Antagonistic Pairs: The Answer To Injury Prevention

Antagonistic pairs are opposing muscle groups that facilitate the movement of your body.  You may not realise it, but your body works in systems & pairs:

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Muscles Are Made In Likeness Of The Movement…

Muscles are made to contract, in other words, they get shorter.  They are attached to bones by tendons & when a muscle contracts it pulls on the bone which then moves that limb or area of the body pivoting on the joint.

Muscles are not made to push – they only pull.  For example as you contract your bicep this motion pulls your forearm up.

If your bicep were your only arm muscle you would have to use gravity to extend your arm back to a straight position & then only be able to resist the rate at which it fell to the ground.

Instead, your arm has an opposing muscle – triceps on the back of the upper arm which will then contract to straighten your arm. Biceps & triceps are examples of antagonistic pair muscles.  – Every opposite movement your body is able to make is thanks to opposing muscle groups.



Risk of Injury…

If you have a muscle imbalance then your joints are at a higher risk of injury. One muscle is pulling on the joint more forcefully in one direction than the opposing muscle.

When this happens over time your joints are placed under greater pressure & in some cases a shearing force runs through the joint. Either way, not a good thing!


How to Reduce Failure…

Having a structured training program is essential. This will bring about balance & symmetry plus decrease the chance of you injuring yourself.

Like all things in life, balance is the key to continued success.


“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

  • Thomas Merton


In a structured training program, the exercises can be designed to complement your antagonistic muscles.  Coming from another angle you can actually create greater contraction in one of the antagonistic muscles – the agonist – by 1st stretching (inhibiting the contraction) the opposing muscle – the antagonist.

What this offers is a greater range of motion & fuller contraction of the prime mover muscle. Over time the added contraction will lead to better performing & more effective muscle mass.


For A Workout Routine That Utilises & Quickly Builds Up Antagonistic Pairs Click Here




One of the oldest traditional techniques to target antagonist muscle groups involves completing two consecutive sets to target both the protagonist & the antagonist back to back. For instance a bicep exercise followed by a triceps exercise, or a back exercise followed by a chest exercise.

Depending on your workout goals & your current needs (injuries or ailments) this technique may be implemented into your workout plan to help increase balance for your joints.

The intensity & ‘shock’ of strategically altering your training stimulus forces your muscles into growth as they are forced to constantly adapt to a new routine.

When a routine is the same, day in & day out, the muscles can become used to the routine, & basically become complacent where they will stop growing. Intensity workouts can help shake up the routine & keep muscles growing.


The Bottom Line…

It’s important to understand how your body works on a fundamental level.  For every pulling muscle there is an opposite muscle functioning to help stabilise the connecting joint.

It is important to identify all of these muscles & to work them out equally so that you are not stronger at one movement & weaker at the opposite movement – causing strain on the joints. This is commonly known as muscle imbalance & usually results in injury to the joint or one of the surrounding muscles.

It is important to follow a structured workout routine that can create harmony in your workout & your body.  A structured programme can ensure that you are targeting all of these muscle groups & doing so in an intense fashion, with a changing routine so that the muscles ‘stay guessing’ & continue building.

For A Workout Routine That Utilises & Quickly Builds Up Antagonistic Pairs Click Here


To Your Best Health,

ShapeTrainer Daniel Grant



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