The French Contrast has grown in popularity in recent years, mainly due to the work of Cal Dietz of the University of Minnesota. Coach Dietz is known for his Triphasic training principles, and within the triphasic program, he has taken the French Contrast (FC) method and brought it into public awareness.
FC was originally developed by French track & field coach Gilles Cometti, but Dietz took it and molded it into a digestible piece for S&C coaches.
The FC combines complex and contrast training into one method. The idea is to use four exercises to push the physiological responses of the athlete and train all along the force-velocity curve. The original template from Coach Dietz was as follows:
- Compound Exercise = Back Squat or Hex Bar Deadlift
- Plyometric = Hurdle Hops or Depth Jump
- Weighted Jump = Squat Jump (with resistance, e.g., dumbbells, barbell, sandbag, vest)
- Accelerated Plyometric = Assisted Squat Jumps
This template is great for building vertical jump force, but it lacks specificity and transfer for athletes who need to adapt to other movement patterns. Many athletes would benefit from a more specific protocol that emphasizes the physical attributes needed for success in their sport.
Through years of playing around with the FC, I've made modifications in terms of order, rest periods, different names, and specifications for certain types of athletes. Much is still the same, but what I tend to do now is travel straight down the force-velocity curve. I also allow 30-40 seconds between exercises.
So here's what my typical templates looks like. The second one is used if an overspeed/assisted movement cannot be performed.
Before you start, understand that the FC is not for novice athletes—it's for experienced athletes who have quality levels of strength and quality movement patterns. Just because you're a senior in college or a professional athlete doesn't mean you should use an FC. Again, as long as you exhibit quality movement and have solid strength levels, you can program different FC protocols. It comes down to demonstrating movement competency rather than just purely age.
Lateral Protocol. This is great for athletes who need to emphasize lateral strength, power, and speed such as basketball, baseball, and/or softball players.
- Band-Resisted Lateral Lunge — 3-4 x 4-6 ea
- Shuffle Sled Pull — 3-4 x 10-15y
- Heidens — 3-4 x 2-4 ea
- Russian Plyos — 3-4 x 4-6 seconds
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