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Contrast Training Advice?

Hey friends,

I’m looking into adding some very basic & simple contrast training into my training to mix things up.
I’ve had a look at a few articles to try get a feel for how it works. So far I have decided that I will cycle it in and out of my training when I need to spice things up.

Just wondering if anyone here can share their experiences with contrast training? What they did? The results? etc etc.

I’m looking to pair an explosive movement with my main strength movements, bench, squat, deadlift and maybe even with front squats and pull-ups.


Post Activation Potentiation Training, PAP

This is an effective method of increasing Power and Limit Strength (1 Repetition Max).

It basically Super Sets a Limit Strength Movement with a Power (or Speed) Movement.

The two main form of PAP are…

  1. Contrast Training: This method uses the same exercise in preforming a Limit Strength and Power Movement, such as the Bench Press. A Heavy Squat is performed, followed by a rest period, then a Power Squat with 48 to 62% of your 1 Repetition Max.

  2. Complex Training; This method uses a Limit Strength Movement that is similar to your Power Movement. As an example, preforming a Heavy Incline Press, resting and then preforming a Power Bench Pres with 48 to 62% of your 1 Repetition Max.

Increasing Power Output

Lifting a heavy load, resting and then lifting a moderately heavy load increase Power Output.

A good article that goes into this is “Complex Training for More Strength and Power”; it can be found online.

Some of the Caveats of Post Activation Potentiation

  1. Heavy Set: It needs to be 80% plus of your 1 Repetition Max for 1 - 2 Reps.

  2. The Heavy Set should not be so heavy that it depletes your strength; which would decrease your Power Output in your Power Set; negating the training effect you are after.

  3. The Power Set needs to be moderately heavy. Power with a traditional movement like the Bench Press, Squat, etc are best developed with load of 48 to 62% of your 1 Repetition Max, for 1 - 3 Reps.

  4. For Speed Training, a lighter load of 10 to 40% of your 1 RM, with around 30% should be used, for 1 - 3 reps.

My Experience

I’ve used Complex Training (PAP) since 1998 for Powerlifting.

I obtain State Powerlifting Record in the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift using Complex Training.

My Bench Press Training

It revolves around performing a Heavy Partial Incline Presses combined with a Moderately Heavy Power Bench Presses.

My Squat and Deadlift are trained the same way.

Kenny Croxdale

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I dont know if its exactly what your looking for but look up brian alsruhe on youtube. He used to be on these forums…but he likes doing stuff like a giant set with an explosive movement, the main movement, and abs. Thats an oversiplification, but he has a lot of info about it. Might help.

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This isn’t Post Activation Potentiation Complex Training.

Kenny Croxdale

Read my first sentence bro. I said i dont know if its what he’s looking for…but regardless he was asking about contrast training and you mentioned your thing which is very similar to what i mentioned. Not trying to start anything here but the op didnt specifically ask about pap, he asked about simple contrast training…and what i mentioned seems to fit the mold…explosive movement + main heavy movement. Brian ads in abs or whatever too, and its tailored to strongman, but i dont see how the information wouldnt help. Im sure yours works fine too but theres more than ome way to skin a cat

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@iron_clad1 @KennyCrox

Ease up buddies.

My goals in training is just to keep healthy, improve athleticism and obviously be jacked.
Hence I’m looking for something simple to apply to my training. Explosive push-ups perhaps paired with the bench, and box jumps with the squat?


Reading Your Post

Yes, I read your first sentence and the rest of your post, as well as looked up Brian Alsruhe on youtube.

The information you provide and in Brain’s video involve Complex Training Exercises…
However, these type of Complexes fall into Hypertrophy Training which isn’t the same as PAP Complex Training. So, it can be a confusing.

The PAP Complex Training Protocol that theBird is interested is a method that increases Power Output, Explosive Power for sports.

Contrast Training

Inadvertently, theBird was asking about PAP, Post Activation Training. Contrast Training, as theBird identified it, “…to pair an explosive movement with my main strength movements”, this is the definition of Post Activation Potentiation Training.

Contrast Training and Complex Training fall into Post Activation Potentiation Training. In my initial post, I noted the differences between Contrast and Complex Training.

Think of it PAP like an Automobile. Cars, trucks, vans, etc fall into the category of automobiles; they are different kinds of automobiles.

Complex Hypertrophy Exercise

They are an effective method for increasing muscle mass. However, are not an effective method for increasing Explosive Power.

Helpful For Training

Preforming multiple Complexes of Exercises is a designated Hypertrophy Training Program, effective for increasing muscle mass.

The initial downside of Hypertrophy Training is a decrease in Strength and Power.

In a well written Linear Periodization Training Program, Hypertrophy Training precedes Strength and Power Training.

Once an increase in muscle mass is obtained via Hypertrophy Training, a Strength Training Program follows to increase Limit Strength (1 Repetition Max) with your new muscle mass.

In a well written Linear Periodization Training Program, Strength Training is followed by a Power and/or Speed Program. Strength is the foundation of Power and Speed.

Thus, your new Limit Strength is then converted to Power and/or Speed.

Conjugate Training

Post Activation Potentiation Training falls into the Conjugate Training Protocol. Two type of Strength are trained at the same time (Limit Strength and Power), providing a synergistic training effect. An increase in Limit Strength increasing Power and Power increasing Limit Strength; Power is the grease that allows you to slide though your sticking point.

Using The Right Tool For The Job

Post Activation Potentiation (Contrast and Complex Training) is the right tool for increasing Limit Strength, Power and/or Speed.

