- First, there is a large ACTION burst of activity by agonists
- Second, there is shorter BRAKING burst by antagonists
- Finally, a short CLAMPING burst by agonists to complete movement
Muscle agonists generally accelerate a limb due to their contraction (shortening of the muscle), while antagonists act in opposition to decelerate and protect the body by distributing the initial forces. This paper went on to show that resistance training decreases the interference between agonist and antagonist muscles. In other words, the movement was more relaxed due to a smoother transition from agonist to antagonist and back again. Great coaches see this phenomenon every day, referring to the improved flow as better coordination or movement synchronization.
There are several avenues for you to improve elasticity outside your sport. Throwing a baseball all day or sprinting for hours is not the answer, as you’ll be exposed to overuse injuries (see Sparta Point 3/15/11) and skill fatigue. So we use more explosive strength movements, such as plyometric or oscillatory squats, that isolate the stretch shortening cycle (see Sparta Point 10/19/09).
This elasticity outside your sport is not for everyone though. Since we know Force = Mass x Acceleration, this elasticity can really benefit the acceleration side of the equation, but using the empty barbell shown above won’t do much for increasing mass. So it seems the tricky part is not just repetition and focus, but also choosing the right exercises for each individual.