Whether your goal is to build strength, muscular endurance or just look great in a sleeveless shirt (hey, we don't blame you!), supersets may be the golden ticket. The word might sound like advanced gym lingo, but supersets actually pretty simple — and effective.
Strength-training exercises can be performed in straight single sets, circuits or supersets, which is where you perform two exercises back-to-back without pausing between, according to the American Council on Exercise.
If you're chasing a good muscle pump, supersets with high reps are your best friend. Performing exercises for 12 to 15 reps will increase blood flow to your muscles, giving your upper body the pop you're looking for.
Superset 1: Flat Bench Press and Push-Ups
In this superset, the push-ups act as a drop set or burnout, as they follow a heavier loaded movement, Forzaglia says. "This is where we can get more reps and pump more blood into the muscle." On the push ups, really go for max effort — just make sure your form is still flawless.
Move 1: Flat Bench Press
- Lie on a flat bench with a barbell racked above you about eye level. Grip the barbell slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Press your feet into the ground and lift the barbell off the rack and over your chest, keeping your hips against the bench.
- Bending at the elbows, lower the barbell to chest height, letting the elbows dip slightly below the bench.
- Press your feet into the ground and push the barbell back up, arms fully extended.
Reps: 3 sets of 8 to 12
Move 2: Push-Ups
- Begin in a high plank position, hands directly beneath your shoulders, body in a straight line from head to hips to toes. Avoid hiking or sinking your hips.
- Bending at the elbows, begin to lower your chest toward the ground, keeping a flat back. Your elbows should form a 45-degree angle with your ribs.
- When your chest hovers an inch off the ground (or as far as you can go), exhale and press into the floor to return to high plank.
Reps: as many as possible with good form
Superset 2: Chest-Supported Rows and Bent-Over Flyes
These moves target your upper back, which will even out potential muscle imbalances and can help you stand taller, Frozaglia says. And they're better together, as they hit your back muscles from slightly different angles.
Move 1: Chest-Supported Rows
- Adjust an exercise bench to a low incline — about 45 degrees.
- Holding two dumbbells, position yourself on the bench facing the back, placing your chest against the bench. Keep your legs extended on the sides of the bench to support your body. Let your arms hang extended.
- On an exhale, row the dumbbells to chest height, pulling your shoulder blades back.
- Extend the arms again, letting the dumbbells hang.
Reps: 3 sets of 12 to 15
Move 2: Bent-Over Flyes
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- Keeping your back flat and neck long, hinge at your hips and bend your knees slightly.
- Holding this position, begin to raise the dumbbells out to your sides, keeping a slight bend in your elbows.
- Pause when your arms are fully extended at your sides (kind of like a T shape but with a slight bend in the elbow).
- In an arcing motion, bring the arms back to meet at the front of the body.
Reps: 3 sets of 20 reps
Superset 3: Seated Eccentric Military Press and Seated Lateral Raises
With these two shoulder exercises, you're really going to feel the burn. But avoid using momentum to lift the weights (if you find you are, lower the amount of weight). Keep the motions slow and controlled and isolated to your shoulders.
Move 1: Seated Eccentric Military Press
- Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height, the inner part of your wrist facing out.
- Quickly press the weights up over your shoulders until your arms are fully extended.
- Slowly lower the weights for 3 to 4 seconds until they reach shoulder height again, elbows dipping below shoulder height.
Reps: 3 sets of 12
Move 2: Seated Lateral Raises
- Sit on the edge of a flat bench, back straight, feet flat on the ground, a dumbbell in each hand held at your sides.
- On an exhale, raise the two dumbbells up, forming a T shape with your upper body.
- Lower the weights back to your sides, keeping the weight controlled.
Reps: 3 sets of 15
Read more: A Superset HIIT Workout Beginners Will Love
Superset 4: Dumbbell Skull Crushers and Dumbbell Close Grip Press
Time to target your triceps! Once you finish all your skull crusher reps, press the same dumbbells together and move right into the close-grip press, Forzaglia says. Just like with the bench press and push-up superset above, the dumbbell press will burn out your arm muscles.
Move 1: Dumbbell Skull Crushers
- Lie on a flat bench with a dumbbell in each hand, arms fully extended over your chest.
- Keeping your elbows in place, lower the weights toward the sides of your head, alongside your ears.
- Still keeping the elbow in place, reverse the motion and extend the arms again.
Move 2: Dumbbell Close-Grip Press
- Lie on a flat bench with two dumbbells in hand, arms fully extended over your chest.
- Touch the dumbbells together and hold them in this position through the whole move.
- Bend at your elbows and bring the dumbbells to chest height. Your elbows should be locked into your sides.
- On an exhale, press the dumbbells back up, keeping them together.
Reps: as many reps as possible, keeping good form
Bonus Round: "Run the Rack" Dumbbell Biceps Curls
"This is one of my favorite workouts because you achieve the most unreal pump quickly," Forzaglia says. Basically, you're burning out your biceps. But as with other burnout exercises, watch your form and don't use momentum to swing the weight. If your form starts to suffer, the set is over.
"Run the Rack" Dumbbell Biceps Curls
- Begin holding the heaviest weight you can curl with good form.
- Keeping your elbows close to your ribs, curl the weights up to chest height, keeping an underhand grip.
- With control, lower the weights back to your sides.
- Repeat this motion for 10 curls, then pick up weights that are 2 to 5 pounds lighter (depending on the weight you started with) and curl these weights for 10 reps.
- Keep working your way down in weight until you hit the 5-pound dumbbells and perform one final set of 10 curls.