# 11 – How to do superset training and why supersets workouts for fat loss and muscle tone?

Hi this is Jim from Jimshealthandmuscle.com and Audiofittest.com and today I’m going to talk about Superset training – Basically all things Supersets!

What is superset training?

In a nut shell – A superset is a sequence of two exercises performed directly after each other with no rest in between. These exercises are traditionally resistance exercises.

An example of this could be a set of 12 push ups followed immediately by a set of 12 chin ups so you are essentially performing a set of 25 reps.

Like all types of training, supersets has evolved and is used in many ways but originally it was designed to hit opposing muscle groups. This is why I used pushups and chins as the example – Pushups are an exercise that targets the pecs (Front of the upper torso) and chins are an exercise designed to hit the Lats, these big back muscles directly oppose the chest muscles.

To add to this, push ups use a synergist muscle which is the tricep, located on the rear upper arm and chins use the bicep as a synergist which is located on the upper front of the arm, so any kind of chest press and any kind of row or pull down movement are perfect for using supersets with.

With the whole opposing muscle groups in mind when using supersets here is a list of exercise choices that fit this bill –

Superset workout exercises for fat loss & muscle tone:

  • Bench press & Bent over Rows (Chest & back)
  • Hack squats & lying leg curl (quads & hamstrings)
  • Bicep curls & Tricep pushdowns (Biceps and Triceps)
  • Leg extensions and stiff leg deadlift (Quads & Hamstrings)
  • Crunches & dorsal raises (Abdominals & Lower back)

So these are the main opposing muscle groups that can be targeted in the way that superset training was originally used for. But as I said, there are many other ways to use supersets and this all boils down to what you want out of your training and we’ll talk about that in a bit.

Why would you use superset training?

If you are a bodybuilder it’s a great way to stimulate you opposing muscle groups and add extra intensity. This is a good idea when you reach a plateau in muscle growth and need to switch things up a bit. You may also want to throw these in if you identify a weakness. An example of this is if your lats are under developed, you might want to throw in a chest/ lat superset on your chest days to give your back an extra workout each week.

I know that most people who are likely to listen to these podcasts are not bodybuilders and don’t want to be bodybuilders so I want to focus on using what is essentially a bodybuilding training method in a more universal way.

However, one thing that I have always believed in and openly tell everyone is that if you train like a bodybuilder, you will have the best results when it comes to ascetics and balance of your overall physique and function. Ok so when I say “bodybuilder” I mean a “competitive bodybuilder”. Not your average gym rat, meat head or “bro” or whatever you want to call these guys… And I think I can use these terms because I used to be one myself!

It’s obvious to me that this bodybuilding approach will uncover the maximum potential in a trainers physique because if you think about it; a good bodybuilder trains for strength, symmetry and balance of all muscle groups. Because of the need for symmetry, balance and the training that comes from posing techniques and awareness of form while training, the connection with each muscle group and posing the bodybuilder will also develop good posture which is valuable for so many health and lifestyle reasons.

Anyway, I could talk about bodybuilding all day but that’s not why we are here. Today is all about superset training.

So, training opposing muscle groups was the main rule for superset training back in the day, but what happens if you throw this rule out?

Do you have to use opposing muscle groups for superset training?

If you get rid of this rule it opens up the whole superset training idea to so much more and it can make your training shorter sharper and more intensive.

If you are the trainer that’s new to exercise or you have been training for a while but never used supersets, it might be a good idea to start training in this way a few times per week.

One big thing to consider when it comes to any type of training is to think about why you are exercising in the first place. I touched on this earlier so now we will address it.

Before you start any type of exercise routine, the first thing you need to thing about is what you want to achieve from your training.

Do you want to build more muscle? Do you want to be a faster short distance runner? Do you want to be a better long distance runner? Do you want to lower your body fat percentage? Do you want to tone up your major muscle groups? Do you want to build strength in a certain part of your body?

Whatever your goal, there is a way that you can incorporate superset training but if you have a certain idea as to the outcome of your training, you need to train with that in mind.

