What is antagonistic training and how does it work?

muscle building

The human body is a highly complex organism and resembles a perfectly coordinated symphony orchestra in terms of the interaction of its components. Each muscle has its functional counterpart, so that the power of each muscle rises and falls with that of its counterpart. But especially in weight training muscular imbalances due to unilaterally trained muscles are not uncommon. We'll show you how you are antagonistic training prevent the development of dysbalances, make your training more intensive and, in addition, increase your muscle growth.

What is antagonistic training and how does it work?

In order to grasp the meaning of antagonistic training, it is necessary to look at the structure of the active musculoskeletal system. Every muscle in the human body that performs a movement has an antagonist, the so-called antagonist, which counteracts the movement of the agonist, that is the predominantly active muscle. The most plastic example in this context is the interaction of the biceps and the triceps. The biceps, in the role of the agonist, are responsible for the flexion of the elbow joint, whereas the triceps take on the role of the antagonist just at that moment as it provides the extension of the joint. Each time when the biceps shorten, the triceps lengthens, underscoring the functional collaboration of these two muscles. Thus, since the performance of the agonist is limited by the antagonist's performance, it is particularly important in the field of weight training to pay attention to the balance of training and not to neglect any muscle. In practice, the antagonistic training is fundamentally like a superset training, in which only one sentence for the agonist and immediately thereafter a sentence for the corresponding antagonist is executed. As a result, the training intensity increases, since significantly more weight is moved in a shorter time, which leads not least to a considerable time savings.

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When and for whom is antagonistic training suitable?

Since antagonistic training is a form of training that is strongly influenced by the effects of superset training, it is primarily suitable for more advanced athletes who have already established a stable base muscle. Beginners and inexperienced athletes should initially avoid this intensity technique, since the extremely high intensity of training especially the central nervous system and bones, ligaments and joints heavily loaded, which notably at the beginning of the training career often to the occurrence of overtraining and the associated injuries of the passive musculoskeletal system leads. Above all else, antagonistic training is a temporary adjunct to classic hypertrophy training to set new stimuli or to compensate for apparent muscular deficits. In addition, this form of training is suitable for overcoming performance plateaus for a variety of reasons, as it sends out completely new stimuli to the muscles and central nervous system compared to widespread volume training.

What advantages and disadvantages does antagonistic training offer?

The greatest benefit of antagonistic training is undoubtedly the high intensity of combining many single sentences into supersets, creating a complete new adaptation response of the active and passive musculoskeletal system. In this context, there is also the immense time savings associated with compressing exercise and having a positive effect on cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, which is released in increasing concentration with increasing duration of training, promotes catabolic metabolic processes and thus inhibits the emergence of anabolic metabolic metabolism. A compact training, as it implies antagonistic training, thus makes it possible for every athlete to quickly switch to anabolism. The increased blood flow in the antagonistically trained muscle groups increases the total amount of blood in the target musculature, resulting in the appearance of a strong pumping effect which, among other things, expands the fibrous connective tissue muscle fascia. The stretching of the often very tight connective tissue causes the target muscle gains additional space for the growth of thickness, which has hitherto been inhibited by the tight fascia, despite sufficient suprathreshold training stimuli. Despite all the advantages of the antagonistic training, the fact that the high training intensity in the long term is an enormous burden on the human body, should be considered, so it is recommended to periodically perform this form of training for a maximum of 3 months to prevent the consequences of overtraining. In training practice, there is a further not to be despised disadvantage out, because the implementation is due to the fact that different devices are occupied more or less simultaneously, often only limited possible. Therefore, the training should be moved either in the late evening or in the optimal case in the own home gym.

Exemplary training plan

Needless to say, with regard to antagonistic training, the principle that as many free exercises as possible should be carried out, although this is often associated with a higher logistical effort. Only using free weights does the full potential of this training method work. Alternatively, however, antagonistic training can also be performed on devices. Training Session 1: Breast Vs. Back / calves vs. Shin executor

  • Bench presses / pull ups - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • KH Bench Press / Barbell Rowing - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • Flying Dumbbells / Latzug in a tight grip - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • Calf raises standing / toe lifting - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

Training session 2: quadriceps / hamstrings / backstrings / abdomen

  • Squats / Good Mornings - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • Leg press / leg curls lying down - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
  • Leg stretcher / leg curls in sitting - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • Hyperextensions / Belly Press - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions

Workout 3: Shoulder / Biceps / Triceps

  • KH Shoulder Press / Butterfly (reverse) - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • KH front raises / side raises - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • Barbell curls / Frenchpress standing - 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  • SZ scottcurls / triceps presses on cable - 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Antagonistic training offers variety and breaks through plateaus

Although the logistical effort required to carry out antagonistic training is considerably higher than that of classical hypertrophy training, in return every advanced trainer benefits from the new training incentives that antagonistic training can set. In addition, this form of training is a welcome change that has helped many athletes to make a real leap in performance. Overall, however, it should be noted that antagonistic training also requires a period of familiarization in order to accustom the body to the strain and not to completely overburden it in the first session.