The idea of working opposite movements is nothing new and it's a fantastic way to promote balance. For most bodybuilder types this means the difference between being a one part wonder and having the symmetry and proportion necessary to place. For competitive lifters this means staving off the myriad of chronic injuries that come with performing the competitive lifts over and over again. For athletes this means strengthening the body as a whole so overall performance is not hindered and injury is prevented.

Another lesser known benefit is that working opposing muscle groups can increase your strength immediately. In short, training opposing muscle groups in a consecutive fashion dis-inhibits the antagonistic muscle group. Theoretically this will increase the strength of the muscles you are training at that moment.

An example would be performing a set of pullups before a set of overhead presses. The set of pullups is designed to “fatigue” the lats enough to not allow them to inhibit the firing capabilities of the deltoids and upper traps. Therefore, training the extension muscles more efficiently. You can think of this as reducing internal “friction.” The body’s muscle groups work against each other, so if you can fatigue the opposing muscle groups then it stands to reason you will be a little bit stronger.

In my opinion I prefer to think of training opposing movements as “balancing” the loading, i.e. equally distributing comparable loads and controlling the volume of your flexion and extension muscles. This is great for bringing up an underdeveloped muscle group or to help restore joint integrity so as to prevent or rehabilitate an unstable joint. Here are some variations that can help you decide how to organize a training routine around this concept.

The indestructible shoulder girdle
A1) Pushup (plus protraction): 10-20 reps, wait 30 seconds to 1min. Then…
A2) Inverted Body Row: 10-20 reps. Rest 2 min then repeat for desired number of sets.

B1) Upside down pushup (yes, like Paul Anderson used to do against the wall): 10-20 reps wait 30 sec. to 1 min. then…
B2) Prone grip medium width pullup: 10-20 reps rest 2 min. then repeat series for desired number of sets.

Barbell push/pull mania
A1) Med grip bench press: 6-10 reps rest 1 min. then…
A2) Prone med grip bent over or chest supported row: 6-10 reps then repeat series for desired number of sets.

B1) Close grip bench: 6-10 reps rest 1 min. then…
B2) Supine grip bent over or chest supported row : 6-10 reps then repeat for desired sets.

Ultimate Arm Blaster
A1) Dips: 4-8 reps rest 1 min. then…
A2) Supine grip barbell curl: 4-8 reps and repeat series as many times as desired

B1) Neutral grip dumbell extension: 8-12 reps rest 1min…
B2) Hammer curls: 8-12 reps

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