Contrast, Complex and French Contrast

As I searched the forums several topics and answers came up from this sub forum.

I’m about to start training with a vbt device which allows me to track information on a much deeper level. Seeing as I’m about to start moving into contrast and later on French contrast training I have a few questions regarding this.

I recently read that speed strength, which is part of the French contrast method set up, could be tracked by looking at m/s rather than using percentages. I believe it was stated that anything above 2m/s should be aimed for. Now my question is if this is applicable for the rest of the method sets as well and if so what power output, m/s and acceleration etc one should aim for in the respective sets.


Yes, but I don’t know where you got your 2.0m/s. You won’t reach that with any lifting exercises, even loaded jumps aren’t likely to be that fast. In fact, in decent athletes the average velocity of a vertical jump is around 1.5 - 1.7m/s (peak velocity will be higher but we typically use average velocity, or the speed from the start to the finish of the movement).

The normally accepted speed zones in VBT are:

Starting Strength: 1.3m/s or faster

Speed-Strength: 1.0 to 1.3m/s

Strength-Speed: 0.75 to 1.0m/s

Accelerative strength: 0.5 à 0.75m/s

Anything slower than 0.5m/s has no direct impact on power output.


I greatly appreaciate the feedback Christian! I have some follow up questions on the same subject I hope youll find interest in answering as well. Alternatively If youre interested I would be interested getting some private help - online that is.

Regarding the 2.0m/s I picked that up from this vid How To Build Speed Strength for Athletes - YouTube
He’s talking specifically about the power snatch though. not sure that makes a difference.

It does make a huge difference. The power snatch from the hang is likely the only lifting exercise in which you can reach 2.0m/s with any kind of load. Even with a power clean you’ll likely only reach 1.4 - 1.5m/s. And in “strength lifts” , the most speed you can reach (average, not peak velocity) is likely going to be around 1.0m/s, maybe 1.2m/s but that would require using something like 30% of 1RM.


Interesting article that puts VBT into context with the history of its development.

@Christian_Thibaudeau Could a plyometric depth jump, rebound phase, possibly be the way to hit 2.0m/s ?
Although I presume this is a highly intense and specialised part of VBT and only for specific athletic sports.

It’s more a matter of what component of speed/power you want to develop. You have the reactive component (the part played by reflexes), the elastic component (capacity of the muscle and tendons to absorb potential energy then use it to produce kinetic energy) and muscular component.

Here is a graph from one of my seminars that classify these methods based on it’s dominance. Sadly, it’s in french but most are easy to understand, I’ll provide a translation for some of the terms.

Translated terms

Haltérophilie = Variations of the olympic lifts
Sauts avec charge = Loaded jumps
Saut sur surface molle = Jumps on a soft surface (grass, mat)

Jumps with reset = jump, land, reset, jump again
Jump in series = jump back as soon as you land

Difference between drop jumps and depth jumps:

Drop jumps = Floor is hot lava! Rebound up as soon as you touch the floor.
Depth jumps = For maximum power! Jump as high as possible upon landing, even if that means spending more time on the floor

Contrast jumps = Overloading the eccentric (dip) phase of a jump. This is done by using a trap bar (which you hold during the dip and release just prior to jumping)

Overspeed jumps = Using resistance bands looped around your shoulders like a backpack and attached to dumbbells on the floor to pulls you down with more acceleration from the “in air” position acting like a depth jump.

The key to maximizing power and speed is to focus on methods that target your weakness. You should still train all 3 components but put more emphasis on your weakest one.


@Christian_Thibaudeau Great answer. You have managed to synthesise/summarise any development goal (eg Elastic component) with the appropriate activity.
The history of VBT development shows coaches coming from different directions to develop approaches specific to their own event, eg for athletes, for weighlifters etc. Hard to spot the wood for the trees in terms of identifying activities relevant for me.

I have always struggled to decide which type of plyos might be relevant for my own training, this is a great help. Just pasted it in my training diary, only done that once before.

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Thanks for sharing!
I tried “accommodating resistance” the other day, I loved it, but didn’t know it was invented by J. J. Perrine

Perrine invented the isokinetic machine. Which is a device that is pretty much limited to laboratory settings and rehab clinics. I’m not aware of gyms who do carry this type of equipment. It is NOT what we typically refer to when talking about accommodating resistance (although it IS a form of accommodating resistance).

