Contrast Training is normally used for training strength and power.
In which you do a heavy strength based movement followed by a ballistic or explosive exercise of a similar movement pattern.
Barbell back squat
Medicine Ball Chest throw
The benefit of contrast training is that it causes post activation potentiation. Allowing the nervous system to produce more force on the second exercise. Some of the mechanisms believed to be involve in PAP are
- Increased motor unit recruitment
- Decreased pre synaptic inhibition
- Enhanced motor unit synchronisation
- Greater input to the motor neuron
Basically the strength movement allows more muscle fibres to be recruited, makes the muscle groups fire together more efficiently and reduces inhibition that would normally reduce power output on the explosive exercise.
With this modified contrast training we are using the same concepts but targeting them specifically for the back squat rather than an explosive or ballistic movement.
In the video below you can see Nick completes
110kg reverse band squat, heels elevated, 3 reps
rests for 20-30 seconds then
80kg standard back squat, feet flat, 5 reps with a lighter weight.
With this combo the reverse bands attached to the bar provide accomodating resistance. That is they help you by reducing the load as you go lower into the squat. But at the top they don't help at all so you are still lifting the full weight at the top of each rep. Basically the bands help you where your weakest and don't where you're strongest.
By having the weight get heavier during the concentric portion of each rep you are teaching the nervous system to continually accelerate the load. Because if he doesn't it won't be coming up at all!
The 110kg on the reverse band squat is about 10 to 15kg more than he could normally do.
This creates the post activation potentiation we talked about earlier but even more so because of the bands and supra maximal weight used.
He has 20-30 sec rest then goes into normal squats for 5 reps at 80kg's
The 80kg's for 5 reps now feels 'light' and even though its close to his 5RM and he is not fully recovered he gets them.
The reason for having the heels elevated on the banded squats and heels flat on the normal squats is because it uses a slightly different motor pattern which means it will activate slightly different pools of motor units further increasing results.
We did this for 4 sets with four to five minutes rest in between each one. You want close to full recovery between each set so make sure you rest long enough.
A modified contrast set up like this also works well for other extensor chain exercises like bench press and deadlifts.
A four to six week cycle of this can give you an 8 to 12kg increase in your squat.