T Nation

EDT: Why Train Antagonistic Muscles?


I did a lousy job of asking this in an earlier thread so let me try to keep it simple: Why train antagonistic muscles?

The major principle in EDT is to increase reps. OK, well, the most efficient way to do that is to focus on one exercise at a time . . . for example, 7 1/2 min of bench press followed by 7 1/2 min curls . . . instead of 15 min of alternating between the two.

I've spent the day researching this question on T-Nation and this is the best answer I can find:

" research has shown that you'll achieve better recuperation by performing a set for an antagonistic body part in-between sets. For instance, if you do a set of dumbbell bench presses, do a set for your lats in-between and then go back to your next set of dumbbell bench presses. You'll experience less of a drop in strength in between sets. No one is sure why, but you can bet it has to do with the neurological system. " (From the article A SIMPLETON'S GUIDE TO POLIQUIN PRINCIPLES I)

"Better recuperation?" . . . says who? . . . I haven't seen the research . . . all I know is that if you want to do the max number of reps on the bench press . . . plant your ass on the bench and press. If you want the max number of reps of curls, take your bar to a corner of the gym and do nothing but curls.

So why does EDT recommend alternating between exercises?

And again, my apologies for the confusing way I asked the question earlier.


I think the reason for this is that while you need to rest your push muscles, you work your pull muscles and vice versa. The idea, as I understand it is to do as many reps as possible in the time allotment, since going to failure on any set will whipe you out much faster than not going to failure, you will need to rest.

Why not lift another muscle group, maybe one that doesn't get hit while doing the first exercise. It makes sense, it's time management and it also provides a good amount of energy work while busting your ass. You should really read Mr. Staley's articles before you come around and bash the man's training program in your first few posts here... other than that, welcome to T-Nation.


You should really read Mr. Staley's articles before you come around and bash the man's training program in your first few posts here... other than that, welcome to T-Nation.


Maybe you need to lighten up a little. You must have me confused with some other asshole. I have no problem with Coach Staley or EDT . . . I have lots of respect for both. In fact, I use EDT now and have been for a long time (although I didn't know it was called EDT).

What struck me is that the principle of antagonistic muscle pairings and the principle of maximizing reps APPEAR TO CONFLICT.

Sorry if you don't see that, but they do. All I'm trying to do is go a little deeper and see if maybe there's more to antagonistic pairings that I don't understand.

Thanks for the welcome.



No conflict at all: by managing (rather than seeking) fatigue through anatagonistic pairings, you'll be able to do more reps, and hence, experience a better training effect.


Coach, my confusion is that when I experiment with splitting a 15 min PR and focus 7 1/2 min on bench press and 7 1/2 min on curls, I am able to do more reps.

I believe the reason is because alternating exercises incurs "travel time" . . . the time is takes to move to a new station, address the weight and start the lift. Generally, the travel time is greater than the time spent recuperating after doing the reps.

If your experience shows that antagonistic pairing results in more efficient workouts, then I'm screwing something up, somewhere. I'm finding that discrete focus is more efficient.

Thanks for understanding that I'm not attacking the principles of EDT . . . just a little connfused here about "efficiency."


But Charles, JJJJ (unless I am misrepresenting him) is simply saying that the antagonistic pairings do not do that and more reps are obtainable doing consecutive straight sets for the same amount of overall time.


Depends how far you have to travel. If one exercise in each paring is a barbell or DB exercise, you can move that/those implements to whatever other station you're using, and you have basically no travel time for example.

Aside from that, the travel time you need to go to the other station will virtually always be less than the rest interval you'll need to successfully perform the next set of the same exercise.


It's not the travel time. when you do a set of bench presses, you pump your tri's full of blood, right? So when you do a set of rows right after that, blood is flushed through the tri's, but not under stress/tension, there's not much active contraction. SO the waste gets washed out, the muscle gets some extra nutrients and gets some active recovery going.


OK gentlemen, thanks.

BOUND . . . I had an AH-HAH moment here . . . I understand the flushing effect. Thanks. Great point.

Guess I don't exactly understand what is meant by "rest." A lot of it is psychological. You're "ready" to do more reps when your mind says so . . . but physiologically, you may or may not be at your optimum due to the flushing you describe.

The bottom line is this: I'm moving from exercise to exercise with no dedicated "rest" at the beginning and at most 5-10 seconds late in the PR.

I'm getting my rest by reducing the number of reps by 1-2 and by pausing slightly between reps.



Here this may help. When pairing say a push and a pull. you start with the push. then when you move to the pull the muscles used to push not only relax but have to go to an area of complete relaxation.

To become completely unactivated to allow the pulling to happen. This forces them to a greater state of rest than just resting. When you just rest they stay tense a bit even when you tghink you are relaxing.

Maybe That will help,


jjjj, heh, I typed that out sounding all athoritative, and then realized that my post appeared right after Mr. Staley's. Felt like a bit of an ass. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Hey M.r Staley, I posted this Q for Chad, but also would love your input on it at well. Thanks

"Chad! I am currently hung up on the topic of periodzation. Would you mind giving me (and all the rest of T-Nationers) your input on the different types of periodization? How many types are there out there? Whats the difference between Non Linear Periodization, the Conjugate Periodization, and Undulated? These are just the ones I have heard of. What type of periodization do you incorporate with your training, and which ones do you find most effective?"




Any advice in training for the Atlas stones without any atlas stones? I plan on entering my first strongman competition in about 7-8 weeks just for fun.



Hi Coach,
I posted on DJ's PT thread but wanted to ask you as well, as I respect your opinion as a fitness professional.

Please, if you have the time, check out my football prep thread and let me know what you think and/or offer your suggestions. Thank you for your time.


In faith,

EDIT: Oops. Sorry Coach. I didn't realize that this Prime Time was for a specific topic. (EDT)


That sounds like you are doing EDT correctly, although perhaps with too little weight. Some of your comments earlier seemed to be suggesting that it was more efficient to not pair antagonist exercises because you could just keep doing reps for 7 and a half minutes on one exercise. If this is the case, you're definitely not using enough weight.

Suggest you check out my comment on the other thread.