The Arnold-Approved Training Program You Need to Try This Week

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Image via Instagram @schwarzenegger

Try this Arnold-approved workout

If you’ve been around the fitness scene for some time, chances are, you would have come around Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding. In his book, The Governator, among many things, lists his experiences and results using various training programs.

One of the programs Arnold recommends in his book is the antagonistic superset training. Arnie considered them to be better than the usual supersets where you switch from one exercise to the other without any rest in between sets.

Antagonistic Training

In the antagonistic training, you train opposing body parts in the same workout. For example, Schwarzenegger liked to train his chest and back, biceps and triceps, quads and hams in the same workout.

Although there were no studies or research to prove it, Arnold claimed the antagonistic supersets help him gain muscle mass and improved his strength. Researchers have since backed this technique with data and have given Arnold’s claims a clean chit.

Things to Know About Antagonistic Training

  • You can use the antagonistic training principle of training opposing muscle groups as a superset or take a 2-3 minute rest before alternating the exercise.
  • Antagonistic training can help you in building pressing strength by alternating the exercise with pulling movements.
  • It helps in maintaining muscle balance as you’ll be doing the same amount of work on the opposing muscles.
  • Alternating sets with a 2-3 minute rest in between sets can increase muscular strength as compared to super-setting which annihilate the muscles.
  • While following the antagonistic training plan, you need to train your opposing muscles in the same plane to get the best results. For eg. – follow bench press with the bent over barbell row.

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Develop Symmetry with Antagonistic Training

The antagonistic training is better at developing symmetry and eliminating muscle imbalances than most other training methods. If you’re already suffering from a muscle imbalance, train the lagging muscle before the stronger muscle in the alternate sets.

Antagonistic training ensures you’ll be doing enough work on both sides of the bone to build and maintain muscle symmetry. Alternating between pulling and pushing movements will keep you from overdeveloping some muscle groups which can cause a poor posture.

You could also perform supersets as opposed to the alternate sets in the antagonistic training program but be ready for a hard and grueling workout. Make sure you’re following the same intensity in the pulling and the pushing movements.

Use the Same Angles

A major aspect of antagonistic training is to use the same angles while performing the antagonistic exercises. If you’re performing dumbbell chest presses on an incline bench, turn around and perform dumbbell rows as the alternate set for your back.

In the same fashion, follow up the standing military presses with chin-ups. Using the same angles will ensure the muscles in direct opposition to the prime movers are trained more effectively.

The Arnold-Approved Antagonistic Training Program

Day 1 – Chest / Back

Set 1

  • Barbell Bench Press – 3 Sets 15-12-10
  • Bent-Over Barbell Rows – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Set 2

  • Incline Dumbbell Flyes – 3 Sets 15-12-10
  • Chest Supported Dumbbell Rows – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Set 3 

  • Chest Cable Flyes – 5 Sets 15
  • Rear Delt Cable Flyes – 5 Sets 15

Day 2 – Biceps / Triceps

Set 1

  • Cable Bicep Curls – 5 Sets 15-12-10-8
  • Cable Tricep Presses – 5 Sets 15-12-10-8

Set 2

  • Incline Bench Spider Curls – 3 Sets 15-12-10
  • Incline Bench Skullcrushers – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Set 3 

  • Bent Over Concentration Curls – 3 Sets 15-12-10
  • Leaning Dumbbell Tricep Kickbacks – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Day 3 – Shoulders / Back

Set 1

  • Barbell Military Presses – 3 Sets 15-12-10
  • Weighted Chin-ups – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Set 2

  • Plate Front Raises – 3 Sets 15-12-10
  • Straight-Arm Lat Pulldowns – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Set 3 

  • Arnold Presses – 3 Sets 15-12-10
  • Upright Rows – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Day 4 – Quads / Hams

Set 1

  • Leg Extensions – 5 Sets 15-12-10-8
  • Seated Leg Curls – 5 Sets 15-12-10-8

Set 2

  • Leg Press (Feet Low on Platform) – 3 Sets 15-12-10
  • Leg Press (Feet High on Platform) – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Set 3

  • Squats – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Set 4

  • Stiff-Legged Deadlifts – 3 Sets 15-12-10

Have you ever tried the antagonistic training principle? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

*Header image courtesy of Jamie Wyeth under the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.

Vidur is a fitness junky who likes staying up to date with the fitness industry and loves publishing his opinions for everyone to see. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel.