Tag Archives: agonist-antagonist paired sets

Complement Your Bench Press with the Inverted Row

6 Aug

Everybody loves the bench press.  It’s a great exercise for building upper-body strength, engages multiple joints and muscles, and can be performed with several different variations.

But many athletes neglect the equally important opposing muscle groups engaged by upper-body pulling exercises, like those that employ the rowing motion.  This “push-pull” strategy — also known as agonist-antagonist paired sets — is beneficial because it improves strength development, joint stability, musculoskeletal balance, and injury prevention.

The inverted row is a multi-joint, upper-body exercise that can improve and increase shoulder and back stability, upper-body muscular pulling strength, and relative upper-body strength.

The inverted row is a versatile exercise that can be modified in intensity to accommodate athletes of varying training experience and proficiency.  It can be performed with a straight bar or with suspension-type exercise equipment (TRX), and can be regressed or progressed by changing feet position, elevating the feet and/or adding weight via weight belts, vests, etc.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Strength Training as an Injury Prevention Strategy

6 Apr

24-pro-foam-roll[1]While it’s impossible to prevent every injury, research shows that strength training can help individuals reduce the incidence and severity of injury.  Here are a few tips that can improve your odds of making your body injury-proof.

Fuel Your Workout

Strength training requires energy.  Everyone’s different but, as a general rule, you should eat a balanced, light meal or snack 30-90 minutes prior to working out.  Aim for a carbohydrate to protein ratio of about 3:1.

Warm-up

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we prefer a dynamic warm-up (no stretching) to prepare for our workouts.  Using light-to-moderate weight, try doing kettlebell swings or a barbell (or dumbbell) complex.  Body-weight exercises — like burpees — will work, too.  You can also do a lighter warm-up set prior to any exercise in your regimen.

Do It Right

Don’t cheat by only pushing or pulling half-way, and don’t get so enamored with the amount of weight you lift that you sacrifice proper technique in the process.  Lift and lower the weight (or your body) through the entire, intended range-of-motion.

Push and Pull

Agonist-antagonist paired sets help to ensure that you’re developing muscular balance and joint stability, in addition to strength, by exercising opposing muscle groups (for example, the bench press and row).

Stretch… After

Post-workout stretching helps to relax and elongate muscles.  Stretching also facilitates oxygenation and nutrient uptake in muscle cells.

Foam Roll (pictured)

If you’ve never tried a foam roll massage, it’s a must.  The foam roll uses your body weight and position to deliver a deep-tissue massage.  They’re available, inexpensively, and most come with an instructional DVD.

Refuel

Post-workout nutrition should be consumed within 30 minutes of your workout.  Your body needs carbs to replenish muscle glycogen stores (think of glycogen as stored energy) and protein (preferably whey) to rebuild muscle.  16-18 ounces of chocolate milk is a great choice.

Rest

It’s the rest days between workouts that help your muscles grow bigger and stronger.  Allow a rest day between training days.  Rest (including adequate sleep) is essential to the recovery/regeneration process.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

How Long Should You Rest Between Exercises and Sets?

17 Feb

Rest-period[1]Rest periods, between exercises and sets, can vary depending on the sport or exercise.  As a general rule, when strength or speed training, your rest intervals should be proportional to the intensity of your workout.  The purpose of rest periods is to ensure adequate recovery in order to perform subsequent exercises with maximal effort and proper technique.

Strength Training

Depending on your primary resistance training goal/strategy (and commensurate intensity level), below are recommended rest intervals:

  • Strength & Power: Heavy weight (75% – 90% loads, relative to % 1RM) and low repetitions (4-6 range) warrant longer rest intervals, 2-5 minutes.
  • Hypertrophy (size): Moderate-to-heavy weight (67% – 85% loads) and low-to-medium reps (6-12 range) = 30 seconds – 1.5 minutes rest intervals.
  • Endurance: Moderate weight (loads of 67% and less) and high reps (12+) = rest intervals of less than 30 seconds.

Speed Training

Since the goal of speed training requires exercises and drills to be performed at maximum speed — and with proper technique — you must avoid excessive fatigue.  Sprinting when you’re tired results in poor running mechanics and slower speeds.

  • Recover fully between sprints (30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on distance).
  • Don’t overdo it; 3-10 sprints, with full recovery, are adequate.
  • Sprints should be done toward beginning of workout when energy level is highest.

