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Wednesday August 15, 2018

Ivan Blazquez - Bodybuilder - TriathleteAccelerate Fat-Loss with Antagonistic Muscle Group Post-RT Cardio

By Ivan Blazquez, M.Ed, B.S., ACSM, NGA Pro Natural Bodybuilder, Triathlete

Most people know to perform cardio after weights, however, did the mode of cardio ever cross one's mind as being a potential additional factor in one's fat loss goals? For instance, if one were to do an upper body workout (i.e. chest and back), the ideal cardio choice would be a lower body exercise (i.e. bike, walk/jog/run, elliptical, stepper, etc.). Theoretically, the upper body musculature will be reduced of glycogen and therefore not as capable of training at a higher intensity during the post- resistance training (RT) cardio. However, the legs will be fresh and could therefore have a greater capacity to expend more energy and intensify the post-RT cardio session. Now as far as the entire post-RT cardio needing to be of lower intensity to burn more fat (via fat-burning zone), this can be true in some cases as aforementioned, but as any fitness professional can attest to; at the end of the day, what counts is total caloric expenditure. Like the fitness informercial for the workout DVD "Insanity," Shaun T says, "You have this body, you want that body, you gotta take a straight line to get that body. No walking on the treadmill at 4.5 mph with a 3 degree incline. Do this! Go as hard as you possibly can." And this acceleration fat loss method is exactly that. Why taper the intensity of cardio because the lower body is fatigued? One could simply do boxing or an arm cycle at a higher intensity while the lower body gets a break from the weight training workout and all the while, you will be melting away body fat quicker than lava can melt candle wax! Of course there are exceptions. For instance, doing lower intensity cardio would be appropriate after weight training if one is unduly fatigued from weights. However, if one were still feeling energetic and good, increasing the post-RT cardio intensity may be a worthwhile venture.

Ivan Blazquez - Side SerratusThere are several provocative physiological scenarios that could be a possibility with this fat-loss method. Theoretically, the broken down body fat from the resistance trained muscle groups (i.e. lower body) could be better oxidized by the more fresh muscle groups (i.e. upper body) that are not as acidic from high-intensity resistance exercise (Mills et al., 1984). Research has shown that it could be possible spot-reduce to some degree (Stallknecht et al., 2007). This study showed that when exercise was performed on certain a body part prior to endurance exercise, the mobilized fats in the area were more likely to be taken up for utilization (Stallknecht et al., 2007). Conceivably, this effect could occur regardless of the muscle group being trained. The body does not necessarily care where the body fat comes from, just so long as it has it available to use. This was the premise for debunking the spot-reduction myth in the first place. For instance, performing lots of crunches does not mean one will induce more fat to be burned preferentially over the abdomen simply because more heat and blood flow are being generated there. First of all, crunches are an anaerobic activity, so fat is not a high-priority fuel during crunches. But, perhaps maybe some coaxing of fat-loss could potentially occur to a small degree if cardio were performed after or before crunches. All in all, spot reduction is still largely accepted as a myth and one study does not change that fact. The most important thing is calories in vs. calories out. The spot reduction possibility can likely become more relevant in advanced trainees or individuals who are at a low bodyfat (</- 10% for men; </- 18% for women). But even then, there are no guarantees and this thought of spot reduction is still largely hypothetical. What is tried and true is burning more calories than are consumed over the long haul.

Bodybuilder Ivan Blazquez in TriathalonAnother enticing scenario is how reducing the body's glycogen stores more efficiently can induce the body to burn more fat at rest (Kimber et al., 2003; Schrauwen et al., 1997). Glycogen replenishment becomes a priority as a function of the SAID (specific adaptations to imposed demands) principle (McArdle et al., 2001) and the body adapting to a person's physically-active lifestyle (Kiens & Richter, 1998; Kimber et al., 2003). In a person who exercises often at a challenging-intensity, the body will use more fat for energy and protect glycogen (Kiens & Richter, 1998; Kimber et al., 2003; MaClean et al., 2009). This is the opposite of what occurs in people who are overweight or obese and sedentary. Due to many factors, one possibly being lack of exercise, the body can adapt to this sedentary state and actually fight to stay overweight or obese (Flatt, 1996; Goodpaster et al., 2002; Schwartz et al., 2003). However in individuals who exercise often at a challenging-intensity, with less glycogen available in a wider variety of muscle groups across the board, fat oxidation will be stimulated to a greater degree while the body is replenishing glycogen (Kiens & Richter, 1998; Kimber et al., 2003; Schrauwen et al., 1997).

Take Home Message

All in all, this new fat-loss technique may be the small little tweak to help you break through a weight loss or fat loss plateau. This novel approach is unique and can be of great benefit to advanced trainees, but it can also have broader implications for people of any age or fitness level. We know that exercise is good for us and it is important in weight management (Wing & Hill, 2001). However, how to go about it can sometimes be perplexing. The approach in this article supports a common, yet ideal weight management approach to exercise training, which is to optimize weight loss through fat loss and muscle mass preservation. Antagonistic muscle group post-RT cardio can theoretically maximize strength performance during the weight session and maximize total fat calories burned during cardio. I personally have incorporated this training method and have found it to be very effective. The most important thing is to listen to one's body and ultimately reap the benefits of trying new ideas and training regimens. As is known, it is the change or mix of things that challenges the body in new ways thereby preventing stagnation and promoting progress!

