In my experience, you can superset pretty much anything to crank up your workout intensity a notch. It’s no different with compound exercises.
Now, keep in mind that if you’re after strength gains primarily using compound exercises, supersetting will compromise your gains. It’s probably not the best program for you. But, if you’re looking to add intensity to your workout for leaning down or building muscle, supersetting with compounds can be great.
As with most superset programs, you have many ways to structure the supersets. The following are several options:
1. Compound/Compound – Same Muscle
Here you do one set of compound followed by a compound targeting the same muscle. An example is barbell bench press followed by DB bench press.
Example: Squats followed by deadlifts. Note, compound/compound targeting the same muscle may be overkill. It’s certainly not my preferred format.
2. Compound/Compound – Different Muscle
Here you target one muscle and in the second set within the superset, you target another muscle.
Example: Squats followed by bent over rows.
You may want to change up the muscle you target first in the superset so that over the course of the workout you can apply consistent energy to each muscle group.
3. Compound/Isolation – Same Muscle
Same as #1 above, except you pair compound with isolation (i.e. cable/machine).
Example: Barbell curls followed by cable preacher curls.
4. Compound/Isolation – Different Muscle
Same as #2 above, except you pair compound with isolation (i.e. cable/machine).
Example: Close grip bench press followed by cable push downs.
Here you do cardio in between compound sets. You could do a cardio machine, plyometrics, running on the spot, yoga sun salutations … any type of cardio work. Read this article on supersets for weight loss to learn more.
Example: Deadlifts followed by burpees (this is a brutal superset mix).
Yes, you can do yoga stretches in between compound exercises. It’s unusual, but I’ve done it.
Example: Compound exercise followed by sun salutation.
You also need to decide on a program schedule. Will it be a full body workout or a split? This makes a big difference.
The supeset is comprised of 2 sets. The structure of the 2 sets will depend on the structure you choose from above (i.e. compound/compound, compound/isolation, etc.).
My favorite method of supersetting compound exercises is doing the same muscle for both sets starting with a compound move and doing an isolation exercise for the second set within the superset.
For example, bench press followed by cable flyes.
=> Get my free book on supersets on the right side of this website (scroll down a bit).
=> Sample Superset Workout (4 Day Split)
=> Superset FAQ