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The Acquisition of Antagonistic Training

What is antagonistic training? After spending countless hours in the gym working away at perfecting your craft, you start to realize that there are many different ways to train that will yield results. Chances are you’ve chosen a certain structure for your workouts that provides you with a sense of enjoyment and accomplishment along with some level of comfort and assurance.

Likewise, what you do for your workouts in the form of exercise selection coupled with sets and reps has probably changed a little from time to time just for the sake of variation or the need for a new training stimulus.

Finally, you are most likely aware of the many different training principles that exist that you can apply to your training to improve upon intensity levels and even workout efficiency and perhaps the best one out there for achieving just that, is antagonistic training. Read on to find out if this method is worth giving a try.

What is Antagonistic Training?

This type of training is highly conducive to the supersets training principle that most of you have probably already used whereby you move from one exercise to the next without taking a break in between. When you do this in an antagonistic fashion, you pair opposing muscle groups together within that one superset.

The easiest way to distinguish antagonistic muscle group pairings is by thinking about the front of your body and the back when looking at your anatomical view. In this sense, antagonistic simply means on the other side in the same region of the body.

Examples of Antagonistic Muscle Groups

If you decide to employ this sort of training into your programs, it’s a good idea to know exactly what muscle groups will be working antagonistically so that you can maximize your efforts. If we go region by region of the body, these are the muscle groups you would want to pair together: chest and back, front delt and rear delt, biceps and triceps, brachioradialis and forearm flexors, abs and lower back, quads and hamstrings, gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior. These pairings would all be considered muscle groups that you would want to superset together to experience the antagonistic training method.


Why would you want to pair opposing muscle groups together in one workout? That’s a great question and the very simple answer to it is to increase your workout efficiency and to experience pumps like never before! Most people have been using antagonistic training forever when they train arms.

Supersets with biceps and triceps have almost become the golden standard for arm day because of the massive pumps that this style of training yields. However, for some reason, this thought process doesn’t enter into the equation for training other body parts when it will do exactly the same. When you have a huge pump in your pecs coupled with one in your lats, you literally feel larger than life.

Same for your upper legs when all of that blood is flooding both your quads and hams your legs feel enormous. Second, this awesome feeling is the amount of work you can accomplish in such a short period of time so antagonistic training is definitely a win/win.

When to Use it?

As with anything when it comes to training, eventually our body will adapt to any stimulus we provide it so it’s prudent on our part to be cognizant of this. You can use this type of training whenever you want of course but for the most part, it should probably be used in a segmented and structured time frame. Keep with the progressive overload approach whereby you’re always trying to improve upon strength and performance until you reach a point where you’re not progressing anymore and then throw in the antagonistic training for a new stimulus and something for your body to figure out and respond to by inducing new growth. Stick with it for a period of perhaps four to six weeks and then go back to your regular style of training until it’s time to switch things up again.

If you’ve already tried antagonistic training then you are well aware of how much fun it is, how effective it is and how difficult it is all at the same time. It will yield tremendous results and provide you will crazy pumps. The best way to approach it is to find exercises that compliment each other in an opposing fashion so that you can maximize the synergy between the contrasting muscle groups. Once you find that, your workouts will go to a whole new level and your gains will be unstoppable and that’s something everyone wants to acquire.

Author: Dana Bushell

Gym Star Team Member

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