Growth Hormone and Testosterone

The length of your rest intervals can also influence production of growth hormone and testosterone, according to Rahimi, et. al., in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  “… short rest intervals (60-second) elevated greater increase in growth hormone (GH) compared with 120-second rest,” while “… testosterone (TS) response was greater in the resistance exercise protocol with a 120-second rest interval between sets.”

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we utilize agonist-antagonist paired sets (APS), alternating “push and pull” exercises for opposing muscle groups (for example, the bench press and row), primarily for the purpose of increasing efficiency by reducing training time.  Basically, one muscle group’s “work” exercise is the opposing muscle group’s “rest.”  “The use of APS training is an efficacious and time-effective method for developing strength and power…” (Robbins, et al.; Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research).

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Here’s Why You Should Train With Supersets

17 Jun
Barbell Bench Press

Barbell Bench Press

Seated Cable Row

Seated Cable Row

Supersets are a workout strategy in which you perform sets of two different exercises back-to-back with little or no rest.  They are a great time-saver, and can make your workout more efficient and effective.

Generally, supersets are used for opposing muscle groups, such as chest (e.g., bench press) and back (e.g., row), so that one muscle group can recover while you train the other one, thereby reducing the time needed to rest. These types of supersets are referred to as agonist-antagonist paired sets (or, push-pull sets), since they work opposing muscle groups.  This is an approach we favor at our facility.

Recently the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that subjects who performed leg extension and leg curl supersets also performed better.  In fact, they completed more reps on the leg extension when the leg curl was done immediately beforehand than when done alone, despite getting no rest in between lifts.  Furthermore, when the subjects did rest, even up to 30 seconds, they completed significantly fewer reps and were shown to be activating less muscle in their quads.

Here’s the rationale behind the effectiveness of supersets: Working an antagonistic muscle group increases the nervous system’s activation of the agonist.  In this case, training the hamstrings enabled the quads to work better.  Straight sets (doing a set of one exercise, resting, and repeating) probably have their place when you’re going heavy (although at our facility, we also superset heavy sets), but supersets can boost your workout effectiveness and efficiency.

This is an example of a few of our paired exercise supersets we use at Athletic Performance Training Center:

  • Squat + Glute-Ham Raise
  • Bench Press + Row
  • Shoulder Press + Lat Pulldown

If you need extra time to recover from high-intensity sets of exercises such as the squat or bench press, by all means perform those exercises by themselves.  Then perform your assistance exercises as supersets.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Up-Tempo Training is Best

13 Oct

45_2[1]

Seated Cable Row

One of our preferred strategies when training athletes (and virtually every other client) involves minimizing rest intervals among and between sets.  Maintaining an “up-tempo” pace  — keeping the heart rate up during a workout — results in continuous improvement, regardless of fitness level.

There’s no need to be in the weight room all day.  Most of our clients’ sessions are about 45-50 minutes in duration, and there’s very little “down” time.  They get in, get their work done, and get out (and recover).

We’ve found that agonist-antagonist paired sets (working opposing muscle groups — pushing and pulling — e.g., the bench press and row) are a great way to maintain an aggressive workout tempo, improve workout efficiency, and reduce training time, while not compromising workout quality.  This strategy strengthens and stabilizes joints, and helps prevent injury.  Our athletes and clients perform the paired exercises, back-to-back, completing all sets with as little rest as they can manage, then rest for one minute before proceeding to the next pair of exercises.

We also vary our training programs, changing exercises weekly, while ensuring that each session is a total-body workout.  Performing different exercises for similar muscle movements is important to keep workouts challenging.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another terrific way to maintain an efficient, up-tempo workout.  HIIT involves alternating high- and low-intensity exercise over a pre-determined period of time.  We like a ratio of 1:3, high-intensity to low-intensity, as a benchmark, depending on the athlete’s/client’s fitness level.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Complement Your Bench Press with the Inverted Row

6 Aug

20140805_09281420140805_092855Everybody loves the bench press.  It’s a great exercise for building upper-body strength, engages multiple joints and muscles, and can be performed with several different variations.

But many athletes neglect the equally important opposing muscle groups engaged by upper-body pulling exercises, like those that employ the rowing motion.  This “push-pull” strategy — also known as agonist-antagonist paired sets — is beneficial because it improves strength development, joint stability, musculoskeletal balance, and injury prevention.

The inverted row is a multi-joint, upper-body exercise that can improve and increase shoulder and back stability, upper-body muscular pulling strength, and relative upper-body strength.

