What is contrast training?
Contrast training is performing a strength focused exercise immediately followed by an explosive bodyweight exercise that mimics the movement pattern of the strength exercise. Check out this video to understand what I mean…
Contrast training has been a very popular training tool for MMA fighters and boxers to increase their power output. Many of the skills in volleyball are very fast twitch explosive movements, much like throwing a punch or a kick. This is why contrast training is also an effective training tool for volleyball players to increase their vertical or to add some extra pace behind their attack.
What is the science behind contrast training?
When performing a strength focused exercise your body needs to recruit the necessary number of muscle fibers in order to move the weight from point “A” to point “B”. If the load is greater, your body needs to recruit more muscle fibers. After performing a strength focused exercise your muscle fibers are really charged up and are easily excited. This phsyiological effect is called Post Activation Potential. This increased activation potential makes you feel more powerful when performing the explosive body weight exercise. This happens because your body is more efficiently able to activate your fast twitch muscle fibers after performing a strength exercise first (without taking the strength exercise to fatigue***).
You will find that after performing contrast training for a few weeks you will increase your power output that relates to the specific movement. For example in the video below one of my volleyball athletes wants to improve their vertical. The Trap Bar Deadlift very much mimics the loaded posture of a jump and also focuses on our major muscle groups that are required to jump powerfully (glutes, hamstrings, quads, etc..).
I had this athlete perform 5 Trap Bar Deadlifts with a weight that he could perform 7 times (you will leave a couple reps in the tank). Immediately following the deadlifts he performed 3 explosive box jumps.
Contrast training is not for everyone. If you are new to training or have any major mobility restrictions, this type of training is not for you. However, if you are a healthy athlete looking to add some inches to your jump or some pace behind your arm-swing adding this type of training a couple days a week can make a major difference.
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