Contrast training is widely used by many coaches to help with power development. It involves the usage of several exercises in series to facilitate the potentiation of the nervous system and muscular system.
In the book Special Strength Training: Manual For Coaches, written by Yuri and Natalia Verkhoshansky, it is noted that contrast training is used to help with developing more efficient motor-engrams (movement patterns). This is why the desired movement is performed last. Theoretically, the previous movements that were performed in the series were different variations of the primary desired movement. This puts the body in a “problem solving” state and teaches it to perform the primary movement (when done last) in a more efficient way. This is what I would call a “specific” contrast.
Contrast Training (General)
Contrast training can also be used for more general purposes. For example, a contrast series might be used to prime the athlete’s nervous system and muscular system for an upcoming event. There is no “desired” movement, instead the goal is system potentiation (getting the body ready).
Number of exercises: typically 2-4 (minimal fatigue)
Reps per exercise: Typically 2-4 (depending on number of exercises)
Order: Typically Most amount of force –> Highest velocity
Exercises: High force (small range of motion and not fatiguing), lighter weight band assisted or resisted, and primary movement.
Sets: Dependent on why the contrast is being done. If done in a “training” session you may want a higher number of sets. If contrast is used as a primer before an event, then a lower number of sets may be desired.
- High Knee Angle Isometric Hold (4-8seconds)
- Band Speed Pulls (3reps)
- Band Speed Pull Throughs (3reps)
- Rack Clean Pull (1rep)
- Band Accelerated KB Swings (3reps)
- Pause Jumps (2reps)
- (goal exercise is squat jump)
- Rack Iso pull (4-8 seconds)
- Band Assisted Jumps (5reps)
** Two exercises because of the higher rep band assisted jumps**
Contrasts can be used for several reasons, but regardless of the goal they should all follow the same concept.
- There should be multiple movements,
- each one should facilitate the next
- Intent should be maximal
- Fatigue should be minimal
- Rest between sets should be adequate