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5 Workout Tips For Your Best Body You've Likely Never Heard

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FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

I first got into fitness because I grew up very obese. I lost around 130 or so pounds as a teenager, and that transformation sparked the rest of my career. I've been involved in scientific research at institutions like Brown University and have also worked with research teams at other leading institutions in the health sciences. Here are a handful of evidence-based techniques that could help out readers who are probably new to techniques for explosive fitness gains, and would find them valuable. 

Post-Activation Potentiation

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This is basically just a way to help you be more explosive. It only indirectly translates to you becoming more explosive long-term, but directly helps you be more explosive immediately after using this technique. Think of it like a special kind of situational warm-up, that helps you perform better on your very next exercise, but doesn't have benefits that extend much further than that.

It's something that is useful if you're an athlete who cares about how much power you could produce. For example, if you care about how high you can jump or fast you can sprint, this could be a helpful tool to use occasionally in your training. It works by neuromuscularly priming your body before performing the exercise you want to be very explosive during.

If you perform a set with a 5 rep max load with an exercise, then proceed to perform a set of an explosive exercise that uses similar muscles to the first exercise, then you'll have greater performance with the second exercise than you normally would. Because your body recently recruited pretty much all of your muscle fibers for a brief period of time during your 5RM set shortly before your explosive set, it makes it easier for you to recruit more muscle fibers and use those fibers with a higher motor unit rate coding than you otherwise would.

This just translates to you producing more force faster for that one set. Long-term it could make you more explosive by virtue of you being more explosive in your training. 

How to Do Post-Activation Potentiation

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You can perform a heavy back squat with your 5RM, and then perform a counter movement jump shortly afterwards. The CMJ is explosive and shares agonist muscles with the back squat, such as the gluteus maximus, quadriceps femoris, and many others.

You can perform a heavy bench press with your 5RM, and then perform an explosive push up shortly afterwards. The explosive pushup is explosive and shares agonist muscles with the bench press, such as the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid. 

Related: 11 Ways Women Can Lose Weight and Keep it Off for Good

Agonist-Antagonist Inhibition


This happens when you train two antagonist muscles back to back. Antagonist muscles are basically ones that have the opposite function of each other. In many cases, but not all, they are on the opposite side of each other on your body. So it can be easy to identify some of them. The easiest pair to think of are the biceps and triceps.

The biceps flex your elbow, and the triceps extend your elbow. Normally, muscles exert passive tension on your joints, which resists the efforts of their antagonist because antagonists pull on your body in the opposite way. In practice this results in you being able to perform less reps because it's a bit harder to do so. Agonist-antagonist inhibition, also called reciprocal inhibition, lets you fatigue an antagonist of a muscle so you can get more out of the muscle you're trying to train.

It's super simple to do. You just train two exercises back to back with minimal rest, that involve opposite muscles. This will be most helpful for the muscle you train second because it'll most directly benefit from the effects of agonist-antagonist inhibition. 

How to Do Agonist-Antagonist Inhibition

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You can perform a set of barbell curls and set of rope tricep extensions back to back. These involve antagonist muscles, so it'll help you get more out of whichever you use in your second set.

You can perform a set of seated leg extensions and lying hamstring curls back to back. These involve antagonist muscles since one focuses on a muscle that extends your knee and the other focuses on a muscle that flexes your knee.

De-emphasizing Biarticular Muscles

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This happens when you position your body in such a way that a muscle that has multiple functions is basically busy engaging with one of those functions, so isn't very effective at performing its other functions. If a muscle has the ability to flex the knee and extend the hip, but is already flexing the knee, it won't contribute as much force towards hip extension.

This can be useful if you want to isolate a muscle that shares a function with the biarticular muscle. If two muscles share a function, they usually both contribute to it. So going back to that example: if a second muscle extended the hip too, normally both the second muscle and the first one would contribute a lot of force to hip extension.

But, if the first muscle is already shortened because the knee is fully flexed, then hip extension will be much more dependent on the second muscle. This lets you emphasize the muscle you want a little more. This only works with muscles that contribute to multiple joint actions and won't work with every muscle combination.

Related: 8 Ways to Eat Your Way to 6-Pack

How to De-emphasize Biarticular Muscles

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You can perform a glute kickback with your knee flexed. This de-emphasizes the role of the hamstrings since they are involved in both hip extension and knee flexion. This means that the role of hip extension then gets shifted more heavily towards your glutes. This can help you build your glutes more easily.

You can perform a leg raise with your knees extended. This de-emphasizes the role of your hip flexors since your rectus femoris has a role in hip flexion, but also is involved in knee extension. This causes the exercise to shift more focus towards your abs.

How to Keep Focused

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There aren't really any major risks with using anything I'd discussed. The most important thing to keep in mind is probably with post-activation potentiation. It's easy to lose focus when lifting something heavy, if your mind is already moving on to the next thing you're going to do when the set is over. It's more common for people's minds to wander when the whole reason they're lifting something heavy is to prep them for what they're about to do in a few moments. It's important to stay focused on what you're doing, because injuries happen when you stop paying attention. 

Results You'll See By Incorporating These Techniques


A regular person won't really see anything extreme following any of these techniques. It would be disingenuous to say that you could expect to see a huge change from what you'd see by not using these techniques. 

If used appropriately, you might be able to see a small increase in long-term power following regular post activation potentiation use in your training. The effects of post activation potentiation are interesting since they differ depending on how well trained someone is. If you're not that well trained, you won't see that much of a difference. But, if you're very well trained, then you will see more of a difference. Athletes in particular may benefit from multiple priming sets, although this would lead to a lot more fatigue in a less well trained population.

You might be able to squeeze out an occasional extra rep or two using agonist-antagonist training somewhat regularly. It could lead to a small increase in the amount of muscle you build, but you would still benefit from using regular training techniques as well and not using this technique all the time. You can grow in different ways by relying on this technique vs. other methods, relying just on this technique can only get you so far.
When it comes to de-emphasizing biarticular muscles, you will notice a meaningful difference in how much an exercise supports adaptation in the muscle you're shifting emphasis towards.

However, when this is considered in the context of being able to just train that muscle directly anyway through other exercises, the actual net gain will be on the small end. But, everything helps. Just don't forget to also adequately train the muscle you're de-emphasizing. Every training tool has a place and this can help you with special goals and in special circumstances.

Related: 15 Proven Ways to Sculpt Your Dream Body by An Expert Coach

Final Word From the Expert


It's worth keeping in mind that you don't have to use these techniques all of the time. You shouldn't use these techniques all of the time. They are tools, like anything else. Use them when they are most appropriate to use. Use them in the context that makes the most sense. 

💪🔥Body Booster: For a quick power surge, try a heavy lift before a sprint or jump.

Domenic Angelino, associated with Trainer Academy, is a seasoned fitness industry expert with a decade-long experience. His specializations include Biomechanics, Resistance Training, Strength & Conditioning, and Exercise Psychology.

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