Single-Rep Antagonistic Time-Volume Training for Strength

By Nick Nilsson
Author of Mad Scientist Muscle

One of the toughest things to do in the training world is to maintain and even BUILD strength while on a fat-loss program.

It's a struggle to keep your strength when you're on a's a constant battle between losing fat (which puts your body in a primarily catabolic state) and trying to keep as much muscle and strength as possible while you're doing it.

Doesn't mean it can't be done, though...

Nick Nilsson - Time-Volume Training

And that's where this version of my Time-Volume Training program comes into play.

I call it "Single-Rep Antagonistic Time-Volume Training"...or SRATVT, for short (ok, I'm not really going to call it SRATVT, but you get the idea...).

If you're not familiar with Time-Volume Training, the concept is basically a form of density training, where you stay away from failure, focusing on overall training volume instead...(I'll start you off with the primary version here). It's extremely effective and a lot of fun!

1. Start with a set block of time, e.g. 15 minutes
2. Pick an exercise and a weight, e.g. a weight you can get about 10 reps with.
3. Do 3 reps of the exercise then rest 10 seconds.
4. Repeat this until you can no longer get 3 reps.
5. Then rest 20 seconds and repeat until you can no longer get 3 reps.
6. Then rest 30 seconds...then 40 seconds (if necessary), etc.
7. Repeat until your 15 minute block of time is up.
8. If you can make it through 5 minutes without having to increase rest to 20 seconds then increase the weight the next time you do that exercise.

That's it!

For a more in-depth explanation on how it works and how to use it in a full program, check out "Time/Volume Training - A Program For Building Mass Even With Bodyweight Exercises"


Now back to Single-Rep Antagonistic Time-Volume Training...

This version of TV Training will utilize single rep sets instead of 3 rep sets. And instead of using just one exercise, you will alternate between two antagonistic exercises.

In terms of building and maintaining strength, this framework has several major benefits...

1. Single reps with sub-maximal weight won't destroy your nervous system, which is especially important while on a reduced-calorie diet.

2. Using antagonistic exercises has the benefit of keeping the muscles fresher for longer. There's more time between when you'll be hitting that exercise again when done in this fashion, while still allowing for substantial workload.

3. Antagonistic exercises have the potential to boost strength by 5% in the opposing muscle group. In practical terms, it means if you bench 200 lbs for a 1 RM, by using an antagonistic exercise right before, you could potentially bench 210 lbs for a 1 RM.

In terms of Time-Volume Training, it means you'll be able to keep at the 10 second rest period for longer than you would if working a non-antagonistic muscle group instead. This means you'll be able to do more volume at that given weight.

You'll be stronger for longer, in simpler terms.



How to Do Single-Rep Antagonistic Time-Volume Training

Start by selecting two antagonistic exercise to work with. In the demo, I'm using trap bar deadlifts (with 455 lbs) and flat barbell bench press (with 255 lbs). Use a weight you would be able to get 4 to 6 reps with in a normal set.

Other good pairings include squats and stiff-legged deadlifts, barbell curls and decline close grip bench press, dumbbell bench press and rows/chins/pulldowns

You'll notice I didn't mention leg extensions and leg curls...these two exercises are not recommended because they really won't do much for strength.

Set your timer for 15 minutes (or check your watch or the gym clock - a timer does work best, though).

Start with one rep of deadlifts.

How to Do Single-Rep Antagonistic Time-Volume Training

How to Do Single-Rep Antagonistic Time-Volume Training

Now set the the weight down and go right over to the bench press. The 10 seconds rest you have is pretty much just enough time to go to the other exercise and get set up. Ideally, you want your two exercises to be set up close to each other because of this.

Do a single rep of the bench press.

How to Do Single-Rep Antagonistic Time-Volume Training

How to Do Single-Rep Antagonistic Time-Volume Training

Re-rack the weight then go right back to the deadlifts.

Repeat this sequence, doing singles on 10 seconds rest until you get to the point where you'd really have to push hard to get that single rep.

The goal here is to maintain PERFECT form on every single rep. You're doing relatively high-volume training with heavy weight and you want to be teaching your nervous system properly.

Since you're doing singles with sub-maximal weight, there's no excuse for training with poor form. If your form does break down, it's time to increase the rest to 20 seconds.

Go to 20 seconds rest between BOTH exercises, not just one. It's simpler to keep track of and, being honest, once you get to this point, you'll really need the rest.

Keep going in this fashion until your 15 minute block of time is up, increasing rest to 30 seconds if you need to (then 40 sec).



This style of single-rep antagonistic training gives you the best of both trains you specifically for strength while providing enough volume (with very short rest) to elicit a massive metabolic response.

It's really an example of Metabolic Resistance Training at it's finest.

If you're struggling with keeping your strength while on a fat-loss program, this framework is EXACTLY what you need to maintain and even build strength.



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