For example, If I wanted to train for long distance running event as a priority, hitting a superset session that aimed to strengthen my biceps and triceps would not be the best use of my time. It would be far more advantageous to train my quads and hamstrings in a high rep range or even drop in a superset that incorporated a cardio exercise…. Yes, I believe you can use supersets for a cardio goal too! More on that later.

So have this in mind if you decide to give superset training as shot.

I know that most people who are interested in working out that and are likely to listen to these podcasts are after a way to lose body fat and to tone muscle to look and feel good. This is a general fitness goal rather than a sports specific goal and as it is less niche, there are far more ways to achieve these goals, so superset training can be adapted and used very nicely for this fitness goal.

Because the goal of lowering body fat percentage and toning muscle is a common goal, and because I am trying to get some good information in to a 20min podcast, this is where the focus will be.

There are two big advantages of superset training or a trainer who’s goal is to lower body fat and to tone muscle.

If being an athlete isn’t our job and we have a family life, superset training can offer a way to get an effective resistance workout done in half the time. Well maybe not half the time, but it will definitely save time as you a lot of time. This is obviously because you will be resting a lot less between sets and effectively cutting your sets in half.

The next benefit of superset training for fat loss and muscle tone is that because your sets are now twice as long, you will be working your body by twice as much per set which means your heart rate will be raised for longer, which also means you will be burning more energy per set and we all know that more energy used, means more calories burned, which means more fat loss!

So you can create a really sharp, short and effective resistance training session if fat loss and muscle tone is your goal.

Right, this is where I will go back to the mentality of a competitive bodybuilder- If you do want to dedicate a whole training session to superset training, you should definitely think about hitting all of your muscle groups.

So here is an example training session that you can follow if you want to burn fat, tone muscle and you want to use supersets exclusively.

First of all we need to consider our goal. This is to burn fat and tone muscle. This means that we should aim to hit 12 – 15 reps per exercise by using a resistance level that challenges us. This is important! Go and listen to episode #7 “Most efficient fat burning and fitness mind set for the beginner…” if you haven’t done so already, it could be a life changer  and explains exactly why this is so important.

Ok, so we have a fitness goal that dictates the rep range we need to work with. Now we need some exercises to superset with.  If we put on our bodybuilding head, we know that the best thing to do is train all of our muscle groups equally and because we are trying to be efficient and want to get the most out of each set, we should focus only on compound movements.

Compound movements are exercise movements that use more than one muscle group per rep and they are generally big movements. Each compound movement will have a main target muscle group but it will also have at least one “synergist”. I know one of the USP’s of these podcasts is to use plane language and no jargon but this is useful to know so I think it’s worth saying –

A synergist is a muscle that aids the movement of another. For example: If you do a pushup, the main target of the exercise is to hit your chest muscles, but to achieve this movement, your triceps need to engauge and help complete the movement, so the triceps become the synergists.

Another example; When you perform a bent over row, it is your big back muscles or lats that are your main target, but the nature of the movement means that your biceps become a synergist along with your traps.

An easy way to identify a compound movement is to see if it uses more than one joint to complete a rep. For example, with a squat, the main target muscles are the quads, but when a squat is performed, you will have used your knees, hips and ankles at the end of each rep. This is a compound movement.

The other type of movement is an “Isolation” exercise. If you want an isolation exercise for your quads, you could use seated leg extension. When you complete one rep of seated leg extension, you have only used one joint and that is your kneed joint.

When you compare what it takes to perform one rep of a squat and one rep of a seated leg extension, you will see that the energy used is far more from the squat and there are a lot more muscles used to perform a squat but one rep of leg extensions and one rep of squats takes about the same time to perform.

This means that if you want value when it comes to calories burned from a leg exercise, you should pick squats over leg extensions..

With this in mind and to align with our goals of fat burning and muscle tone and to also incorporate supersets, we will design a workout that fits –

So if you want to train exclusively with supersets and you want good results when it comes to fat burning and muscle toning, this is what you should do:

You should do this routine at least 3 times per week. To get results you need consistency!

You should do a 5 min warm up before each session. I suggest a blast on the cross trainer or elliptical machine using the handles to get your shoulder joints warm as well as your hips and knees and then jump into this workout.

