This video and blog will explain what is a superset training system, exploring two types of supersets and linking to your anatomy and physiology knowledge.
- What is a superset training system?
- The difference between Agonist-Antagonist Supersets and Compound Supersets
- 8-minute video tutorial linking superset training systems to your anatomy and physiology knowledge
- And Three Example Mock Questions to test your knowledge
What is a superset training system?
A superset is a training system whereby two exercises are performed back to back with no rest between.
Removing the rest is more demanding on the neurological system as there is no recovery in between, so muscle recruitment is being used maximally throughout the session.
This is great if your client is short on time, or you want more volume inside the available session duration.
This is more appropriate for intermediate clients, than beginner clients as they have already built a foundation of training through beginner training systems (basic sets and multiple sets) first.
The difference between Agonist-Antagonist Supersets and Compound Supersets
There are two different types of Supersets:
- Agonist- Antagonist Superset
- Compound Superset
Lets have a look at each of these in detail to understand what anatomical and physiological adaptation is occurring in each superset
What is an Agonist- Antagonist Superset?
The Agonist- Antagonist Superset uses Reciprocal Inhibition to recruit muscle fibres maximally.
All muscles work in pairs, and the law of reciprocal inhibition states that while one of those muscles is shortening and contracting, the other is relaxing and lengthening
An example of paired muscles include:
- Biceps Brachii and Triceps Brachii
- or Quadriceps and Hamstrings
During an Agonist- Antagonist Superset, your client would perform one exercise, and then have no rest before performing an exercise on the opposing muscle.
- 10 reps Biceps Curl followed by 10 reps Triceps Extension, each set to overload and no rest in between
- 12 reps Leg Extension followed by 12 reps Leg Curl, each set to overload and no rest in between
Key Note: Ensure that the exercises are direct opposites of each other, and use the same plane of motion.
for example you couldn’t combine a Lat Pull Down with chest press, as the Lat-Pull Down occurs in the frontal plane, and the chest press occurs in the sagittal plane and they are not direct opposites.
What is a Compound Superset?
The Compound Superset features two exercises back to back on the same MUSCLE.
This creates double the amount of overload on one muscle, as you re reaching overload on the first exercise, before moving onto another exercise (that targets the smae muscle) without any rest.
Usually the second exercise has a slightly different angle on the muscle fibres which allows for maximal recruitment across the whole superset.
- QUADRICEPS: 10 reps Squat followed by 10 reps Leg Press, each set to overload and no rest in between
- PECTORALIS MAJOR: 12 reps Bench Press followed by 12 reps Press Up, each set to overload and no rest in between
Key Note: Ensure that the exercises work the same muscle, rather than focusing on an area of body or muscle group.
Also make sure both exercises are compound (multi joint) like the examples above, or that both exercises are isolation (single joint) rather than combining them.
If you combine isolation and compound exercises, you would have a different training system called a pre or post exhaust.
for example, you couldn’t combine a Chest press with a Pec Fly, as the latter is an isolation exercise, and the former is compound. But you could have cable pec fly and dumbbell pec fly, as they are both isolation exericses.
Test your knowledge with 3 Mock Questions
Having learned about the two types of supersets, look at the three Mock questions below. Jot down your answer on a scrap paper or as a note on your phone.
Then scroll down to reveal the answers.
1) Which training system uses reciprocal inhibition to maximise muscle recruitment?
A. Multiple Sets
B. Agonist-Antagonist Superset
C. Compound Superset
2) What is a benefit of using compound superset training systems?
A. Works opposing muscles
B. Good for absolute beginners
C. More rest between exercises
D. Two lots of overload on the same muscle without rest
3) Which of the following is an example of a true Agonist-Antagonist Superset?
A. Shoulder Press and Lat Pull Down
B. Shoulder Press and Press Up
C. Press Up and Lat Pull Down
D. Press Up and Bicep Curl
Q1: Answer = B
Q2: Answer = D
Q3: Answer = A
There’s not just one Resistance Training System
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Dedicated to More
Hayley “What Is A Superset” Bergman
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