The inverted row is a versatile exercise that can be modified in intensity to accommodate athletes of varying training experience and proficiency.  It can be performed with a straight bar or with suspension-type exercise equipment (TRX), and can be regressed or progressed by changing feet position, elevating the feet and/or adding weight via weight belts, vests, etc.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

3 Essential Steps to Build Muscle Strength, Size, and Endurance

31 Mar

61855_super_deadlift_bar[1]The fastest way to build muscle strength, size. and endurance is good old-fashioned strength training, done right. Over time, strength training challenges your muscles by breaking them down so they repair and recover bigger and stronger than before.

To be optimally effective, strength training must be combined with proper nutrition and rest. Although there are some strategies to accelerate the process, there are no shortcuts. You have to do the work and follow the plan.

Nutrition

Without proper nutrition, you will compromise any muscle strength, size, and endurance gains you hope to achieve. Simply stated, your body needs the nutrients that food provides for growth.

It’s essential to eat sufficient calories, as well as carbs and protein, 30 to 90 minutes before and after working out. Aim for 0.8 grams of lean protein per pound; whole grain and high fiber carbs; and healthy fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts, and salmon.

Strength Training

You’ll need to work out three or four days per week to reach your goal. Here are some guidelines to get you on your way:

Favor compound movements over single-joint movements: Compound exercises, like Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, and Inverted Rows, involve more than one joint and engage multiple muscle groups. Triceps Extensions and Biceps Curls are single-joint isolation exercises. Compound exercises require greater muscle activation, recruit larger muscle groups, and stimulate strength and size gains.

Lift heavy weights: if you want to build muscle fast, you need to push your body to use as many muscle fibers as possible during exercise. Lifting heavy weights allows you to challenge your muscles, which is the key to making strength and size gains.

For any given exercise, your training goal will determine the weight you use:

  • To build strength and power, 4-6 repetitions per set
  • For hypertrophy (to get bigger), 8-10 reps per set
  • To improve muscle endurance, 12-15 reps per set

If you can perform more repetitions than that, the weight is too light and you will fail to make gains.

Try supersets: we emphasize supersets at Athletic Performance Training Center. By pairing push and pull exercises (a.k.a., agonist-antagonist paired sets), you are able to work twice as many muscles in a time-efficient manner to help build overall muscle strength, size, and endurance.

Rest

Several different rest factors must be considered in your training:

  • Get a good night’s sleep; seven to eight hours each night
  • Do not rework a muscle group until it has the chance to recover for 48 hours
  • Rest between sets to allow your muscles to recover and get the most out of each set. If you are building strength and size, it’s best to rest between 90 seconds to 3 minutes between sets (except with supersets), depending on the intensity (higher intensity = more rest)

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Strength Training as an Injury Prevention Strategy

13 Mar

24-pro-foam-roll[1]While it’s impossible to prevent every injury, research shows that strength training can help individuals reduce the incidence and severity of injury.  Here are a few tips that can improve your odds of making your body injury-proof.

Fuel Your Workout

Strength training requires energy.  Everyone’s different but, as a general rule, you should eat a balanced, light meal or snack 30-90 minutes prior to working out.  Aim for a carbohydrate to protein ratio of about 3:1.

Warm-up

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we prefer a dynamic warm-up (no stretching) to prepare for our workouts.  Using light-to-moderate weight, try doing kettlebell swings or a barbell (or dumbbell) complex.  Body-weight exercises — like burpees — will work, too.  You can also do a lighter warm-up set prior to any exercise in your regimen.

Do It Right

Don’t cheat by only pushing or pulling half-way, and don’t get so enamored with the amount of weight you lift that you sacrifice proper technique in the process.  Lift and lower the weight (or your body) through the entire, intended range-of-motion.

Push and Pull

Agonist-antagonist paired sets help to ensure that you’re developing muscular balance and stability, in addition to strength, by exercising opposing muscle groups (for example, the bench press and row).

Stretch… After

Post-workout stretching helps to relax and elongate muscles.  Stretching also facilitates oxygenation and nutrient uptake in muscle cells.

Foam Roll (pictured)

If you’ve never tried a foam roll massage, it’s a must.  The foam roll uses your body weight and position to deliver a deep-tissue massage.  They’re available, inexpensively, and most come with an instructional DVD.

