Superset For Super Gains

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Shorter Version

Est. Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Supersets are an invaluable tool in any weight-lifter’s arsenal, but the antagonistic superset is in a league of its own. This involves combining two different exercises of opposing body parts which you alternate between for several sets. For example, let’s say I’m hitting back and triceps. I might hit a set of neutral-grip narrow pulldowns for my lats and rhomboids. After approaching or reaching failure, I immediately move on to overhead rope extensions for my triceps. During this set, my back is completely uninvolved and can recover a bit while my triceps take on the workload. As soon as I approach or reach failure on rope extensions, I immediately move back to the pulldowns, where my now-exhausted triceps can take their much-needed rest.

Rock it back and forth

I will oscillate between these two motions anywhere from three to ten times, depending on how it feels, adjusting the weights up or down to suit my preference. Remember not to fixate on a specific rep range or number of sets. Focus on the burn, your breath, and nothing else. I’ve gotten myself into such a good zone before that I performed this exact superset for my entire workout. I was so sore that I couldn’t wash between my shoulder blades for a week.

It was glorious.

Isolate the muscles

For antagonist supersets to work as intended, you MUST fully isolate the opposing muscle groups involved in the rotation. The triceps extensions in this example are supposed to be as taxing for the lats as merely resting on the bench. You’ve just taken your lats to failure, and are moments away from repeating the process. If you don’t develop the ability to isolate, then actually recovering your back while taking your triceps to failure will be impossible.

Supersets for the win

Once you master this isolation, you will notice how the continual movement brought about by super-setting will significantly increase your heart rate, abetting fat loss and improving your cardiovascular endurance in much more amusing and efficient means than merely jogging on a treadmill. Like most of you, I work full time, I love to travel, and I will always prioritize spending time with friends and family. I don’t have time to spend an hour lifting weights and thirty minutes doing cardio every day.

With the antagonist superset, I am able to COMBINE my weight training with my fat burning.

This saves me precious moments of time that I can spend on the things I love most.

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Actionable Steps


Read the longer version

To read a “Longer Version” of this topic, reviewed by our professional to be the best, check out these articles: Supersets For Growth by, What Is A Superset by LiveStrong, Superset Workouts, Twice The Gains In Half The Time by CoachMag.


Pick the right exercises

Pick two exercises that target opposing muscle groups. I like to combine some form of curl with a shoulder or chest movement, a triceps exercise with a pulldown or row, and a leg motion with any upper-body lift.


Minimize your gym real estate!

Nothing will get you on people’s bad side quicker than taking up three different machines spread 40 feet apart in the middle of prime time. Using dumbbells or kettlebells for one half of a superset is an easy way to avoid this, as most gyms have two or three pairs of each weight.


Keep a good water bottle handy!

To take full advantage of the antagonistic superset, you don’t have the luxury of rest breaks. A quick splash from your bottle is fine, but spending two full minutes walking to the fountain and back is enough to break your focus and allow the muscle to recuperate.


Drop the weight!!

If you get a few minutes into your superset and notice that your form is beginning to fade, simply reduce the weight and continue without missing a beat. Moving heavy weights is great, but only if you can control it.

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About the Author

John DeLuca

John DeLuca


After a brief stint in the Men’s Physique competition realm, and even winning first place in his final show, John decided to use his expertise to help normal, everyday people create the body they’ve always desired. His book, “The Busy Body: Principles for Building a Great Physique without Missing out on Life” is the culmination of over a decade of honing his craft. John is currently an RN in the Cardio-Thoracic Surgery ICU at Duke Hospital.
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