Superset Your Workouts to Save Time but Add Intensity

After missing a session with my trainer last week, I poked his brain on how to maximize my workouts when I'm short on time. One word: supersets. During supersets, you pair up two different sets of exercises, one right after the other, without resting in between sets. By doing so, you save time, add intensity, and help build muscle while also getting your heart rate up — hello, cardio!

POPSUGAR Photography | Benjamin Stone

Supersets are beneficial for cutting down time spent in the gym, but they're also a way to maximize what you're doing while there. If you don't have time for separate cardio and strength sessions, supersets come in handy. Because you move quickly through strength-training exercises, your heart responds with an elevated rate as it pumps oxygen to your muscles. Supersets can also aid in overloading muscle groups that need more targeting.

Depending on your goal, supersets can be used to work opposing or the same muscle groups. Work opposing muscle groups (like the legs and then the arms) to save on rest time; one muscle group gets to rest while the other muscle group works. And to increase the intensity of your workout, focus on the same muscles, but with different exercises. You can also do cardio supersets, which pairs a set of strength-training moves with a short burst of intense cardio. The last time I worked with my trainer, I did a cardio superset that involved sets of push-ups, squats, and lunges intermixed with two minutes on the elliptical at 90 RPM.

Interested? Here are a few supersets to try during your next workout:

  • Opposing muscle group superset idea: bicep curls followed by triceps kickbacks.
  • Same muscle group superset idea: wall sits followed by squats.
  • And the one I love to hate: push-ups followed by hip lifts.