Background: In the constant search for performance improvement in resistance training, different techniques and training methods are created and constantly reinvented by practitioners
and strength coaches. One of the methods that still lacks research is the ipsilateral agonist-contralateral antagonist. This method consists in performing an exercise that requires simultaneous
contractions of contralateral antagonists muscles, for example, the right elbow flexors and the left elbow extensors. Some authors suggest that muscle tension and consequently acute performance are
enhanced when the contralateral antagonist muscle is contracted at the same time as it performs the movement of the ipsilateral agonist. But no studies were found about the method. Thus, the aim of
this study was to investigate the influence of contralateral antagonist contraction on acute performance and perceived exertion of ipsilateral agonist exercise.
Methods: Seventeen young, healthy, resistance trained men (age: 23.3 ± 4.9 years, height: 173.0 ± 5,2 cm, and total body mass: 74.2 ± 7.35 Kg, BMI: 24.8 ± 2.2 Kg/m², resistance
training experience: 3.3 ± 2.3 years, 1RM test of right elbow flexion: 22.6 ± 4.6 kg) were recruited to participate in the current study. Volunteers attended three sessions in the laboratory. In the
first session 1RM test of right elbow flexion exercise with dumbbell on Scott bench was performed. The following two sessions were randomized. In the control session, the subjects performed a maximum
repetition test in right elbow flexion exercise with dumbbell on Scott bench with 75% 1RM, adopting free cadence. The experimental session was similar, but the subjects were instructed to maintain
maximal voluntary isometric contraction of the left elbow extensors during the test, keeping the left arm parallel to the body. At end of workout sessions, the total number of repetitions correctly
performed to voluntary fatigue and the perceived exertion measures was evaluated. Volume load was calculated by multiplying the total number of repetitions by the load (kg). A Paired Sample t-test was
used to compare differences between experimental condition and control for all dependent variables. The P-value of 0.05 was used to determine statistical significance.
Results: Significant differences (p < 0.001) were found between experimental session at maximum repetitions at 75% 1RM (control: 12 ± 3 reps; experimental: 14 ± 4 reps) and total load
(control: 212 ± 59 Kg; experimental: 238 ± 59 Kg) (Figure 1). No differences (p = 0.749) were found on RPE between interventions (control: 7.5 ± 1.2, experimental: 7.4 ± 1.0).
Conclusions: The maximum voluntary contraction of contralateral antagonist positively influenced the performance of repetition maximum test in the ipsilateral agonist exercise,
reflecting a significantly increase in TL, with no differences in the perceived exertion relative to control session.