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Build Explosive Strength With The French Contrast Method

Common aims for athletes in many sports include improving speed, strength, power and agility all at the same time. In other words, that 0 – 100 stop-start burst of power and athleticism known as explosive power is a valuable trait that can be utilized on all fields of play. While natural talent, speed and strength can give you the edge over your opponents to an extent, training to improve your explosive power makes the real difference on game day.

What Is French Contrast Method Training?

The French Contrast Method combines complex and contrast training, which make use of post-activation potentiation (PAP). PAP is where a muscle contraction influences the performance of subsequent muscle contractions; in other words, the force exerted by your muscle is increased due to a previous contraction. The idea of this is essentially to inflict more stress on your muscles to create a greater physiological as well as a neurological adaptation that results in improves explosive power and speed endurance. This is achieved by the marriage of two approaches: complex and contrast training.

What Is Complex And Contrast Training?

Complex Training

Complex training is essentially a heavy lifting exercise, involving a compound lift that is immediately followed by a plyometric exercise of a similar range of movement. A good, easy example of this would be a heavy squat, which puts multiple joints and muscle groups to work, followed by a squat jump that is unweighted or considerably lighter.

Contrast Training

Contrast training means a heavy lifting exercise followed immediately by the same exercise at a lighter weight. Similar to the more commonly known drop sets, the advantage of this method of training is that more muscle fibers are used in the movement, with the heavier lift paving way for speed training with the relative ease of the lighter lift. This way of training improves the way in which your muscles can develop force along with endurance.

Is The French Contrast Method Right For You?

The French Contrast Method is considered most suited for advanced athletes and gym goers at the peak of their game. It is designed to improve speed, strength and endurance that you have already worked for, taking it to the next level; in other words, it may be thought of as a peaking method, such as an athlete (or fighter) would find useful as it takes them to their peak potential prior to a competition. As such, it is recommended that you use the French Contrast Method as a block periodical approach to performance training as opposed to a part of your regular rotation. You should think of it more as a ‘training camp’ approach for a two to three week period prior to a game, match or competition.

French Contrast Method Workout Plan

Devising Your Plan

When approaching the French Contrast Method it is advisable to place it at the start of your workout immediately after you have warmed up due to its high intensity, calorie burning nature. You need to be in your prime with regards to energy levels and muscle fatigues to get the best results from the exercises.

Next, your choice of sets should be tailored to your sport or particular ambitions. Identify where the explosive power will be used and which muscles are required. For overall improvement, make sure that the larger muscle groups of your upper and lower body are put to work.

How To Prepare

First of all, you will need to establish your one rep maximum weight lift for the following heavy compound movements. This will allow you to work out the percentage you will be lifting as part of your plan.

The next consideration is your rest between sets. Remember that each set is comprised of more than one exercise – more like a circuit than a superset. You will not rest between each exercise but the rest period between sets is recommended at between three to five minutes. You know your body’s recovery capabilities. The aim is to push yourself but live to do another set.

Example Of A Workout

  • Compound lift | Squat| 80 percent of 1rm | 3 reps
  • Plyometric | Box jump | No weight | 5 reps
  • Jump squat | 30 percent of 1rm | 4 reps
  • Band assisted jump | No weight |4 reps

Repeat each set three times.

  • Bench press | 80 percent of 1rm | 3 reps
  • Speed push-ups | no weight | 5 reps
  • Declining bench press | 80 percent of 1rm | 3 reps
  • Band assisted push up | No weight | 5 reps

Repeat each set three times.


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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye Reid has a Master of Science in Sport Physiology and Nutrition. She puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. Find out more about Faye's experience here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/faye-reid-8b619b122/.

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