Sometimes simple tweaks go a surprisingly loooong way toward refreshing your fitness routine and ensuring you keep seeing results. Supersets are one such strategy that can inject some life back into your workouts (and get your gains back on track)—without requiring you to reinvent your sweat sessions from scratch, drop your last paycheck on a new trainer, or throw in the towel on the whole shebang. Sounds pretty good, no?

You might’ve heard trainers use the term “superset” in strength classes or seen your fave fitfluencer post about it on IG—and the strength training technique is super popular for a reason: “Supersets increase your muscular endurance and allow you to burn more calories efficiently,” says Brittany Watts, CPT, a personal trainer at Performix House in New York City.

They also help you save time by minimizing your rest, making them good for your schedule and for your fitness. That’s why Watts uses ’em with all sorts of clients—from those who are short on time, to those who want to lose weight, and build muscle.

But what is a superset, really—and how can you use this strategy to pump up your own efforts? Read on for the full breakdown—and get ready for your most efficient, muscle-burning workouts yet.

What is a superset?

“A superset is just a way to program your workout in which you go from one exercise right into another, with no rest in between,” says Riley O’Donnell, CPT, an instructor at Fhitting Room in NYC.

So, instead of doing multiple sets of one move and resting in between each before continuing onto multiple sets of a second, you pair the two exercises together and wait to rest until after you’ve completed both—effectively cutting the amount of time you spend resting in half.

That said, supersets are not to be confused with compound sets. In a superset, your two paired exercises work opposing muscle groups, Watts explains. For example, you might start with biceps curls and then move straight into triceps kickbacks to hit the back of your upper arm while the front of it recovers. In a compound set, meanwhile, you group together two exercises for the same muscle group, she says. So, in this case, you might start with triceps kickbacks and continue with overhead triceps extensions to really challenge your tris.

What are the benefits of supersets?

The biggest benefit of formatting your workout this way is that you maximize your time spent sweating. “You can fit more exercises in a shorter amount of time, making your workout more efficient,” says O’Donnell.

But the true beauty of supersets is that you work one muscle group while allowing the opposing one to rest, so each group gets ample opportunity to bounce back but you never completely stop moving and end up scrolling through your phone between sets. This way, you can either squeeze more exercises into your usual workout time or head for the exit door a little earlier!

Plus, it’s also way more fun than doing the same exercise over and over to achieve the muscle fatigue you want to get strong and sculpted, O’Donnell says.

While most of the studies on supersets are small, they do highlight these same pay-offs. For example, supersets can cut down on training time without sacrificing effectiveness, one study published in The European Journal Of Applied Physiology found.

Another perk? “Supersets can be done by anyone who wants to improve endurance or increase hypertrophy [a.k.a. muscle mass],” Watts says. “When you go straight into your next set you challenge your body to work through fatigue, this will help you increase endurance.”

Are there any superset mistakes to avoid?

Though supersets don’t really have any downsides, you can mess with their effectiveness if you don’t plan (and execute!) them properly.

First things first: Don’t try to max out on exercises you pair in a superset. “That’s a quick way to get injured,” Watts explains. “If you are going to try to attempt a maximum load for a lift, you should focus on that one lift. Attempting another maximum could compromise form and lead to injury.” So, don’t go trying to squat as much as humanly possible and then immediately do the same on deadlift.

Your best bet: moderation. Work with a challenging-but-doable weight for your usual number of sets (say eight to 12). “The goal shouldn’t be how many reps you do by the end,” says O’Donnell. “Instead, focus on feeling a burnout by the end of the full superset.”

Who should do supersets?

Supersets work well for anyone looking to get stronger, O’Donnell says. People who are used to cardio might also find they love strength training this way because there’s not much downtime.

The lack of rest also makes supersets a great approach for those trying to lose weight, says Watts. After all, the more of your workout time you actually spend moving, the more calories you burn.

Finally, if you’re super busy, you’ll save so much time using supersets that you’ll never go back. Promise.

What exercises should I pair together in a superset?

When creating supersets, O’Donnell loves to combine a push and pull move for upper body, and hip- and knee-dominant exercises for lower body.

For upper body, that might look like a chest press and a bent-over row or pushups and pullups. For lower body, try a deadlift and a squat or a hamstring curl and a leg extension.

Orrr, just go ahead an follow along with this 10-minute superset abs workout the founders of Tone It Up programmed exclusively for Women’s Health:

How should I incorporate supersets into my workouts?

If you already have a slew of go-to moves you use in strength training workouts, all you have to do is reorganize them into the proper pairs to make the most of supersets.

What you do from there depends on your goals. If you want to focus on building muscle, aim for eight to 12 reps of each exercise, suggests O’Donnell. If you’re after pure strength, five to eight reps of each will do the trick.

After you complete both exercises in a superset, rest for anywhere from 30 to 90 seconds, she says. The less you rest, the more intense your session will feel. From there, repeat for three to six total supersets.

To get some cardio into your session, you can also go from your superset into something that gets your heart pumping, like kettlebell swings, med ball slams, or box jumps, O’Donnell recommends. Bam, your resistance training workout just became an all-around body blaster.

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