What Are Examples of Antagonistic Muscle Exercises?

Pair chest exercises with back exercises for an antagonistic superset.

Pair chest exercises with back exercises for an antagonistic superset.

It's hard to get the fitness results you're looking for when you don't always have time for a full workout. To cut down on your time in the gym, try supersetting. This works by exercising two muscle groups back to back with little break time in between. It may seem difficult at first, but if you superset antagonistic (or opposing) muscle groups you can save time, reach your fitness goals faster, and feel the burn without burning yourself out.

Chest and Back

The chest and back muscles perform opposing movements and are a great pair for an antagonistic muscle workout set. For this set, alternate between different chest and back exercises with little to no rest between sets. Some good chest exercises include the lying dumbbell press, dumbbell flyes and dips. Ideal back exercises include the T-bar row, one-arm dumbbell row and pullups, according to Bodybuilding.com. You should do three sets of nine to 12 reps for each exercise, so make sure you choose a weight amount that allows you to complete the workout.

Biceps, Triceps and Shoulders

Biceps and triceps allow you to do opposing arm movements so they should be coupled in an antagonistic workout. For these muscle groups, alternate between exercises such as bar curls, dumbbell curls and cable curls for biceps, and bench dips, cable push downs, triceps extensions and close-grip bench presses for triceps. Because shoulder muscles perform antagonistic movements to the arm muscles, you can also include shoulder workouts such as plate raises and dumbbell shrugs within this superset, according to Bodybuilding.com. Three sets of 12 to 20 reps are ideal for these muscles groups.

Quadriceps and Hamstrings

The quadriceps are the major anterior muscle group in the upper leg, while the hamstrings are the major posterior muscle group in the upper leg. They are responsible for opposing leg movements, and pairing exercises for these two muscle groups creates an antagonistic leg workout. Some examples of quadriceps exercises include leg presses, barbell step-ups and squats. Effective hamstring exercises include the leg curl, clean and box jump. Alternate between muscle groups, performing three sets of 10 to 15 reps for each exercise.

Abs and Lower Back

The abdominal muscles and lower-back muscles make up the core. You can create an antagonistic superset by alternating between exercises that work each of these muscle groups. Atlas stones and deadlifts work the lower-back muscles while crunches, jackknives, dumbbell side-bends and butt-ups all work the abdominal muscles with some emphasis on the lower back as well. Bodybuilding.com recommends doing four sets of 25 to 30 reps for each exercise without taking an extended break in between sets.

 

About the Author

Based in the Los Angeles area, Brandi Junious specializes in health-related articles. Her writing reflects her expertise in fitness and education. Junious is the author of children's book "A World Without Trees" and her work has appeared on Modern Mom, The Nest Woman, Chron Healthy Living and at Loseweightandlivehealthy.blogspot.com. Junious holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Southern California and a master's degree in Education.

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