Contrast Training For Better Sports Performance
Contrast training to supercharge sports performance.
Contrast training is used when a high load exercise is followed by a low load exercise straight away in the same set. This can either be the same exercise or 2 exercises which, are very similar in movement pattern and use the same muscle or muscle group. In this article, we will talk about contrast training for better sports performance.
THE VIDEO: Contrast Training to SUPERCHARGE Sports Performance
The high load exercise needs to be higher than 70% 1RM but closer to between 80-90% 1RM. Whereas, the low load exercise is usually less than 50% 1RM and including body weight. Furthermore, both exercises are to be done with the intention of lifting at maximal speed even though the load might be heavy and feels that you are moving slow. The idea behind contrast training is that when we complete an exercise with a heavy load, we increase the neuromuscular activation by increasing our motor unit recruitment. This will in turn increase our power output and performance in the exercises to follow using the same muscles. This is also known as PAP or Post-activation Potentiation of the neuromuscular system. There is short term enhancement in the neuromuscular system after a heavy load exercise resulting in a short time frame after that which, will increase explosiveness in a successive exercise.
When using contract training, we should be aiming for sets of around 3-4 repetitions for the heavy load exercise and 3-6 repetitions of the low load, quicker exercise. The reason for the low volume in the heavy load exercise is that although, we are getting our neuromuscular system stimulated, it will not be too taxing and we can still produce high forces in the subsequent movement. Aim to have around 30s rest after the heavy load exercise and a few seconds in between the explosive exercises. Then, take 3-5mins in between sets for full recovery. Use contrast training at the beginning of your session before your other accessory work and aim to do 4-5 sets.
A few examples of contrast training are:
- Back Squat & Speed Squats
- Deadlift & Vertical Jump
- Bench Press & MB Chest Press
- Bench Press & Explosive Push Ups / Push Ups to Block
With contrast training make sure that you have a good strength foundation to prevent injury from heavy loading and high forces. Make sure that you use compound movements for the heavy load exercises while avoiding isolation exercises. You move with the quickest intent in both types of exercises and take the appropriate rest in between the heavy and low load exercises as well as in between sets for optimal force production and recovery.