Updated: Jul 15
Want to take your performance to the next level? Want to become quicker, stronger and more powerful or are a coach looking to take your athletes training to the next level? Well, read on as this article explains how the French Contrast Method may help you to achieve this…
In my previous blog post, I spoke about a method of complex training called Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP) Training and how performing a heavy compound exercise (E.g. Half-Squat) followed by approximately 3-12 minutes of rest and then a biomechanically similar plyometric exercise (E.g. Vertical Jump), could lead to increasing the plyometric jump distance/ height.
This phenomenon occurs due to the increased recruitment of motor units, which increasing the rate of force development (RFD) and therefore increases the contractile ability of the muscle to generate force.
Here is a great explanation of PAP – “Imagine that you are loading boxes of bricks into your car. You have loaded several boxes when you go to pick up another box that is mislabeled. Instead of bricks, it's loaded with pillows. You grab the box and nearly fall over backward as it comes flying off the floor. Your perceived force needed to lift the box was much greater than the force actually needed to lift it - you were potentiated from lifting the heavier boxes first” (Dietz, C., & Peterson, B.). Still sound confusing?!?! Well, click here to read our full article on PAP.
The French Contrast Method is a type of contrast training and uses the PAP effect to enhance power. However, it works in a slightly different way. Contrast training also uses a heavy compound set but is followed by submaximal drop sets/ assisted exercises. It was developed by French Track & Field Coach- Gilles Cometti, hence the name.
This training method usually consists of 4 exercises performed one after another. This could involve:
A1. Heavy Compound exercise (80-90% 1RM)
A2. Plyometric exercise
A3. Weighted Jump (30% 1RM)
A4. Assisted/ Accelerated Plyometric
Once the Heavy Compound exercise and the plyometric exercise have been performed, the athlete then performs the Weighted Jump. This is the point where the athlete switches over from power development to training explosive work capacity. This is beneficial for athletes as it allows them to improve power whilst under fatigue from the previous exercises.
The fourth and final exercise (1D) is based on an over-speed movement which should be performed at a high speed. This may feature Resistance Band assisted jumps or any plyometric exercise where ground contact is less than or equal to what they experience in their sport so the athlete can jump higher than usual.
Here are some combinations for building explosiveness in different areas of the body:
Lower Body Push/ Vertical exercises:
A1. Back Squat - Barbell – 80% 1RM, 5 reps
A2. Vertical Jump – Bodyweight, 5 reps
A3. Jump Squat - Barbell – 30% 1RM, 5 reps
A4. Over-Speed Vertical Jump - Resistance Band - 5 reps
Lower Body Pull / Horizontal exercises:
A1. Deadlift - Barbell – 80% 1RM, 5 reps
A2. Broad Jump – Resistance Band, 5 reps
A3. Hex Bar Deadlift Jump - Hex Bar – 30% 1RM
A4. Broad Jump – Bodyweight, 5 reps
Lower Body Single Leg exercises:
A1. Hatfield Bulgarian Split Squat - SS Bar – 80% 1RM, 5 reps
A2. Bulgarian Split Squat Jump – Bodyweight, 5 reps
A3. Bulgarian Split Squat Jump - Dumbbell – 30% 1RM, 5 reps
A4. Over-Speed Split Squat Jump - Resistance Band - 5 reps
Upper Body Push / Horizontal exercises:
A1. Bench Press - Barbell – 80% 1RM, 5 reps
A2. Plyometric Push Up – Bodyweight, 5 reps
A3. Bench Press - Barbell, Chains – 30% 1RM, 5 reps
A4. Over-Speed Plyometric Push-Up - Resistance Band – 5 reps
Upper Body Push / Vertical exercises:
A1. Overhead Press - Barbell – 80% 1RM, 5 reps
A2. Overhead Throw - Medicine Ball – 5 reps
A3. Overhead Press - HBT - Barbell, Kettlebell, Resistance Band – 30% 1RM, 5 reps
A4. High Pull - Cable Machine – 5 reps
These exercises should be performed at the start of the workout with 0-30 seconds rest in between each exercise. They should be performed for around 3 sets and at the end of the compound set, you should rest for 2-5 minutes depending on the intensity of the weight used in the compound exercise. For the remainder of the workout, I would focus on assistance exercises for the smaller muscle groups.
As you get more advanced at this training method, the stretch shortening cycle (SSC) could be applied to the exercises. For example, you could perform the heavy compound exercise with modifications to the eccentric, isometric or concentric movement. Chains, Resistance Bands and the Hanging Band Technique (HBT) can also be used to make the exercises harder.
This type of training is usually only appropriate for more advanced athletes and for those who have at least 3 years of strength training experience as the high intensity places a high amount of stress on the Central Nervous System (CNS). Therefore, this method should only be performed by elite high school athletes, collegiate, professional and Olympic athletes.
You should avoid training with this method year-round as it may lead to overtraining. Therefore, it may be beneficial to factor this type of training into your training regime near the end of a macrocycle, for example, if you are looking at peaking in your power phase.
The French Contrast Method/ PAP Training is featured in some of our training plans. Please click the links below for more information:
(Uses PAP & FCM)
Thank you for reading this article. I hope that you have learned something new and it has been beneficial in helping you to become more efficient and effective in your training/ coaching regime.
Please leave any comments, questions, or ideas for further article posts below. Feel free to contact us on social media- @turqperformance or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. GET IT DONE!!
Dietz, C., & Peterson, B. (2012). Triphasic Training: A Systematic Approach to Elite Speed and
Explosive Strength Performance (5/28/12 ed., p. 154). Bye Dietz Sports Enterprise.