I’m a big believer in contrast training, also referred to as post-activation potentiation (PAP). When done correctly this can be a great tool for athletes in their preseason phase.
Before we go any further on this topic I do want to note that contrast training is only fully effective when there has been a thorough offseason to develop a foundation of strength and good movement.
Contrast is an advanced protocol of strength training and should be reserved to the athletes who have earned the right to perform these contrast exercises. Performing these protocols I’m about to show you on Day 1 of your time in the gym will give you minimal results at best.
What does contrast training do?
Contrast training is a heavily loaded strength exercise or a moderately loaded power movement followed by a speed/power or ballistic movement performed in the same or similar plane of motion.
The Strength or power movement shouldn’t last more than 3-8 seconds and it shouldn’t be fatiguing. Following that should be a rest period of 10-30 seconds (depending on what you find to be most effective for you) and then go right into your speed or power movement. When performed correctly there should be a significant increase in speed and power during that exercise.
The heavy loading and power movements make it easier to recruit high threshold motor fibers. These muscle fibers produce the most force and allow you to generate max power and velocity.
One thing that’s challenging for athletes who play a rotational sport like baseball is having a strength exercise that is in the same plane of motion as a rotational throw. Although challenging, it is not impossible.
These contrast movements have consistently increased pitchers’ velocity by 2-5 MPH and dramatically improved hitting strength when followed by a thorough offseason strength program.
Top 5 Contrast Exercises for Rotational Athletes
1. Rope Isometric chop into shot put toss
2. Landmine clean to press into toss into shovel toss
3. Safety bar reverse lunge into side shuffle to shot put toss
4. Band resisted skaters into body weight skater
5. Chain loaded Bulgarian split squat into a long toss shot put toss
General Rules of Thumb for Contrast Training
1. You should not feel fatigued during and after your contrast workout.
2. After performing your strength exercise there should be a 10-30 sec rest before your speed or power exercises.
3. Contrast circuit should be 5-8 sets with 2-4 minutes rest between each one.
4. Accessory work afterwards should be core and posterior chain dominate and not heavily loaded.
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