Refuel

Post-workout nutrition should be consumed within 30 minutes of your workout.  Your body needs carbs to replenish muscle glycogen stores (think of glycogen as stored energy) and protein (preferably whey) to rebuild muscle.  16-18 ounces of chocolate milk is a great choice.

Rest

It’s the rest days between workouts that help your muscles grow bigger and stronger.  Allow a rest day between training days.  Rest (including adequate sleep) is essential to the recovery/regeneration process.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

How Long Should You Rest Between Exercises and Sets?

18 Feb

Rest-period[1]Rest periods, between exercises and sets, can vary depending on the sport or exercise.  As a general rule, when strength or speed training, your rest intervals should be proportional to the intensity of your workout.  The purpose of rest periods is to ensure adequate recovery in order to perform subsequent exercises with maximal effort and proper technique.

Strength Training

Depending on your primary resistance training goal/strategy (and commensurate intensity level), below are recommended rest intervals:

  • Strength & Power: Heavy weight (75% – 90% loads, relative to % 1RM) and low repetitions (4-6 range) warrant longer rest intervals, 2-5 minutes.
  • Hypertrophy (size): Moderate-to-heavy weight (67% – 85% loads) and low-to-medium reps (6-12 range) = 30 seconds – 1.5 minutes rest intervals.
  • Endurance: Moderate weight (loads of 67% and less) and high reps (12+) = rest intervals of less than 30 seconds.

Speed Training

Since the goal of speed training requires exercises and drills to be performed at maximum speed — and with proper technique — you must avoid excessive fatigue.  Sprinting when you’re tired results in poor running mechanics and slower speeds.

  • Recover fully between sprints (30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on distance).
  • Don’t overdo it; 3-10 sprints, with full recovery, are adequate.
  • Sprints should be done toward beginning of workout when energy level is highest.

Growth Hormone and Testosterone

The length of your rest intervals can also influence production of growth hormone and testosterone, according to Rahimi, et. al., in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.  “… short rest intervals (60-second) elevated greater increase in growth hormone (GH) compared with 120-second rest,” while “… testosterone (TS) response was greater in the resistance exercise protocol with a 120-second rest interval between sets.”

At Athletic Performance Training Center, we utilize agonist-antagonist paired sets (APS), alternating “push and pull” exercises for opposing muscle groups (for example, the bench press and row), primarily for the purpose of increasing efficiency by reducing training time.  Basically, one muscle group’s “work” exercise is the opposing muscle group’s “rest.”  “The use of APS training is an efficacious and time-effective method for developing strength and power…” (Robbins, et al.; Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research).

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Don’t Stop Training In-Season

15 Oct

You’ve spent the entire off-season working hard at your Strength and Conditioning program.  You’ve improved your Strength, Speed, Agility, and Athleticism.  Your confidence level is high.  Now it’s time for the competition, in-season period, including all the pre-season, regular-season, and post-season games.  Most sports have long seasons, spanning 3-4 months or more.  There are several good reasons to continue Strength training throughout the season:

Strength Maintenance

Research indicates that Strength training just one day per week is adequate for athletes to maintain off-season Strength gains.  Additionally, two Strength training days per week can help athletes continue to build strength throughout the season.  Although volume (sets) and frequency (days) should be reduced, it’s important to maintain the intensity level of your workout.  If your off-season workout incorporated bench press sets of 150 lbs., reducing the weight during the season will not help you maintain the same level of strength.  In-season Strength training not only keeps you strong, it helps you endure the “grind” of the season and avoid wearing down.

Injury Prevention

In-season Strength training – especially a program designed and supervised by a Strength and Conditioning professional – should be balanced.  That means you should be performing both push and pull exercises (we refer to this as agonist-antagonist paired sets).  This approach is both effective and efficient.

Use It or Lose It

Use it or lose it… that’s the nature of muscle.  Season-long participation in practices and games will not keep you strong.  Conversely, it will wear you down.  In-season Strength training is necessary to maintain Strength, Speed, and Agility.  Detraining also has the potential to increase body fat and weight and decrease VO2peak and metabolic rate, according to Ormsbee and Arciero (Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research).

Make Time

You can’t wait until you “have” time.  You’ve got to make in-season Strength training a priority.  One or two 30 minute workouts per week is all you need.  Put the power, plyometric, and assistance exercises on the shelf until the off-season.  Core, multi-joint Strength building exercises – like the squat, deadlift, Romanian deadlift, bench press, and row – should comprise most of your workout.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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