Is your current routine stale? You can increase endurance, destroy plateaus, and get an incredible pump with the 5/10/20 superset method.


  • a set that includes another set or sets
  • a combination of exercises done consecutively with no rest between
  • the best way to get a massive pump, bro

Ever since I started lifting weights as a teenager, I have loved using supersets in my training.

By definition, there are two main ways to implement supersets. The first being to combine exercises together that target the same muscle. An example would be a superset of shoulder flys and front raises.

The second common method for supersets is to take two exercises that are antagonistic - meaning that they work opposing muscle groups. An example of this style would be to perform a set of dumbbell curls (biceps) and superset it with a set of DB skull crushers (triceps).

The great thing about both styles is you can accomplish more in the same time frame in the gym, and you are guaranteed to keep your heart rate up by taking less rest.

But with those benefits comes a down side - sometimes lifters mistake breathing hard for working hard, and without a solid structure in place, you may not be getting as much out of your supersets as you think. Due to the “cardio” effect and the inevitable muscle fatigue, it’s common for people to dial it back a little. Form suffers. Sets of 8 become ‘6 and a maybe’.

5/10/20 Method: Split squats

Well today we are going to solve that problem.

Years ago I developed a rep scheme for supersets known as the 5/10/20 method. In its simplest form, this is a 3 exercise superset for a single muscle group where you do 5 reps of the first exercise, 10 of the second, then finish up with 20 reps on the final exercise.

I typically start with a heavy compound movement that works the entire targeted muscle group. Immediately after the compound exercise, I will move to 10 reps with an isolation movement. To end the superset, I like to use bodyweight exercises for 20 grueling reps that mimic the initial power exercise.

Related: DumbBar Supersets Workout for Muscle Growth

Now, the “exercise order” is not set in stone - I often use pull ups as the second movement, as 20 reps of those suckers would be too difficult to complete as the third exercise. As long as you always put a heavy movement first for 5 reps and then follow it up with 2 complementary exercises you are good to go.

By sticking to the designated rep scheme you are guaranteed to get an incredible pump, increase your endurance, and break through any training plateaus you’ve encountered. So without further ado, here is a killer 3 day split comprised entirely of the 5/10/20 Method supersets.

Day 1: Pushing

Exercise Reps
Dumbbell Chest Press 5
Chest Flys 10
Push Ups 20
Total Rounds: 5
Exercise Reps
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 5
Lateral Raises 10
Rear Delt Cable Pulls 20
Total Rounds: 5
Exercise Reps
Overhead Tricep Extension 5
Tricep Cable Press Downs 10
Bodyweight Skull Crushers 20
Total Rounds: 3

Day 1 is the “pushing” workout, where you will work chest, shoulder, and tricep exercises. The first 5/10/20 begins with dumbbell chest press for 5 reps (do 1-2 warm up sets of presses to work up to a heavy weight before starting the first round of supersets). As soon as you complete the 5th rep, grab a lighter set of dumbbells and perform 10 chest flys, or use a set of cables for cable chest flys.

Concentrate on isolating and squeezing the pecs on every rep, and then end the superset with 20 push ups. Take a minimum of 2 minutes rest then repeat for a total of 5 rounds. Toward the later rounds, if 20 push ups becomes difficult, break them into a few mini-sets to complete 20 reps.

Next up is a shoulder superset that begins with 5 heavy standing dumbbell shoulder presses. After your set of presses, grab a medium weight for 10 lateral raises then end with 20 rear delt cable pulls.

5/10/20 Method: Deltoid Triset

This 5/10/20 hits all 3 heads of the deltoids and after 5 rounds is going to leave your shoulders smoked.

Day 1 ends with a tricep superset, which utilizes a heavy overhead dumbbell extension for the power movement. Make sure to choose a weight heavy enough that you can barely do 5 reps. Next transition to a cable machine for 10 press downs before ending with 20 bodyweight skull crushers. In the later rounds, as the triceps fatigue, you may need to perform the BW Skulls at a higher angle. Complete 3 rounds and then call it a day.

