T Nation

Superset or Supersilly?

Hello all,
What are the negatives of supersets in a full body workout. If a workout consists of the following
military press

What are the benefits of supersetting exercises compared to the benefits of doing 2 or 3 sets straight without switching? Pros? Cons?


one of the main advantages of super sets is that they can save time. also if you use antagonist pairings (eg, horizontal push paired with a horizontal pull) you get a performance increase. the main reason i don’t always superset is due to the gym being crowded, or it being difficult to have to machines setup at once.

Your listed workout is fine if you planning on doing one hard work set per bodypart, but if you’re a proponent of mutiple set training it will prove to be too much.

Whole-body does NOT mean you have to exercise every muscle directly every workout.

For instance four exercises can provide some stimulation for most muscle groups:
(Forearm Curls)

Though no direct delt or arm work is done, these structures wil still get some stimulation. The last two parenthetical exercises can add some stimulation of “odd” structures

If you go for an A and B grouping, you can hit the rest of the structures directly the next time:

Military Press

Supersets work well with either protagonist-antagonist (alternate Pullups w/ Mil Press) or pre-fatigue:
Military Press immediately followed by Triceps exercise (extensions, pushdowns, etc.)

The P-A set-up can be a real time-saver as you do the two exercises with minimal rest between them and THEN take a good rest after the superset.

I use supersets whenever I am doing an EDT program. Works great. According to Staley, there is something about doing the second (opposing) exercise that enhances immediate recovery of the first exercise.

Check these links for info on EDT:



Benefits of supersets are:
Saves Time - pretty big plus
Increases HR - helps with VO2 Max and fat loss
Builds endurance
Can give a nice pump to a specific area of the body (ie arms)

Negatives of supersets are:
Decreases strength - somebody mentioned that supersets (antagonistic sets) increase performance, that is not correct. The specific fatigue effect of doing two exercises together instead of one outweighs any potential benefit. I have never seen anyone, ever, do a bunch of heavy rows in between their bench press attempts at a PL meet, of course they would if it would help them. This is why supersets are not that popular with strength athletes like powerlifters or olympic lifters.

Some exercises are hard to superset and it becomes more of a compound set (same muscle working) like squats and deadlifts

Large muscle group supersets like bench and pull-ups are very fatiguing and may be too challenging for beginners or people out of shape.

It isn’t silly at all.

Check some of Bill Starr’s writings, he is a big advocate of full-body circuit training.

Squat x 5- Pull x 5- Press x 5, that’s one circuit. Do five cicuits.

His theory is that it builds strength and stamina together.

Do you mean antagonistic pairing?

There really is no antagonistic other for compound leg exercises, so I like to pair them with isolated upper body exercises, or §rehab exercises.

Something like this:

squats / shrugs
deads/snatches / shoulder external rotation
bench / rows
pullups / military press
biceps / triceps