French Contrast Method for Explosive Strength and Power

French contrast training for rapid gains in speed and power

To be a successful athlete you need to have elements of strength, speed and power. Performance coaches are constantly seeking methods of training to optimise these specific qualities so that their athletes are successful on the field. One such method that I have used is French Contrasts.

Complex and contrast training utilise the phenomenon of Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP). PAP is the short-term improvement in the contractile ability of the muscle to generate force. This improvement is due to the recruitment of high threshold motor unit, improved intermuscular and intramuscular co-ordination and decreases in pre-synaptic inhibition. (A bit scientificy, but hey we need a bit of jargon in our life every now and then).

Typically complex training is the utilisation of a heavy movement followed by an explosive plyometric movement using the same movement pattern. Contrast training is performing a maximal or near maximal lift followed by a brief rest, followed by a higher velocity set with a lighter load at 50-70% of 1RM.

French Contrasts consists of 4 exercises performed one after another. These include:

  • Heavy compound (80-90% 1RM)
  • A plyometric jump
  • A drop set or weighted jump (30% 1RM)
  • Plyometric or accelerated plyometric

Who should try the French Contrast Method?

So if you don’t have a basic level of strength and power development, I would continue to work on building these qualities in the simplest way you can Bench, Squat and deadlift etc.Training is stress on the body. We are trying to stimulate the body to get the desired adaptations to increase performance. However if you have a longer training age, good strength levels and are seeking methods to increase power output on your athletic field then I would give the French contrasts a shot.

French contrasts allow you to build many abilities in a compact dense way and it covers your bases along the strength-power continuum.

Below is an example:

A1) Back Squat 4 x 3 @85% 1RM

A2) Hurdle Hops 4×1 (1 rep is a series of 4-5 hurdles)- Increase the height slightly

A3) Squat Jump 4×3 @30-40% 1RM

A4) Accelerated Band Squat Jumps 4 x5 (continuous jumps)

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