Day 2: Pulling

Exercise Reps
Lat Pulldowns 5
Pull Ups 10
Seated Rows 20
Total Rounds: 5
Exercise Reps
T-Bar Rows 5
Slant Rows 10
Straight Arm Lat Pulldowns 20
Total Rounds: 5
Exercise Reps
Barbell Curls 5
Underhand Chin Up 1/4 Reps 10
Hammer Curls 20
Total Rounds: 3

Day 2 is your “pulling” workout consisting of back and bicep exercises. The first superset begins with 5 heavy lat pulldowns before going into 10 pull ups. If pull ups are a struggle for you, you may want to switch the order of the exercises and do the pull ups first. Either way, you will end with 20 reps of seated rows and complete 5 rounds. Make sure to take at least 2 minutes in between each round.

5/10/20 Method: Lat pulldowns

Next up is another back superset. This 5/10/20 begins with T-bar row then transitions into a great body weight movement, the slant row for 10 reps. To perform slant rows, place a bar in a power rack and lay underneath it, grabbing the bar with a wide grip and only your feet touching the ground. Keeping your body straight, pull yourself up until your chest touches the bar, making sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top.

End with 20 straight arm pulldowns and complete 5 total rounds. The last 5/10/20 for this day is going to absolutely torch your biceps, which are going to already be pumped from all of the pull ups and rows. Start with 5 heavy barbell curls then immediately perform 10 underhand chin up 1/4 reps. For the chin ups, only complete the top 1/4 of the movement to emphasize the biceps, squeezing at the top. End with 20 dumbbell hammer curls and complete 3 total rounds.

Day 3: Lower Body/Core

Exercise Reps
Bulgarian Split Squats (each leg) 5
Sissy Squats 10
Lunges 20
Total Rounds: 5
Exercise Reps
Med Ball Front Squats 5
Glute Ham Raises 10
Step Ups 20
Total Rounds: 3
Exercise Reps
Walk Outs 5
Ab Wheels 10
Stability Alternates (each side) 20
Total Rounds: 2

Leg day starts with Bulgarian Split Squats as your base power exercise. Hold a heavy set of dumbbells and complete 5 reps on each leg. Next go to a power rack and perform 10 sissy squats.

Sissy squats are an “old school” bodyweight quad burner from the golden era of bodybuilding. Grab each side of a power rack with an over hand grip and slowly lean back and bend at the knees, allowing your weight to come forward. Once you are almost parallel to the ground, push through your toes and extend your quads, bringing you back to starting position. After completing 10 reps, end the superset with 20 lunges. Rest at least 2 minutes and complete 5 rounds.

5/10/20 Method: Lower body triset

The next 5/10/20 begins with 5 heavy med ball front squats (you can substitute barbell if necessary), then transitions to 10 reps either glute ham raises or leg curls. End with 20 bodyweight step ups per leg.

After 3 grueling rounds it’s time to finish up with some core work. After completing 5 walk outs (from your knees, or standing if you are advanced), grab an ab wheel and roll out for 10 reps. End with 20 stability alternates on each side, breaking it into a couple sub-sets if necessary. Complete 2 rounds of the Core 5/10/20.

Related: 4 Week Core Strength Trainer

After doing days 1-3, take the 4th day as a rest day to let your body heal up, then complete another 3 day cycle.

Change Your Training for Big Results

I know what you’re thinking. No deadlifts? Where are the back squats? I don’t get to bench?!

Easy tiger. Because of the exhaustive nature of the 5/10/20 Method, I don’t like to utilize it on some of the bigger barbell movements that utilize a lot of weight, and prefer to stick to dumbbell exercises. This routine will not only be a shock to the system but will also give you a break from the “Big 3”.

Use this routine for a week or two then go back to your normal routine. I guarantee you will be able to attack your normal routine with renewed energy and endurance after being challenged with these extreme supersets.

You can always take the 5/10/20 structure and throw it in as a single superset finisher at the end of any workout, rather than do the entire program. Be creative. This is one tool in your arsenal that you will want to introduce anytime it feels like things are getting stale.

Posted on: Mon, 03/07/2016 - 03:13

Great! I definitively Love SUPERSETS. I will try it. Thanks! How many minutes should I rest between supersets?

Posted on: Tue, 03/08/2016 - 21:04

I set my timer for 2 minutes of rest, you'll need it. By the time I get to the last Exercise my muscles are burning.

Posted on: Sun, 03/06/2016 - 14:14

Perfect. Just what I needed to change it around and still keep max gains. Can't wait to start this today. Thanks.