Combined series - when is it worth doing them? They are often considered a way to overcome stagnation in training, increase intensity, and improve endurance, but do combo series have any disadvantages?

What is a combined series?

Combined series are at least two series of exercises for a given muscle group, performed without rest breaks. You can even combine three or four exercises together, if you see good results from the combination and aren’t risking injury. Most often, a different number of reps is used in individual exercises and selected so that they differ slightly from your normal training. For example - the first multi-joint exercise with more weight and fewer repetitions (5-7), the second isolated exercise with less weight and more repetitions (10-15). The most important rule is no break between these exercises, the fatigue is what gets us the results here. If you are in a busy gym, plan for the fact that the next exercise station might be occupied, these exercises can’t have interruption to the sets.

Not to be confused with the supersets!

These two concepts get confused sometimes. Supersets are exercises performed directly one after another for opposing muscle groups - e.g. the triceps and biceps or the biceps and quadriceps muscles. The combined series, on the other hand, relate to the same muscle group. Interestingly, both of these methods of exercise belong to the 32 principles formulated by Joe Weider - the father of bodybuilding, whose contribution to the development of bodybuilding is absolutely huge.

Endurance yes, strength no.

What effects can we expect when using combined series?

Increasing muscle endurance - continuous muscle work without rest helps to improve endurance, and if the exercise is multi-joint and concerns a large muscle group, it also increases the endurance of the entire body. That is why martial arts fighters often rely on combined series in their strength training.

  • A clear muscle "pump" - after performing two or three series of exercises like this for a given group, you will feel a "pump", but also a burning sensation, indicating a solid muscle fatigue. Such training is certainly rewarding but If it is to contribute to the growth of muscle mass, we need to take care of the right nutrients and our rest/regeneration.
  • Fat reduction - like any endurance training, combined series boosts the metabolism and promotes fat burning.
  • Shorter training time - if we do not take breaks between sets, we automatically spend less time on training.

And what do we not get through combined series training?

Improve your strength. When training strength, we need to use as much weights as possible, aim for a few repetitions at max weight, and rest long enough to face another set lifting at your max. This is the opposite of the combined series. Therefore, this type of training is not suitable for beginners who, firstly, should focus on developing strength, and, secondly, have not yet mastered the technique of individual exercises to perform joint series correctly and quickly, without losing form.

Series proposals for various muscle groups


Simultaneous bending of the forearms with dumbbells in a standing position (heavy weight, about 5-7 repetitions) + bending of the forearms on a preacher stand (less weight, 10 repetitions) + bending of the lower arms on the lower pulley with a rope (reduced weight, 15 repetitions)


French bench press with a barbell (heavy weight, 5-7 repetitions) + simultaneous straightening of the forearms with dumbbells on an incline bench (less weight, 10 repetitions) + straightening of the arms with the upper lift (less weight, 15 repetitions)


Rowing with a barbell in the torso drop (heavy weight, 5-7 repetitions) + chin-ups (10 repetitions, can be with a little help of training rubbers) + pulling the upper lift bar to the nape or chest (lighter weight, 15 repetitions)


Horizontal bench press (heavy weight, 5-7 repetitions) + incline dumbbell press (lighter weight, 10 repetitions) + bench presses (lighter weight, 15 repetitions)

Note that the proposed sets contain three exercises for a given muscle group. A combined series can also be based on two exercises. The most important thing is to do them without interruptions. For the same reason, let's choose exercises with both hands, and not with one-handed one - so that no muscle rests even for a moment.