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Strength & Conditioning Gym Brisbane - Group Fitness Classes & Personal Training - ATHLETIX

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The French Contrast method is a type of strength training that involves a series of exercises designed to improve explosiveness, power, and speed. It combines traditional strength exercises with plyometric movements, which are explosive movements that involve jumping or bounding and are practiced at our group lifting classes.

The method is based on the principle of post-activation potentiation (PAP), which states that a heavy lifting exercise can enhance the performance of a subsequent explosive movement. The French Contrast method consists of four exercises performed in succession, with the goal of maximizing the benefits of PAP.

 

The four exercises in the French Contrast method are:

Heavy strength exercise

 

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This is a compound exercise that involves lifting heavy weights for low reps. Examples include squats, deadlifts, or bench presses. The purpose is maximal motor units recruitment.

Explosive strength exercise

 

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This is a FORCE-ORIENTED plyometric movement that involves explosive exercises like box jumps, depth jumps, or squat jumps. But also elastic resisted rows for instance.

SPEED-STRENGTH exercise

 

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This exercise will target the same muscle groups as the heavy strength exercise but with a focus on moving at high-speed the maximum amount of weight. Examples include lunges, Sled Pushes, step-ups, or dumbbell presses. All concentric focused movements.

Sprint or agility drill

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This is a speed exercise that involves sprinting or performing agility drills like shuttle runs or ladder drills. At Athletix we use the Sprint Track for a powerful 10-20m acceleration. We feel the linear sprint pays more dividends from a Force-Velocity relationship point of view, as the action can be executed with maximal intent.

 

HOW WE IMPLEMENT IT IN OUR STRENGTH CLASSES:

The French Contrast method is performed in a circuit, with each exercise performed for a specific number of sets, reps, rest and recovery.

  1. Load and Reps

When tackling compound lifts, aim for a load hovering around 80% of your one-repetition maximum (1RM), and execute 2-3 reps. It’s crucial to avoid overloading; the objective is to activate the muscles, not exhaust them prematurely. More details on common pitfalls will follow. For force-focused plyometric exercises, prioritize generating maximum power per repetition. Aim for 3-5 reps. For speed-strength movements, adhere to a general rule of approximately 60% of your 1RM, especially with Olympic lift variations. However, note that this percentage may vary depending on the specific exercise. For instance, other ballistic exercises like the barbell jump squat are ideally performed at around 30% of your 1RM. The selected load should feel challenging yet manageable enough to execute explosively. Again, aim for 3-5 reps. When it comes to speed-focused plyometrics, emphasize minimizing ground contact time or swiftly transitioning between concentric and eccentric contractions. Aim for 4-6 reps.

  1. Sets and Timing

Consider all the aforementioned exercises as one comprehensive set. It’s crucial to approach each repetition with full intent and vigor, not while fatigued. Thus, prioritize performing your French Contrast sets immediately after a thorough dynamic warm-up, when you’re still fresh. Avoid exceeding 3-4 sets of any given complex within the same training session. However, you can include two complexes targeting different body parts, such as upper and lower body.

  1. Rest and Frequency

Rest approximately 20-30 seconds between each exercise within the set, but allow 2-5 minutes of rest between sets. The French Contrast Method is known to deplete the lifter’s nervous system resources and induce systemic fatigue.

 

Research has shown that the French Contrast method can improve explosive power and speed, particularly in athletes who participate in sports that require quick, explosive movements like sprinting, jumping, or throwing. However, it is important to note that the French Contrast method is an advanced training approach, that should be used only with intermediate to expert lifters, and only under the supervision of a qualified strength and conditioning coach.

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Athletix is a Fitness and Athletic development centre in the heart of Brisbane (Fortitude Valley) offering Group Classes in Strength, Speed & Agility, Conditioning, Sprint mechanics, Pilates, Mobility and more. Book an Introductory Class Today!

📍 42 BAXTER STREET, FORTITUDE VALLEY, QLD 4006.​

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