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

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

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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 »

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

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Postactivation Potentiation Effects after Heavy Resistance Exercise on Running Speed

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

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Charley Gould is a former professional baseball player and highly sought-after strength and conditioning coach who works with 100+ athletes, includi ...

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