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Why you should train opposing muscle groups together (Agonist-Antagonist muscle groups)

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “Work smarter not harder”.  There are no quick fixes in fitness but there are ways of maximizing your results from training. Training effectively does NOT need to take up hours of your time, and thankfully with working out opposing muscle groups you can make better strength gains in less time.


Agonist: The primary muscle used to complete the desired action. In a Bicep Curl, the primary muscle used is the Biceps Brachii muscle.

Antagonist: The opposing muscles to the targeted muscles used to complete the desired action. In the Bicep Curl, the opposing muscles are the Triceps Brachii.

The function of the antagonist muscles is to assist in balance, control and to support the joint the muscles surround. This means that for most movements there is always a certain amount of antagonist activation.


You alternate opposing body parts each set.

For example: a Bicep and Triceps superset:

1st set – Bicep curl

1st set – Triceps extension

2nd set – Bicep curl

2nd set – Triceps extension

Repeat this for as many sets as you feel you are genuinely able to complete before moving on with your paired exercises. 

For as many exercises that you are going to perform ALWAYS make sure that you have two opposing muscle groups paired up for each set of exercises being performed.


Increased Hypertrophy and improved blood flow.

Scientific studies show: Increased Strength and Increased Power when alternating opposing exercises compared to a traditional manner. Over time this will lead to more strength and muscular gains. Working a muscle for many reps causes lactic acid build up and muscular fatigue. By training the opposing muscle group, blood is forced into these muscles. This means the acidic blood is being drawn out of the previous muscles trained – helping to recirculate fresh blood and reduce blood stagnation. 

This is the equivalent to a race car running on fresh high-octane fuel vs. low grade stale gas. 

Your muscles will work more effectively and efficiently when opposing muscle groups are worked out.

Reduced exercise time.  By alternating exercises one after the other, exercise time is reduced by 50%. This means you can more effectively power out your workout in less time. While you are training the agonist, the antagonist is able to support but also actively rest and vice versa. 

Plus if you restrict your rest between sets you will reduce your overall work out time by two-fold since you are working out two muscle groups at the same time.

You can essentially combine a strength training workout with one that has a significant cardio component IF you work continuously and do not afford yourself much rest in between the sets being performed.

So, if you want to get the most out of your workouts without spending hours in the gym give this kind of workout a try…You’ll like it!