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iStock 000014632973Large 200x300 Forget Single Sets...SUPERSET FOR MASS GAINS

Some bodybuilders use supersets to shock muscles, and quite often, for a change of pace. But you can use supersets for mass gain more frequently and that’s just something no one tells you in this 6 to 8 rep mass monster world!

Supersets are defined as performing two exercises back to back with no rest in between. They can either be exercises that work the same muscle group, or different muscle groups. Different muscle group supersets are called antagonistic supersets.

Working the same muscle group typically means that you are “pre-exhausting” that muscle group and then going back in immediately (with a slightly different movement and angle) to work it when it’s already fatigued. Usually people combine an isolative movement with a compound movement.

In a biceps workout, that would mean pre-exhaustion with preacher curls, followed by standing barbell curls. In a leg workout, that would mean leg extensions, followed by leg press or squats.

You can also use supersets for post-exhaustion. Larger muscle groups benefit from this technique more than small ones. Back and leg workouts using pre-exhaustion sets and exercises allow that muscle group to benefit from doing the heaviest movement first, followed by a lighter set of something different.

A good example would be doing a heavy set of bench press, followed by a set of flyes with dumbbells.

Varying workouts between antagonistic supersets (using two different body parts) and focus on supersets that are both pre-exhaustive and post-exhaustive, is the key to growth using supersets.
The great thing about supersets is that you don’t have to rewrite your workouts in the least. So, if you are planning on doing 5 sets of bench press followed by 5 sets of flat bench or incline dumbbell flyes, you can still do that, but you’ll be doing them in dynamic successive layers, rather than in static sets of one exercise at a time.

So let’s say you’re doing back and chest on a given day. This is an antagonistic pair. Working them into a superset together. A bent over row is a negative bench press and a bench press is a negative bent over row. In this way it’s easier to understand why they pair. One helps the other recover much more rapidly.

You’ll also probably see that you’re stronger in each of the antagonistic elements of the pair, because of the longer rest time. But yet, it’s building mass in ways that static workouts cannot because you’re getting the benefit of stretch from one into the other to recover, and are keeping the area enriched in reparative blood and oxygen.

The other benefit to supersets is getting more done in less time. That also prevents a mentality of overtraining and over staying your welcome in the gym each day. Meaning: You will get in, get your work done, and get out. That prevents burnout in the end, and also keeps you more on task and talking less.


  • Leg Press – SS – Reverse Lunge (smith machine)
  • Leg Extensions – SS -  Leg Curl
  • Leg Press – SS – Barbell Lunge
  • Bench Press – SS – Seated Row
  • Bench Press  – SS – Incline Flyes
  • Dumbbell Bench Press – SS -  Decline Flyes
  • Dumbbell Bench – SS -  One-Arm Rows
  • Incline Barbell Press – SS – Pull-ups
  • Barbell Press (military) – SS – Lateral Raises
  • Close-Grip Bench – SS – Skull crushers (with EZ curl bar)
  • Barbell Curls – SS – Preacher Curls

A word of caution if you are supersetting for strength gains:
Using same-muscle group supersets can defeat the purpose of strength gains. Take the last superset: Barbell curls superset with Preacher curls. Exhausting your biceps early will prevent strength gains.  If in a traditional workout you were able to do 4 sets of 8 reps, using 70 pounds, with a superset that weight will diminish by the fourth set and you’ll be lifting much less.

Strength gains are typically achieved by adding more weight each set in a static upward pattern, with maybe one set at the end that is lighter to pull lactic acid from muscles. Supersets won’t allow you that ascent in each set.

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