Sorry for another long break between posts – but I am FINALLY back to normal after one hell of a sickness. I hope you all had a great Easter for those who celebrate, and don’t beat yourself up if you ate one too many cadbury creme eggs – they’re worth it. 😉
Along similar lines of this ballistic training stuff I’ve been talking about, I thought I’d talk about something we incorporate into a lot of our workouts. “Contrast sets” are something most people are familiar with, but many don’t know how to program correctly. They’re ideal for bridging the gap between strength & power, and they help the neuromuscular system fire key muscle fibers despite fatigue. They’re killer, and there are a lot of different combinations you can use to achieve optimal results.
Contrast training essentially takes the same movement pattern and muscle groups for 2 exercises but varies the speed and intensity in the same set. An example of this is seen when a lifter performs a barbell back squat followed immediately by box jumps. The recommended reps can fall anywhere between 5-10, depending on the goal, but for athletes trying to achieve explosive power under fatigue, they want to stick to the 5-6 range. Time under tension is important here, and using any more than those 6 reps during the strength movement will push away from the proper metabolic response. It is also key to use enough weight to elicit a STRENGTH response, because too light will defeat the purpose. Shooting for 85%-90% 1RM (for a seasoned lifter) is the goal.
When it comes to programming these, if you are using a TRUE contrast set in the proper % of 1RM, it is important to put them at the beginning. They are very neurologically demanding & require the most amount of energy. Usually picking 1 or 2 exercises to contrast per workout is sufficient.
Nick Tumminello has a great article with more examples on contrast training HERE – I don’t want to copy any of his stuff, so check it out. He also provides great examples for just about every movement.
I tend to use front squats & lateral jumps the most, but I’ve tried a lot of the ones Nick suggests. Anyone use contrast training in their programs?