Training antagonistic (opposing) muscles groups has been touted for years as one of the more efficient, effective ways to work out. It provides great blood flow and “pump” to the target muscle groups, enhancing growth and recovery. One of the more unrecognized benefits is that it can be used to train functionally in an extremely effective manner.

To some degree, many antagonistic muscle groups work almost in unison, with one flexing or working while the other stretches or relaxes. Consider a bicep curl: As you lift the weight, the biceps get tight, obviously, and at the same time, the triceps get a break; switch up this movement, to, say, a triceps pushdown, and the biceps become elongated and nearly taken out of the equation, only returning to flexion at the very top of the triceps movement.

back, chest, push, pull, workout, exercise, trainingTo apply this to a big-muscle group, consider a push-pull workout, which targets the chest, shoulders and back functionally when done properly. Supersets are a great way to get through these workouts, as multiple muscle groups can mean prolonged exercise sessions. The chest, triceps, shoulders and core all benefit from pushing movements; pulling movements strengthen the biceps, core, back and parts of the shoulder as well.

3 Supersets: 12 DB Bench Press/12 Bent-Over DB Rows. If you’re feeling like you really want to move, you can use the exact same dumbbells for both movements, never setting them down.

3 Supersets: 12 Incline BB Bench Press/12 Wide-Grip Pull-Ups. If you can’t do 12 pull-ups, either use an assisted pull-up machine (if you can’t do even 6-8) or go to failure.

3 Supersets: 10 Plyometric Push-Ups/12 Medicine Ball Slams. If you don’t have access to medicine balls (or the gym doesn’t like you slamming them into the ground), you can sub in Wide-Grip Standing Cable Pushdowns.

3 Supersets: 10 DB Flys/10 Inverted Rows. Perform your inverted rows on a Smith machine by lowering the bar, then simply pull yourself up, belly up and body parallel to the ground.

Multi-Grip Back Workout

Head into the weekend with one good, solid back workout using different grips for a range of exercises that will help develop size, detail and strength. This workout is designed to work both the horizontal and vertical planes of the back for development of width and thickness as well.

Wide-grip overhand pull-ups: 5 sets to failure

Overhand-grip T-bar rows: 5×5

Reverse-grip pull-ups: 5 sets to failure. If your sets aren’t at least 5 reps, switch to a lat pulldown machine and lighten the weight.

Wide, neutral-grip seated cable rows: 4×12

One-arm dumbbell rows: 4×8, per arm.

Narrow, neutral-grip lat pulldowns: 3×12.

Shrugs: 5×15.

The Strongman Back Workout


This workout is from Chad Schmidt, a NUTRISHOP CDA Sponsored Athlete. He was Idaho’s Strongest Man in 2005, 2008 and 2009, and is competing again this year. This is one of his actual workouts, with his tips included. Enjoy!

Take this workout to the gym with you in easy, printable .pdf format. Print it out here.

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  • I prefer 18 inch deadlifts from a squat rack/power rack.

  • Typically I work my way up to 5 sets of 8-10 reps. My warm-up sets typically are 15 reps and I go how my body feels that day.

  • Use straps on your heavy sets, because in most strongman comps they allow straps.

Pull Ups (use a band if you have to)

  • 5 sets for as many as you can, use bands for assistance on the last sets.

Barbell Bent Over Rows

  • 4×12 overhand grip (No straps at all).

Upright Barbell Rows

  • 4×12.

Face Pulls

  • 4×20 (these are an accessory lift and not a heavy movement at all).

Farmers Walk

  • Use a pair of lighter dumbbells holding to the sides of your body.

  • NO STRAPS — this is a great grip and core exercise.

  • 5 sets with a 200’ walk.

Workout Wednesday: High-Volume Back Day

High-Volume Back Workout

Use our handy .pdf to print out this workout to take to the gym with you, and do this workout to help build a back that will turn heads!