Contrast Set Training: Weight Training For Size

Contrast Set Training

How You Lift the Weight is Just as Important

The basic rules of most strength and size training programs involve moving weights at a minimum of about 70% of max effort using a lower rep range and a relatively high volume. For some reason, a lot of these programs leave out how important it is how we perform these repetitions. Let’s talk about the tried and true method of contrast set training.

Our muscles are made up of various types of fibers – slow-twitch fibers, intermediate-twitch fibers and fast-twitch fibers, the latter of which predominately enable us to lift heavy objects. When you are doing high weight / low rep sets, these are the fibers that we are tapping into. To maximize your training time, you want to use the fast-twitch fibers for all that they can handle and then some. This is how muscle develops, and for some of us, this is the ultimate goal.

Falling into the habit of lifting 70% of your 1RM can become a trap. Use our one rep max calculator to figure out what 70% of your max is. You want to mix things up a bit. Especially when doing any pushing exercise, you want the weight to move away from the floor as fast as humanly possible, This is the same for light weight and heavy weight. You want to focus in on forcing that weight to move quickly as you push. The same can be said for pulling exercises, but this method is more beneficial to pushing exercises. You want to use as much force as possible to push that weight.

Contrast Set Training

Now that we know more about exploiting fast-twitch muscle fibers, it is time to introduce contrast set training. Our goal is to trick our fast-twitch muscle fibers into doing more work than they normally would by contrasting your sets. This just means that we will be performing an explosive movement that is as similar as possible to the weighted movement we just completed.

CrossFit incorporates a form of contrast set training with some pretty amazing results and this is the hot craze right now in fitness.

Contrast Set Training: The Workout

Day 1 – Vertical Push / Pull
A1) BB Squat – 6-8 reps ALTERNATE CHOICE: A1) BB Deadlift – 6-8 reps
A2) Squat Jumps – 6-8reps A2) Vertical Jumps – 6-8 reps
Perform 4 Rounds
B1) Weighted Pull Ups – 8 reps
B2) Medicine Ball Slams – 10 reps
Perform 4 rounds
C1) Standing Press – 6-8 reps
C2) Medicine Ball Overhead Throws (kneel if your gym has lower ceilings) – 8 reps
Perform 4 rounds

Day 2 – Horizontal Push/Pull
A1) Bench Press – 6-8 reps (read about how to increase your bench press)
A2) Plyometric Push Ups – 6-8 reps
Perform 4 Rounds
B1) Rear Leg Elevated Split Squat – 6-8 reps/leg
B2) Split Jump Squats – 6-8 jumps (after EACH leg. Be sure to rest for 30 seconds before starting the 2nd leg.)
Perform 4 rounds
C1) Seated Rows – 12 reps
C2) Eccentric Glute Ham Raise – 6 reps
C3) Standing Broad Jumps – 6 Jumps

Repeating this system twice each week (per workout) leaves room for an optional isolation-specific workout to focus on supplementary muscle groups that assist major lifts:

Choose any or all of the following and perform 4×12:
– EZ Bar French Press
– Close Grip Bench Press
– Barbell Biceps Curls
– Bodyweight Chin-ups (palms in)
– Ab Wheel Rollouts
– Hanging Leg Raises

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