How to Utilize Contrast Training for Strength, Power, and Performance

by Charley Gould
Personal Training Quarterly January 2021
Vol 7, Issue 3


The purpose of this article is to provide an introduction to contrast training, including how it is defined, what variables are utilized, and examples of how to use it in training.

For athletes and individuals with performance-based goals, it is well-established that performing both strength and plyometric training is far more effective for improving strength, power, speed, and overall performance than performing one or the other exclusively (2,19,59). However, not all forms of combined strength and plyometric training are created equal. In particular, one such method that has garnered widespread attention among strength and conditioning coaches and researchers alike is contrast training (also referred to as complex training).

As popularized by Verkhoshansky and Siff in Supertraining, contrast training has become an intriguing method of combined strength and plyometric training for its well-established ability to improve a multitude of athletic qualities simultaneously (15,54). In fact, numerous studies, reviews, and meta-analyses have suggested that contrast training may lead to greater improvements in various measures of performance (e.g., sprint speed, jump height) than any other form of combined strength and plyometric training (12,16,24).

However, contrast training is a complex modality that strength and conditioning coaches should seek to understand prior to its implementation. As such, the goal of this article is to provide an introduction to contrast training. It will be defined, variables will be explored, and examples of contrast training will be provided.

This article originally appeared in Personal Training Quarterly (PTQ)—a quarterly publication for NSCA Members designed specifically for the personal trainer. Discover easy-to-read, research-based articles that take your training knowledge further with Nutrition, Programming, and Personal Business Development columns in each quarterly, electronic issue. Read more articles from PTQ »

Related Reading

Acute Effect on Power Output of Alternating an Agonist and Antagonist Muscle Exercise during Complex Training

Influence of Postactivation Potentiation on Sprinting Performance in Professional Rugby Players

Postactivation Potentiation Effects after Heavy Resistance Exercise on Running Speed

Postactivation Potentiation Response in Athletic and Recreationally Trained Individuals

Complex Training Revisited: A Review of its Current Status as a Viable Training Approach

A Review of Combined Weight Training and Plyometric Training Modes: Complex Training

Evaluation of Plyometric Exercise Training, Weight Training, and Their Combination on Vertical Jumping Performance and Leg Strength

Effect of a Submaximal Half-Squats Warm-Up Program on Vertical Jumping Ability

Kinematic Analysis of the Powerlifting Style Squat and the Conventional Deadlift During Competition: Is There a Cross-Over Effect Between Lifts?

The Effect of Resisted Sprint Training on Speed and Strength Performance in Male Rugby Players

The Application of Postactivation Potentiation Methods to Improve Sprint Speed

A Biomechanical Analysis of the Acute Effects of Complex Training Using Lower Limb Exercises

Effects of Preload 4 Repetition Maximum on 100-M Sprint Times in Collegiate Women

The Effects of Potentiating Stimuli Intensity under Varying Rest Periods on Vertical Jump Performance and Power

The Effects of Exercise Selection and Rest Interval on Postactivation Potentiation of Vertical Jump Performance

Influence of Type of Muscle Contraction, Gender, and Lifting Experience on Postactivation Potentiation Performance

Effects of Complex Training on Explosive Strength in Adolescent Male Basketball Players

Acute Effects of Heavy Preloading on Vertical and Horizontal Jump Performance

The Temporal Profile of Postactivation Potentiation is Related to Strength Level

The Effect of Sprinting After Each Set of Heavy Resistance Training on the Running Speed and Jumping Performance of Young Basketball Players

Meta-Analysis of Postactivation Potentiation and Power: Effects of Conditioning Activity, Volume, Gender, Rest Periods, and Training Status



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