Complex Exercises preformed with multiple exercises is the right tool for increasing muscle mass; larger muscles produce more force (Strength and Power) when followed by a Limit Strength and then a Power and/or Speed Training Block.

PAP Training (Contrast and Complex Training) and Multiple Exercise Complexes each elicit a different training effect; each has its place in training.

You want to use the right tool for the right job; PAP for Strength and Power and Multiple Exercise Complexes for Hypertrophy.

Kenny Croxdale

Good Pairing

Yes, those exercises will work.

As you know, perform the Strength Exercise first. Rest a few minutes and then perform the Power or Speed Movement.

Kenny Croxdale

I thought the rest was meant to be 20-30 seconds.


Going back to Brian: he does advocate giant sets for basically everything but including explosive movements. Usually an explosive movement (seems to be what you’re talking about), main move, antagonist then core. An example could be some sort of throw, bench, row, sit up or box jump, squat, ab wheel roll out.

So to summarise, I think it is something he talks about but in a slightly different context.

Hopefully I haven’t said anything Brian wouldn’t agree with - feel free to correct me if I have.

Rest Periods

Rest Periods can be as short as 20 - 30 seconds or as long as a couple of minutes.

The key is to make the Heavy Strength Movement (80% plus of 1 RM for 1 - 3 Reps) heavy enough to prime the the nervous system for the following Explosive Movement but not make the Heavy Strength Movement so heavy that it dampens it your Power Output.

As your Strength Movement inches up closer to your 1 Repetition Max, let say 90 or 95% of your 1RM, a resting linger between sets ensure greater Power Output in the following Explosive Movement.

A longer rest period also allows greater restoration of ATP (Adinosine Triphophate) which is necessary for Limit Strength, Power and Speed Movements.

Research shows that up to 50% of Muscle ATP is restored after 30 seconds of rest, with up to near 80% of ATP restored in after approximately 45% seconds.

However, the intensity of the movement may require more recovery time. In other word you need to “Auto Regulate”; perform the movement you feel that you have recovered and are ready to perform the Explosive Movement with maximal Power Output.

Kenny Croxdale

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This works very well…

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Giant Sets

This method is primarily geared for Hypertrophy/Bodybuilding rather than increasing Strength or Power.

However, a form of it could be applied to Post Activation Potentiation Training.


  1. Preforming a Heavy Leg Press followed by a rest period then…

  2. Power Squat (48 - 62% of your 1 Repetition Max) followed by a rest period and then

  3. Barbell Jump Squat (10 - 40% of your 1 Repetition Max) followed by a rest period and then repeating sequence 1 - 3 above. This method would incorporate Limit Strength, Power and Speed Training.

Limit Strength developed with a load of 85% of 1 RM.

Power developed, in traditional movements, with a load of 48 - 62% of 1 RM

Speed developed developed, in traditional movements,with a load of 10 - 40% of 1 RM.

The Phosphagen System

Limit Strength, Power and Speed employ ATP, the Phosphagen Energy System.

ATP is depleted in around 10 -15 second of a Strength, Power or Speed Movement; with approximately 50% of ATP depleted in about 3 seconds.

Fast Twitch Type IIa and “Super” Fast Type IIb/x run on ATP. Once ATP is depleted Strength, Power and Speed drop like a rock. The “Super” Fast and Fast Twitch Muscle Fiber are exhausted and not really involved.

At this point, your Slow Twitch Type I Muscle Fiber are called into play," The Size Principle".

That is one of the reason that Limit Strength, Power and Speed Repetition are 1 - 3 per Set, no more than around 5 reps per Set.

Training Limit Strength, Power and Speed employs the same Set and Reps. What separates them is the percentage of 1 RM used: 85% plus for Limit Strength, 48 - 62% for Power and 10 - 40% for Speed.

[quote="caesium32, post:10, topic:257217"Usually an explosive movement (seems to be what you’re talking about), main move, antagonist then core. An example could be some sort of throw, bench, row, sit up or box jump, squat, ab wheel roll out.[/quote]

Throw, Bench, Row, Sit Up or Box Jump, Squat, Ab Wheel…

This sequence falls more into Circuit Training, High Intensity Interval Resistance Training; a Metabolic Training Program.

For Power and or Speed to be developed in a Post Activation Training Program, the Strength and Power and/or Speed Movement need be similar to each other.

Agonist/Antagonist Strength Training

This means training opposing muscle groups in Super Sets: an example is Bent Over Row and Bench Press.

The Antagonist acts as a braking device for Agonist Movements. In doing so, your Antagonist Muscle impairs your Limit Strength and Power in a Agonist Movement.

To increase Limit Strength and Power in Agonist Muscles you can do one of the following…

  1. Perform an Antagonist Exercise first, rest and then perform your Agonist Exercise.

  2. Perform a Static Stretch of your Antagonist Muscle first, rest and then perform your Agonist Exercise.

These two method relax the Antagonist Muscles, allowing your to produce greater force (Strength and Power) in your Agonist Exercise.

Antagonist/Agonist Exercise Example

  1. Bent Over Row, rest and then

  2. Bench Press

Stretching Example

  1. Hanging from a Pull Up Bar for around 30 seconds. A static stretch relaxes the Lats, the Antagonist Muscles of the Bench Press, enabling your to produce more force in the Agonist Muscle of the Bench Press.

Powerlifter inadvertently do this in Benching Pressing. They perform a “Pull Up” on the bar in the rack prior to performing the Bench Press.

After stretching your Lats/Antagonist Muscle, rest and then…

  1. Bench Press

Posting Video

Could you post the video that provides the information on this?

Kenny Croxdale

Looks good.

Although maybe too high intensity for old man Bird.