a.k.a.: Antagonist Agony
A Teeth-Grinding, Blood-Curdling Superset-Based Program!
We’ve all seen the images of bodybuilders from the golden age of training when there was far less—how should I put it?—“douche baggery” and far more camaraderie. The days when high-volume ruled the muscle-building world, and a 3 hour workout wasn't unusual. Much of what those guys did seemed deceptively simple. However, there is much you can learn from the bodybuilders of yesteryear. I absolutely love the antagonistic superset-based programs many old-school guys used. (Most people don't realize that optimal performance from one muscle is dependant upon how quickly its antagonistic muscle can elongate.)
Supersets are awesome in general; they decrease the amount of time it takes for a certain amount of work to be done, which increases the intensity level of the session. This is key for reaching your goal, whether that goal is to lose fat or to build muscle. The following program is one that I put together that you may enjoy if you love the old-school style of training, but also love pushing sets to—and beyond—momentary muscular failure. The volume is lower than guys like Arnold did “back in the day”, but the intensity level is off the charts! With this program, you will superset each muscle with its antagonist, and each set will be driven to a level of extremity! The pain will be excruciating—and you'll more than likely lose your lunch during some of the workouts—but the results will be worth all the pain and suffering you'll be forced to endure. With that said, here we go:
Workout 1: Chest/Back
Superset 1: Incline Barbell or Dumbbell Presses – 2x6-10 and T-Bar Rows – 2x6-10. Intensifier- Upon reaching failure, have your partner assist you with two or three forced reps.
Superset 2: Flat Barbell or Dumbbell Presses - 2x10-12 and Wide-Grip Pulldowns. - 2x10-12. Intensifier- Negative emphasis (6 seconds on each negative, and with a rep range on these of 10-12 that is a ton of tension time on the muscle—extreme burn and lactic acid surge from hell!)
Superset 3: Cable Flyes - 2x15-20 and Seated Cable Rows - 2x15-20. Intensifier- Drop sets. Upon reaching failure, perform a double drop set before moving on to the next exercise.
Workout 2: Legs
Superset 1: Leg Extensions - 2x12-15 and Lying Leg Curls - 2x12-15. Intensifier- 1 1/2 reps. Go through the full range of the movement, and once you're in the contracted position slowly allow the weight to drift about 1/2 of the way back toward the stretch position, and contract once again.
Superset 2: Leg Presses - 2x8-15(6 second negatives) and Stiff Leg Deadlifts - 2x8-15(3-4 second hold in stretch position before the ascent.) Intensifier- Negative emphasis on the first movement, and fascia stretch on the second.
Superset 3: Hack Squats - 2x12-15 and Seated Leg Curls - 2x12-15. Intensifier- "Matrix Reps". 6/0/6 tempo. That’s six seconds on the positive and the negative! (Looks like slow motion but burns like a motherf#$%er!)
Superset 4: Standing Calf Raises - 2x25-30 and Seated Calf Raises - 2x25-30. Intensifier- Drop Sets. Upon Reaching Failure Perform drop sets until rep range is met.
Workout 3: Shoulders
Delts do not have a true antagonist, however, that won't stop us from making the intensity borderline unbearable!
Superset 1: Lateral Raises 2x12-15 Behind the Neck Barbell Presses 2x12-15. Intensifier- "Matrix reps" as described above.
Superset 2: Dumbbell Bent Laterals - 2x12-15 and Machine Rear Laterals - 2x12-15. Intensifier-Drop Sets. Upon reaching failure, perform drops until rep goal is reached.
Superset 3: Dumbbell Shrugs 1x6(Continue ascending performing sets of six until you cannot complete six) and Cable Upright Row 1x10 (Same as above). Intensifier- Ascending sets. If you aren't familiar with this, it is essentially performing a set with one weight, stopping just shy of failure, then increasing the weight and repeating the exercise until you reach a weight that will not allow you to complete the prescribed number of reps.
Workout 4: Arms
Superset 1: Close Grip Bench Presses - 1x11-15 and Barbell Curls - 1x11-15. Intensifier- Rest Pause or “DC style”.
Superset 2: Skull Crushers - 2x6-10(Come up half way then back down then all the way up. That is one rep. No double contraction on this. We're going for the stretch) and Incline Dumbbell Curls - 2x6-10 (Come up half way then back down then all the way up. That is one rep . No double contraction on this. We're going for the stretch). Intensifier- 1 and 1/2 reps.
Superset 3: Machine Preacher Curls - 2x12-15 and Pushdowns - 2x12-15. Intensifier- Drop Sets. Upon reaching failure, continue to perform drops until the prescribed number of reps are completed.
That's all she wrote! Take as many days as you need to recover between workouts. Keep in mind: you will grow when you recover from the savage beating you put your muscles through! Run this program for 6 weeks, then return to a sub-failure, volume-style training program to allow your body to recoup, then you can start it up again!