The classic bodybuilding superset—two exercises done back-to-back for the same muscle group, with no rest in between—is one of the most commonly used techniques in any gym. Unfortunately, it’s probably the most misused, too. This month, learn to pair up exercises properly so you build muscle and shred fat without compromising your workout. Best of all, you’ll see results in as little as four weeks.

How it works

Supersetting two exercises for the same body part is flat-out exhausting. Imagine doing a barbell bench press and then dips right afterward. You might feel pumped up and strong after the first round, but midway through the second, your intensity will drop off, and you won’t be able to use the same weights or get the same number of reps.

That’s the danger of supersetting: burning out too fast, thereby reducing the overall quality of your workout.

Still, there’s value in working a muscle one way, then hitting it another way before it can fully recover; in fact, it’s a favorite technique of bodybuilders who want to add size fast. The trick is to combine a more challenging compound move with an easier isolation lift. If you do dumbbell bench presses then flyes, for example, your strength won’t be as compromised on the flyes because you have to go lighter anyway: Isolation lifts are meant to be done light and less explosively. This also means you won’t be too smoked to give the bench presses your all when you return to them on the next round.

Use supersets the smart way and you’ll not only send your muscles the message to grow, you’ll give them the means to do it.

Directions

Alternate the workouts (Day I and Day II) for three total sessions per week. So you’ll do Day I twice in Week 1 and Day II twice in Week 2. Exercises marked “A” and “B” are done without rest in between (superset). Afterward, rest 90 seconds, and repeat for the prescribed number of sets. Complete all sets for one group before going on to the next. Exercise 4 on both days is done as straight sets. Choose loads to start with that allow you two reps more than the target number, and note that you still may need to decrease the load on subsequent sets.