Updated: Jul 26
Every athlete desires to have the ability to make the game changing play. Whether it’s breaking tackles, gravity defying slam dunks, or blazing times in track and field events; game changing abilities usually involve a display of superior athletic ability.
French Contrast Method (FCM) is great way of developing this highly desired performance capability. Originally developed by the French track and field coach, Gilles Cometti, this advanced training protocol has become extremely popular with strength and conditioning coaches of all sports over the past 5 years. Cal Dietz, a world renowned Strength and Conditioning coach and author, can be given credit for the initial push of FMC in to the spotlight, when he covered many of the protocols in his 2012 publication, Triphasic.
Complex Vs. Contrast
Complex training is a combination of resistance exercises followed by a matched plyometric exercise while contrast training is a set of heavy resistance repetitions followed immediately by an unloaded, explosive exercise utilizing the same movement pattern (Dietz and Peterson, 2012). Both of these training methods aim to increase the likelihood of Post Activation Potentiation (PAP) which is an increase in muscle force and rate of force development (RFD) that occurs as a result of previous activation of the muscle.
The primary benefit of the FCM as mentioned by Dietz and Peterson is the ability for athletes to uniquely train across the entire force- velocity curve. This is essential for both acute and long-term athletic development as it increases improvement in both strength and max velocity capability. Over time there may be a chronic adaptation in increased rate of force development (RFD) which is extremely beneficial to sporting actions with limited time available to produce maximal force (i.e. football, basketball, track, etc.)
French Contrasts consists of 4 exercises performed one after another. These include:
Heavy compound (Maximal Strength/Strength Speed)
A plyometric jump (Speed)
A drop set or weighted jump (Speed Strength)
Plyometric or accelerated (band assisted) plyometric (Speed)
“The key difference between the French contrast method and complex and contrast training is its utilization of a number of methods for explosive development of the athlete.
The French contrast method, using a four-exercise protocol, pushes the physiological response of the athlete further, forcing the utilisation of alactic and anaerobic work capacity to increase.
Simply put, the French contrast method makes the athlete powerful for longer periods of time, stimulating greater adaptation within the parameter”
Triphasic Training- Cal Dietz and Ben Peterson
So, What Does a Typical French Contrast Protocol Look Like?
Since becoming more popular, there have been many different variations of complex and contrast training protocols. The most common is pairing heavy compound movements with plyometric exercises. A true French Contrast Protocol looks something like this:
A1) Back Squat 4 x 3 @85% 1RM
A2) Hurdle Hops 4×1 (1 rep is a series of 4-5 hurdles) Increase the height slightly if desired.
A3) Squat Jump 4×3 @30-40% 1RM
A4) Accelerated Band Squat Jumps 4x5 (continuous jumps)
Each exercise is to be performed in succession with approximately 15 to 20 seconds rest between each movement and 3 minutes between sets.
This is just one example of a French Contrast protocol that we have used at Elite Performance Training Systems. When implemented correctly, FCM can yield tremendous results in upper body and lower body power output. If you would like to lean more about specific applications of this protocol and how it can help you become a faster, stronger and more explosive athlete, contact us today!