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Use the French Contrast Method to Build Explosive Power

Learn what it is and how to implement it into your training.

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  • 60 min.

  • 16

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Barbell Bench Press
Edgar Artiga / M+F Magazine
Barbell Bench Press
Edgar Artiga / M+F Magazine

If you want to lift more explosively, then your training better reflect your goals. “A lot of strength programs in America are built around slow, controlled reps,” says Chris Gray, the senior performance specialist at Ignition APG in Mason, OH. “But to be explosive, you must train explosively, and French Contrast is great for this.” Popularized by strength coach Cal Dietz, the French Contrast Method is used by strength coaches around the world as a way to bolster an athlete’s power output. Below, we outline everything you need to know about this method and how you can implement it in your own training.

WHAT IT IS

The French Contrast Method pairs a heavy compound movement, like a back squat, with a plyometric exercise, like a squat jump. The result is the ability to harness more explosive power.

HOW IT WORKS

Heavy lifts recruit more motor units in a muscle. You can parlay this into a temporary boost in your power output for the plyo move. This practice, over time, leads to a net increase in your power.

WHEN TO DO IT

The French Contrast Method should be performed for a short three- to four-week block before going back to a more traditional strength program.

DIRECTIONS

Perform exercises marked “A” and “B” as a superset, doing a set of one and then a set of the next with no rest between. Rest 60 seconds after each superset.

Routine

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Lower Body Split

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 16

Barbell Squat

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
2
Rest
--
80% 1RM
Exercise 3 of 16

Barbell Split Squat

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
3
Reps
2
Rest
--
50% 1RM
Exercise 4 of 16

Alternating Jump Lunge

Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
3*
Rest
60 sec
*Per side.
Exercise 5 of 16

Romanian Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
2
Rest
--
80% 1RM
Exercise 7 of 16

Dumbbell Side Lunge

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
5*
Rest
--
*Per side.
Exercise 8 of 16

Lateral Broad Jump

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
2
Rest
60 sec

Upper Body Split

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 9 of 16

Barbell Bench Press

Equipment
Barbell, Bench
Sets
3
Reps
2
Rest
--
80% 1RM
Exercise 11 of 16

Lat Pulldown

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Lat Pulldown Bar
Sets
3
Reps
5
Rest
--
Use heavy weights.
Exercise 12 of 16

General Pullup

Equipment
Pullup Bar
Sets
3
Reps
2
Rest
60 sec
Exercise 13 of 16

Barbell Overhead Press

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
2
Rest
--
50% 1RM
Exercise 14 of 16

Medicine Ball Slam

Equipment
Medicine Ball
Sets
3
Reps
3
Rest
60 sec
Exercise 15 of 16

Barbell Upright Row

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
5
Rest
--
70% 1RM
Exercise 16 of 16

Inverted Row

Equipment
Barbell, Squat Rack
Sets
3
Reps
5
Rest
60 sec
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