Supersets are two exercises performed back-to-back with little to no rest between them. After completing both exercises, you briefly rest (1-2 minutes) and then repeat for a predetermined amount of times.
Supersets can be performed a few different ways, but two of the most common forms of supersets are:
- Agonist/Antagonist supersets where you work opposing muscle groups (biceps and triceps, chest and back, quads and hamstrings)
- Compound supersets where you attack the same body part with two exercises
The beauty of supersets is that it allows you to accumulate a lot of training volume in a short amount of time, which can be beneficial for individuals who are limited in the amount of time they have to train.
Additionally, if you are performing supersets using opposing muscle groups, you may also benefit from greater strength and bigger, nastier muscle pumps. The reason for this is due to a phenomenon known as reciprocal innervation.
Essentially, while one side of your body is working (e.g. biceps), the other side (e.g. triceps) relaxes which improves recovery and allows for more weight to be lifted the following set. There’s also some evidence that training opposing muscle groups improves blood flow to the two areas, leading to better nutrient delivery, cellular swelling, and pumps!
For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on supersets involving opposing muscle groups. And, we can’t think of a more classic superset pairing than biceps and triceps.
Today, we give you three of our all-time favorite biceps and triceps supersets to add to your next arm day workout.
3 Best Arm Supersets for Biceps and Triceps
Dumbbell Incline Triceps Extension / Spider Curl
The reason we love using the incline triceps extension is that it places a stretch on the long head of the tricep, a feature missing from other common triceps exercises, such as the close-grip bench press, dip, or tricep pushdown.
Since the long head of the tricep attaches to the scapula, in order to get a complete stretch on it (and ultimately a max contraction), you need to get the arm up and overhead. The incline triceps extension provides that, and it’s also more joint-friendly as dumbbells allow you to rotate your wrists and elbows into the most comfortable position for your anatomy.
What makes the spider curl one of the best bicep exercises is that it places peak tension on the biceps in the contracted position. Typical standing or seated curls are hardest on the biceps at the midpoint of the curl where your upper arm and lower arm form a 90-degree angle. However, these exercises are relatively “easy” at the bottom and top of the movement.
This is one of the reasons it is important to use a variety of exercises in your workouts that apply different load vectors on your muscles so that you can stress them at various angles, which leads to better overall muscle growth.
Tricep Pushdown & Rope Hammer Curl
Similar to our previous superset, this pairing keeps you in one place. There’s no need to run from one end of the gym to the other.
And, it’s also one of our favorite ways to begin our arm day workouts.
For the tricep pushdown, you can use either a rope attachment or a pair of spongy-grip handles attached to a cable column. We prefer either option compared to a straight bar or v-bar since the rope or handles allow the hands to travel to the sides of the body, allowing for a more complete contraction of the triceps. It’s also more friendly on the wrists as they can rotate naturally and are not fixed in place by a bar.
As with all pushdowns, make sure to keep your elbows fixed to your side. Allowing them to drift forward or backward removes tension from the triceps.
Hammer curls, in addition to working the biceps, also hit the brachialis, a smaller muscle that lies between the biceps and triceps. It assists in elbow flexion, and while it doesn’t get quite the same love as the biceps, it plays a big role in the appearance of your arms.
A well-developed brachialis gives the appearance of a “knot” in between your biceps and triceps, which helps provide greater separation and definition in your arms when they’re flexed. It also helps push the biceps up, giving the illusion of a better biceps peak.
The use of the cable column also allows for constant tension to be placed on the biceps throughout the entire range of motion, compared to standard dumbbell hammer curls which suffer from a decrease in tension on the biceps at the top and bottom of the movement.
Tricep Pullover + Tricep Press + EZ Bar Curl
The tricep pullover + press is a combination exercise that attacks all three heads of the triceps. The pullover portion of the exercise helps place a stretch on the long head of the triceps, while the press emphasizes the medial and lateral heads.
Another benefit of performing this combo exercise is the added time under tension your triceps receives, which forces more blood to the muscles and encourages greater metabolic stress, promoting more muscle growth.
This exercise can be performed with either a straight bar or an EZ-bar.
The EZ bar curl really needs little explanation. It allows you to load up a considerable amount of weight and smash your biceps with high levels of tension. Make sure to use good form, squeeze at the top of every rep, and control the negative, all of which help you get the most from a standard curl.
Complete Bicep and Tricep Superset Arm Workout
Perform each pair of exercises in the superset with little-to-no rest between them. After both exercises are complete rest for 90-120 seconds and repeat for the prescribed number of times.
Perform each superset a total of 3-4 times.
- Tricep Pushdown: 10-12 reps
- Cable Hammer Curl: 10-12 reps
- Dumbbell Incline Triceps Extension: 8-12 reps
- Spider Curl: 8-12 reps
- Tricep Pullover + Press: 8-12 reps
- EZ Bar Curl: 8-12 reps