceded by contractions in an opposing muscle group. Blood is also pumped to a common region, which creates skin-tearing pumps and vascularity. Doing rows and then a bench press, or biceps curls and then triceps extensions, is a powerful way to generate extra strength during a given set.
  • (D) Staggered Supersets (unrelated muscle groups) — by combining unrelated exercises, it slashes rest time, keeps the intensity soaring, and helps maintain an elevated heart rate. That equates to increased calorie burn, without any decreases in strength/performance. It also drastically cuts total workout time. By doing curls or planks in between sets of squats, you’ll maintain a high intensity AND consolidate your workout.

Altogether, they’re an effective tool to help galvanize new muscle growth, condense workout time, and pump out more sets in a shorter window. You’ll also boost fat-burning ability. One study out of Syracuse revealed that antagonistic supersets burned 32% more calories—both during a workout AND afterwards (courtesy of EPOC)—than traditional resistance training did.1

They also obliterate plateaus by adding variety and upping the stress on individual muscles. Challenge and change are key elements of growth — supersets do both, in a way that isn’t insufferable or excruciating.

To help invigorate your workouts, we’ve unloaded 8 killer superset combos. Squeeze in all 8 to heat up your workouts and thrash your muscles until the burn rages.


8 Killer Superset Combos To Boost Workout Intensity And Invigorate Muscle Growth

supersets, superset workout, superet workouts, types of supersets, superset examples, what is a superset, how to do a superset, superset exercises, fitness supersets, workout supersets, superset combinations


1. Dumbbell Chest Press + Dumbbell Flies

supersets, superset workout, superet workouts, types of supersets, superset examples, what is a superset, how to do a superset, superset exercises, fitness supersets, workout supersets, superset combinations

How To:

Superset Type: Post-Exhaustion

Target Muscle(s): Chest (Sternal Head)

Do 12 reps of the Dumbbell Chest Press immediately followed by 12 Dumbbell Flies. They’re an effective way to hit the entire chest and add mass to the upper body, with an additional emphasis on the inner chest and midline.

Make sure to use a lighter set of dumbbells when switching to flies.



2. Dumbbell Lateral Raises + Dumbbell Shoulder Press

supersets, superset workout, superet workouts, types of supersets, superset examples, what is a superset, how to do a superset, superset exercises, fitness supersets, workout supersets, superset combinations

How To:

Superset Type: Pre-Exhaustion

Target Muscle(s): Shoulders (Lateral Deltoids)

Do 12 reps of Dumbbell Lateral Raises immediately followed by 8-12 reps of the Dumbbell Shoulder Press. It’s a pre-exhaustion superset. Push through the burn and try to hit 12 on set 2 if possible.

By fatiguing the lateral deltoid during the first half, you’re able to push it far past failure during the set of presses. You’ll feel a slow burn down the middle of your shoulders—that’s your lateral deltoid screaming—but your front delts, rear delts, triceps, and traps will more than compensate. It’s a 1-2 punch to effectively add width to your shoulders.

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References, Notes, Links

  1. Kelleher AR, Hackney KJ, Fairchild TJ, Keslacy S, Ploutz-Snyder LL. The metabolic costs of reciprocal supersets vs. traditional resistance exercise in young recreationally active adults. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Apr;24(4):1043-51. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181d3e993. []


Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  • Trainer 4761

    These were great! Used a few of the concepts in my small group training class and my participants loved to hate everyone!! Thanks keep’em coming

  • Ryan

    All of the article on this site are very difficult to print or save as pdf. I’d love to add these to my library…

  • Jacob Emerson

    Bookmarking this for future reference, thanks Bryan! also let me add that if you want to build muscles than you have to start off by watching your diet, you can’t just expect to lift a bunch of weights and build muscle if your diet sucks, lifting weights is easy, but cutting out junk food can be tough, when you have finally gotten your diet in check than focus on lifting heavy and hard, but the most important thing is being consistent and keeping a log and a good routine going, you won’t get very far if your inconsistent in this game, start off by doing big compound movements, such as squats, pull ups, dead lifts and such, I know it’s tough for a lot of folks to find a good routine to keep them going but it’s vital that you do this, I’ve made some amazing gains in just a few months thanks to the advice I got over at this guy really helped me get a great program going that allows me to keep track of my weight and gains using a really neat tool, as well as an awesome routine, anyways good luck and never give up on your journey to making big gains!

  • Nikitas Gagas

    I’m a bit late to the party but hoping you’re still around to answer my question: do we do one of each superset or do we do them each 2-3 times? Thanks for the great workout.

    • Titox

      Normally when you are looking for hypertrophy, you have to aim 3-4 repetitions of every superset. Remember, just use normal weights where you can stretch your muscles for full benefit.

  • Hi Bryan, the 8 supersets can be done Monday thru Friday?

  • Another point…. say for example… 12 of Dumbbell Chest Press followed by 12 of Dumbbell flys. Now this is 1 set. After this, I move to the 2nd superset, right? Are all the supersets to be done as 1 set? Please clarify.

    • A few things:

      1. This ISN’T a workout plan and isn’t laid out like that. It’s designed to give you examples of 8 different types of supersets, so that you can then add them to your own workout plan (and they’ll appear in a lot of the ones I design).

      So for instance, if you’re doing a chest workout, 3 supersets of the DB Press + DB Fly could be the first thing you do. And then maybe you’d follow it up with dips, an incline bench press, cable crossover, push ups, etcccccc to form a full chest routine.

      2. Yup, 12 DB Chest Press + 12 DB Flies (done back-to-back, without any rest) represents ONE set in your workout — all supersets are done in this way.

      I’d recommend doing 3 “supersets” of a given pair in a given workout.

  • Hi Bryan. I wish it was a workout plan. I would have loved to do this 3 to 4 sets each superset, 5 days a week.

    Anyway, it was kind of you to write to me.

    All the best.

    • There’s no reason why you can’t turn this into a full-body workout plan, but I’d recommend at least 1 day off in between each session (for rest and recovery). It’ll be highly intense and hard on the body.

      Do 2 supersets for each pair, 12 reps + 12 reps of each exercise. For #7 do 60 bicycle crunches + a 60 second plank.

  • hmmm… I am trying to understand what you have written. This means I can do these supersets say 3 times a week, right?

    Or…. I do these 5 days but with low weights… like 2.5 kg? If you agree to this, then can the reps be increased from 12 to 15?

    Or, do I do the supersets 4 days, with wed, sat and sun off? I normally keep sat and sun off for my muscle recovery.

    Also, for superset #8, can you give me an alternative. Supersets #1 to #7 are okay with me.

  • Miriam Gabriela

    Hola Bryan! I’m currently recovering from a level 1 calf injury. However, I am able to workout upper body by sitting or laying. I’d love to try the superset combo program, wondering if you could recommend another combo set that didn’t include squats since it puts on a lot of weight on the lower body.

    • Hey Miriam — go with upright rows followed by a front plate raise (3 supersets, 12+12 reps).

      Recover up!