Ivan Blazquez - most muscular poseSample Upper body workout + Antagonistic Muscle Group Post-RT Cardio

5-10 minute warm-up.
2x15 reps rotator cuff warm-up (external rotations using light resistance with cable, dumbbell or band).

*Super-Sets: Should take ~ 15-30 minutes to complete. Rest between sets should be the amount of time it takes to go from one exercise to the next.

Dumbbell decline chest press: 3x15-10-8
1-Arm dumbbell row: 3x15-10-8
Supine cable fly: 3x10
Inverted Rows: 3x20


Supine cable flyes: 3x15 immediately followed by 3x20 push-ups.

Cable row: 3x20 immediately followed 3x20 inverted rows on a smith machine or TRX.

*Go through each exercise once, then come back to the next set, rather than performing 3 straight sets.

Antagonistic Muscle Group Post-RT cardio
15-30 minutes spinning at high-intensity (i.e. intervals of 10-sec hard, 30-sec easy or steady high-moderate intensity [90-110 RPM at 5-15 resistance])
**If unduly fatigued, 15-30 minutes spinning at a low-moderate intensity.

5-15 minutes general stretching.

Sample Lower body workout + Antagonistic Muscle Group Post-RT Cardio

5-10 minute warm-up.
1x15 knee exts.

*Super-Sets: Should take ~ 15-30 minutes to complete.

Leg Press: 3x15-10-8
Knee ext: 3x15-12-12
Prone ham curls: 3x15-10-8
Inner thigh machine: 2x12
Outer thigh machine: 2x12


Squats: 3x15-10-8 immediately followed by 3x20 stationary bodyweight lunges.

Hamstring curl machine: 3x15 immediately followed 3x10-15 Modified Razor Curls (Place a yoga mat right below knees, not on knees. This exercise can be performed on a sit-up bench)

*Go through each exercise once, then come back to the next set, rather than performing 3 straight sets.

Antagonistic Muscle Group Post-RT cardio
10-20 minutes swimming, arm cycle, boxing or elliptical with emphasis on using arms more.
* This can be done as interval training. 1 lap swim free-style, 2-3 laps swim breaststroke. Do this for time going 10-20 minutes. If available, simply crank away on the arm cycle at a challenging intensity. For boxing, if available, one could work the heavy bag with combinations (i.e. jabs, hooks and uppercuts), have his/her personal trainer hold up mitts working on target hitting and speed, use a speed bag or simply shadow box. If elliptical is cardio choice, just select an interval program on the machine and follow it using a resistance that is challenging.

**If unduly fatigued, 10-20 minutes swimming/arm cycle/boxing/elliptical at a low-moderate intensity.

5-15 minutes general stretching.

Thanks for reading, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Fitness Writer Ivan BlazquezCopyright:

The information provided in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not serve as a replacement to care provided by your own personal health care team or physician. The author does not render or provide medical advice, and no individual should make any medical decisions or change their health behavior based on information provided here. Reliance on any information provided by the author is solely at your own risk. The author accepts no responsibility for materials contained in the article and will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary, or other damages arising from the use of information contained in this or other publications. Copyright Ivan Blazquez, 2011. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder and author of this publication.

Oliver, GD, Stone, AJ, Wyman, JW, Blazquez, IN. (2012). Muscle activation of the torso during the modified razor curl hamstring exercise, International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 7(1), 49-57.


Flatt, J.P. (1996). Glycogen levels and obesity, International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 20(Suppl 2), S1-S11.

Goodpaster et al. (2002). Effects of obesity on substrate utilization during exercise, Obesity Research, 10(7), 575-584.

Kiens & Richter (1998). Utilization of skeletal muscle triglycerol during postexercise recovery in humans, American Journal of Physiology, 275(2 pt 1), E332-E337.

Kimber et al. (2003). Skeletal muscle fat and carbohydrate metabolism during recovery from glycogen-depleting exercise in humans, The Journal of Physiology, 548, 919-927.

MaClean et al. (2009). Regular exercise attenuates the metabolic drive to regain weight after long-term weight loss, American Journal of Physiology: Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 297(3), R793-R802.

McArdle et al. (2001). Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance, 5th edition, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD.

Mills et al. (1984). Effect of pH on the interaction of substrates and malonyl-CoA with mitochondrial carnitine palmitoyltransferase I, The Biochemical Journal, 219(2), 601-608.

Schrauwen et al. (1997). Role of glycogen-lowering exercise in the change of fat oxidation in response to a high-fat diet, American Journal of Physiology, 273, E623-E629.

Schwartz et al. (2003). Is the energy homeostasis system inherently biased toward weight gain? Diabetes, 52(2), 232-238.

Stallknecht et al. (2007). Are Blood Flow and Lipolysis in Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue Influenced By Contractions in Adjacent Muscles in Humans? American Journal of Physiology: Endocrinology and Metabolism, 292, E394-E399.

T., Shaun (2010). Insanity: 60-Day Total Body Conditioning Program. Retrieved May 11, 2010, from

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