Essentially that machine is set at a certain velocity and the load will be lifted/lowered at that pre-programmed speed regardless of the amount of effort provided by the individual. So if you are pushing hard, the machine will provide more resistance and if you are not pushing hard it will reduce the resistance.

The main benefit is that during the range of motion there are zones where you are stronger and weaker. The machine will thus adjust the amount of resistance to oppose the amount of force you can produce at each point in the range of motion.

Vey useful for rehab pruposes.

When we (strength coaches) talk about accommodating resistance we more often refer to adding chains or bands to the loaded bar, to increase the resistance in the top half of the movement, where you are stronger.


Late to my own party it seems…

I have but a few questions I hope youll be fit to answer as I’ve not been able to figure them out myself.

Frist and foremost - Using the vbt encoder allows me to get live feedback from the various velocity zones. I’ve been experimenting with a non fixed rep and set scheme but rather continuing both until I’m unable to stay within the zone at which time I’ll terminate the set.
Do you see any issues with this approach ?

Q2: Would overhead medball slams be considered a plyometric or speed strength exercise ?

Q3: I use a Vertical push/pull, Horizontal push/pull, Quad dominant and posterior chain dominant set up but I’m having some difficulty approaching the vertical pull part.
The strength part is any variation of a pull up so thats covered but the strength speed part, the speed strength and the plyometrics I’m having a hard time finding suitible exercises for.
Any help you could provide here would be valuable

Lastly - Q4: The encoder calculates fatigue as well during sets which shows up as a number on the screen. I know you can use this as a way to gauge weather or not to keep going or discontinue the set but I’m completely lost as to what percentage of fatigue should be the line of termination etc. Is this something you think would be a valuble tool and if so do can you share ?


If your goal is power/speed, that is perfectly fine and probably one of the best ways to do it. f strength and hypertrophy were your main goal, it would likely not be super effective.

Depends on how you do them.

If you bring the ball overhead with a straight arm action as fast as possible and aggressively switch to throwing it down as soon as you reach the top and use the stretch reflex to speed the ball down, it’s somewhat plyometric. Or if someone throw you the ball, you catch it directly overhead and then throw it down, it is also plyometric.

But most normal medicine ball slams are a speed-strength movement.

I personally think that it sucks as an exercise though.

Could be something like this.

Typically, vertical pulls are not well suited for speed-strength or plyo exercises. For chin-ups, unless you are monstrously stong, you won’t be able to reach a fast enough speed. And if ou use lat pulldowns and pull fast, the weight plates will just go up with tons of momentum, the cable becomes slack and there is no resistance (not to mention that it can damage the machine).

But here’s one thing to consider: not every single movement pattern needs (or should) to be trained explosively.

That’s the bad thing with finding a new toy (encoder in your case): trying to do everything with it.

If you are deadset on using an explosive movement for the muscles involved in the vertical pull, you can use a medicine ball throw forward from an overhead position (imagine a soccer/football throw over your head to get the ball in play).

It’s not technically a pull, but it involves the same muscles. And I prefer it over the medicine ball slam where gravity helps you too much.

Can it be valuable? Yes.

Do I recommend using it? No.

I just think that’s being too anal and will lead you to lose your internal focus. Personally, even when training for speed, I don’t always use the encoder as I find that it turns the training into some sort of lab experiment and takes away instincts. For ME it throw me out of my game.

I’m not against it, quite the contrary, but I try to use it as something that supplement and assess training rather than being the main element in the session.

But if you are deadset about using it. We typically see a 6% drop-off for strength work and 3% for explosive work

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Thank you for the answers Christian. I really do appreciate it very much. The magnitude of information on sports training is staggering and quite daunting to say the least so having the option to quick fire questions like ths in your direction is gold.

Last question - do you work with online clients ?

No one-on-one anymore. Just don’t have the time. But my staff is still taking clients.

I’m sorry to hear that - if your schedule clears up let me know.

As a side note, Tom Shepherd (one of CTs staff) is very good. He’s extremely knowledgeable about CTs methods and he genuinely cares about who he’s working with. I highly recommend him!