A superset workout for fat loss and muscle tone:

Each exercise will be performed with 12 reps to start with

Superset 1 –

  • Pushups or pushups on knees (12 reps)
    • Bent over row with barbell (12 reps)
    • Rest for no more than 2 minutes and repeat 3 times

Superset 2 –

  • Squats (12 reps)
    • Shoulder press (12 reps)
    • Rest for no more than 2 minutes and repeat 3 times

Superset 3 –

  • Bicep curls (12 reps)
    • Tricep dips (12 reps)
    • Rest for no more than 2 minutes and repeat 3 times

Superset 4 –

  • Swissball crunches (12 reps)
    • Dorsal raises (12 reps)
    • Rest for no more than 2 minutes and repeat 3 times

This is a simple, all over workout using supersets to focus on our fitness goal to burn fat and increase muscle tone. If you fancy giving this a go great! Let me know how you get on.

As I mentioned, you should aim to do this workout at least 3 times per week if you are going to train exclusively with supersets. Also if you do want to add another dimension of fat burning and increase your results, you can throw in a 30 – 45 min cardio session in right at the end.

If you go right into a steady state cardio session or even interval session at the end of a superset workout, you will be starting off right in your fat burning zone so it makes it that little bit more efficient.

Again, I have spoken about this before. If you want to hear what I have to say about fat burning zones and you want to find yours, you can go and listen to episode #10 “      Walking for Weight Loss, fasted Cardio & Interval training”.

As I mentioned near the beginning, I don’t see why you can’t use the superset training method for certain cardio or aerobic exercises or even superset an aerobic exercise such as jumping jacks with a resistance exercise like squats or shoulder press. If you were going to look into doing this though I would suggest that you revisit your training goal and see this type of training does fit.

So that was just an introductory chat into the basics of superset training and this is the part where I try and sell you one of my books! Only kidding! If you like the idea I’ll invite you to take a look. Obviously, I would think you were awesome if you did decide to buy one!

Anyway, believe it or not, I have actually written a pretty lengthy book on the subject of superset training and it should help anyone with their resistance and cardio training. There are plenty of examples of different ways to train when it comes to supersets that you can follow directly in there.

If you have listened to any of my stuff before or indeed read any of my training guides, you will know that I am focused on giving advice that gets long term fitness results and I always preach self-education especially when it comes to fitness and exercise. This is why I also give you the tools to help you create your own superset workouts based on your personal fitness goals.

So if you do fancy checking the book out, it’s on Amazon and its creatively titled “Jim’s weight training guide superset style”

Let me know what you think of the book and as always I’m happy to answer any questions or help where I can so feel free to give me a shout.

I hope this has been useful and I look forward to chatting again! Until next time, all the best



  1. So can you do a push/legs/pull/legs routine 4 days a week superset style? Or could you do supersets 5 days a week ?

    1. Hi! Thanks for listening, I hope this is helpful. I’m not sure what you mean by “push/legs/pull/legs” but depending on the intensity of your gym sessions and your goal, 4 -5 sessions on the same muscle group might be a bit much as this will not give you enough recovery time.

      An example of a superset legs training session for toning and shaping would be –

      – Superset leg extensions with lying leg curl at 3 sets of 12 – 15 reps (These isolation exercises will pre exhaust your quads and hamstrings)
      – Superset Squats with stiff leg deadlifts (Squats is a great compound exercise for all of your leg muscles and the deadlifts will hit your hamstrings)

      Again, depending on your goal, you will have to adjust the resistance level and sets and rep range to suit.

      This is just one body part though. There are tones of ways to use supersets. With this as an example, you may even want to add the supersets into a full body 2 day split program where you still use the quads and hamstring option as mentioned above but you superset squats with a pre exhaust shoulder exercise like dumbbell flyes, before moving onto the next superset of shoulder press and bicep curls.

      You can get really creative with this stuff but it is definitely worth mentioning again that your exercises choices and your overall training goal should be takin into consideration before planning.

      Last thing – I would advise that the training frequency for this example, if you are working at 60% of your 1 rep max should be no more than twice per week and not done on consecutive days.

      Thanks again for the question!

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