sábado, 14 de março de 2015

Arnold's Agonist-Antagonist Training


  • Arnold often worked chest and back together, going back and forth between exercises for each. He did the same for other opposing body parts, like biceps and triceps.
  • Pressing strength increases dramatically by working the antagonist muscles between sets of benching.
  • Agonist/antagonist training ensures that you're doing enough work for both sides of the body for better muscular balance.
  • Alternating sets, where you rest 2-3 minutes before proceeding to a movement for an opposing body part, increases strength more than supersetting.
  • Train the limbs in a similar plane in order to work the agonist and antagonist movements, e.g., doing a horizontal press followed by a horizontal row.

Do What Arnold Tells You

Arnold Face

If you've been in this game long enough, it's very likely you've read Arnold'sEncyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding. In it, Arnold wrote about the various splits he used in the heyday of his training.

One of his most common splits was training chest and back together. He'd just go back and forth between exercises for the chest and back. He did the same for other opposing body parts, too, like biceps and triceps.

For example, if Arnold was bench pressing, he'd do a set of chins between his sets of bench presses. When he was working arms, he'd do a set of barbell curls, followed by a set of pushdowns.

He didn't need 78 peer-reviewed studies to tell him that it worked. Through common sense, he settled on a method where he worked an antagonist muscle group and its agonist muscle group on alternating sets.

Benefits of Agonist/Antagonist Training

Arnold Pressing

Arnold's lessons have endured the test of time and experience. Studies have confirmed that pressing strength increases dramatically by working or even statically stretching the antagonist muscles between sets of benching. Additionally, strength experts have used this method very effectively for increasing strength in their athletes for quite some time.
Related:  More things we can learn from Arnold

It's also far more time efficient than doing a traditional model of training, where you do all of your pressing movements in succession, followed by your support/assistance movements afterwards.

Agonist/antagonist training also ensures that you're doing enough work for both sides of the body so that you build and/or maintain muscular balance. Similarly, you don't want to get too "press heavy" (overdeveloped front delts that contributes to poor posture) and you want to make sure the hamstrings get as much work as the quadriceps.

Alternating Sets As Opposed to Supersetting

Arnold Bench

Another factor in putting this all together is how to go about moving in between exercises. Arnold would often superset between his pushing and pulling movements. However, a rest between movements can prove far more beneficial.

Try doing a set of bench presses, followed by a 2-3 minute rest before proceeding to the pulling movement. Then rest again for 2-3 minutes before going back to benching. This is called alternating sets, and I've found it to be far more beneficial in regards to increasing strength than supersetting the agonist/antagonist movements.

However, if you're short on time, you can still superset the movements. Just be ready to work your ass off, though. Supersetting big movements for high volume isn't for the faint of heart.

Matching Planes

Arnold Legs

One thing you can do to make these principles work more efficiently is to take the limbs through a similar plane in order to work the agonist and antagonist movements. You also want the body to be in exact opposing positions.

For example, you could do a set of flyes on the pec deck machine and then simply turn around and do a set of rear laterals on the same machine. Since the bench press is a horizontal press (you're facing the ceiling), you'd do alternating sets with the barbell row (you're facing the floor).

This makes sure that the muscles in direct opposition to the prime movers are hit more directly. This not only takes better advantage of all the principles laid out above, but also offers more muscular balance because you'll distribute the same amount of volume between agonist/antagonist ranges of motion.

So a horizontal press would be alternated with a horizontal row. A vertical press would be alternated with a vertical pull. There won't always be perfect matches – for example, the incline press is somewhere in between horizontal and vertical – but ideally you want to get as close as possible.

Combining These Principles Into a Program

Arnold Curl

Now that the principles for agonist/antagonist training have been laid out, let's combine them into a hugely effective but easy-to-digest split and program.

In fact, if you adhere to your time between sets and don't screw around, you'll be able to get all your work in under an hour, or thereabouts, and you'll have gotten in far more work than doing traditional straight sets with one movement.

Take advantage of these principles and you'll find yourself bigger and stronger in a few months.
You'll train four days a week:
  • A horizontal push/pull day
  • A leg day
  • A vertical push/pull day
  • An arm day (who doesn't love going into the gym to work pipes?)
Remember, you'll ideally be doing these in an alternating fashion, going between the first exercise and then the second after resting a few minutes. If pressed for time, superset them with little to no rest.

Day 1: Horizontal Push/Pull

Arnold Incline
A1Bench Press * 70% of your max58
A2Barbell Row *58
B1Incline Press 20% less than bench press38
B2Chest Supported T-Bar Row38
C1Pec-Deck Flye or High Incline Dumbbell Flye310-12
C2Rear Lateral on Pec-Deck or High Incline Bent Lateral310-12
* Warm up then do sets.

Day 2: Legs

Arnold Squat
A1Leg Extension512-15
A2Seated Leg Curl512-15
BSquat * working up to a ballbuster final set48
CStiff Legged Deadlift working up to a final heavy set46
* Squat — done alone, without alternating a movement in between.

Day 3: Vertical Push/Pull

Arnold Pulldown
A1Standing Press working up to a max-weight set56
A2Chin-Up add weight if you can56
B1Seated Dumbbell Press38-10
B2Lat Pulldown38-10
C1Plate Front Raise410-12
C2Straight-Arm Lat Pulldown410-12

Day 4: Arms

Arnold Dumbbell Curl
A1Standing Barbell Curl410-12
A2Triceps Pushdown410-12
B1Bent-Over Barbell Concentration Curl310-12
B2Leaning Triceps Extension with Rope310-12
C1Incline Dumbbell Curl310-12
C2Seated Dumbbell French Press310-12