GLUTE HAM RAISE + FRENCH CONTRAST TRAINING

Posted by J. Fallhowe, CSCS

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Jan 25, 2016 11:30:00 AM

The French Contrast Training (FCM) method is a relatively new form of training that's creating a lot of buzz! Gilles Cometti is a French sports scientist who developed the FCM. The FCM combines two common and effective training methods - complex and contrast training - to improve the rate at which an athlete produces force. Let's dive into the FCM to see what sets it apart.

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COMPLEX VS. CONTRAST TRAINING:

Complex Training: Complex training involves doing a heavy compound exercise followed by a plyometric movement with a similar movement pattern. An example would be performing a Back Squat at 90% of one rep max (1RM) followed by jump squats. For more on Complex Training, check out Explosive Leg Workouts Part Duex.

Contrast Training: Contrast training involves loading with 80%-95%+ of your 1RM followed by "drop-sets" where reps are performed at relatively lighter loads. 

Both of these methods take advantage of what's called Post Activation Potential (PAP). Essentially, PAP is the process of priming the nervous system and muscles to create powerful and rapid contractions with heavy loads. Power production is then maximized through subsequent, sub-maximal exercises with similar movement patterns. We discuss PAP in more detail in The Single Best Hamstring Exercise on Testosterone Nation.

The FCM differs from both of these methods in that it combines all four training protocols!

 

LEG TRAINING EXAMPLE WITH FCM:

EXERCISE SETS REPS LOAD
Back Squat 3 1-3 80%-90% 1RM
Squat Jumps 3 3-5 Reactive/Body weight
Weighted Squat Jumps 3 3-5 30% 1RM
Accelerated Plyometrics 3 3-5 Reactive/Assisted

 

Let's call all exercises listed and completed a "round." With the FCM, there is no rest between sets; you'll progress from one exercise to the next until the round (or all four exercises, in this case) is completed. You will rest for 4-5 minutes between each round and repeat the round 3 times.

Don't overlook rest here! We discuss the importance of rest in Explosive Leg Workouts Part Deux.

 

SOMTHING INTERESTING ABOUT THE FCM:

When I first started training, I was guilty of overtraining. I thought the longer and harder the training session, the better. That wasn't the case. I noticed that I was getting injured more. I was incredibly tired, and I wasn't making dramatic improvements in the weight room. As I realized this and began backing off my total work per session (I found that roughly 30,000 - 50,000 joules per session), I began to notice increases in my power and strength.

 

FCM VOLUME & INTENSITY | POWER PRODUCTION DURING FATIGUE:

The FCM has a relatively demanding volume and intensity profile. I will note that the reps are low, which should keep the athlete from overtraining. Interestingly, I'm curious if the third and fourth exercises (remember FCM is the combination of contrast and complex training) of each round will ultimately transfer to increases in power as the athlete becomes more fatigued?

If power production does increase during periods of fatigue, this could greatly impact athletes in sports that require more speed endurance. In theory, they could optimize endurance while keeping peak and average power outputs high.

 

GLUTE HAM RAISE + FRENCH CONTRAST TRAINING:

I've divided each training round (explained below) into three different protocols that you can try. Each training protocol is designed for different training sessions (i.e., don't perform each protocol in one training session!).

Protocol #1:

EXERCISE SETS REPS LOAD
Weighted Glute Ham Raise 3 1-3 80%-90% 1RM
Altitude Drop Glute Ham Raise 3 3-5 Reactive/Bodyweight
Weighted Altitude Drop Glute Ham Raise 3 3-5 30% 1 RM
Accelerated Rebound Glute Ham Raise 3 3-5 Reactive/Assisted

 

Protocol #2:

 

EXERCISE SETS REPS LOAD
Weighted Glute Ham Raise 3 1-3 80%-90% 1RM
Rebound Glute Ham Raise 3 3-5 Reactive/Bodyweight
Weighted Altitude Drop Glute Ham Raise 3 3-5 30% 1RM
Accelerated "GO" Glute Ham Raise 3 3-5 Reactive/Assisted

 

Protocol #3:

EXERCISE SETS REPS LOAD
Weighted Glute Ham Raise 3 1-3 80%-90% 1RM
Rebound Glute Ham Raise 3 3-5 Reactive/Bodyweight
Weighted Altitude Drop Glute Ham Raise 3 3-5 30% 1RM
Accelerated Rebound Glute Ham Raise 3 3-5 Reactive/Assisted

 

VIDEO DEMONSTRATIONS:

We are working on providing new video demonstrations. In the meantime, take a look at The 10 Best Hamstring Exercises. This will provide you with examples of all of the exercises listed above.

The only exercise that does not have a video is the "Accelerated Rebound Glute Ham Raise." We will have a video shortly, but to perform this exercise, simply attach a band to the back of your GHD or SpeedBot GHD, wrap the band around your upper torso, hold the band for support, and complete the Rebound Glute Ham Movement. The same would apply for "GO" Glute Ham Raises if you are performing training Protocol #2.

 

GLUTE HAM RAISES AREN'T A COMPOUND MOVEMENT:

We are aware that the hybrid glute ham raise is not a compound lift. (Compound lifts utilize a multi-joint movement with free weights and usual kicks off an FCM training session) Some might suggest Romanian Dead Lifts (RDLs) as an alternative. However, as a result of greater electromyography (EMG) activity during the concentric phase of the Glute Ham Raise (vs. RDL), we'll stick with weighted Glute Ham Raises for our FCM protocols. Additionally, our protocols are designed to improve explosive concentric movements like sprinting. RDLs and Eccentric Glute Ham Raises may be better during a different phase of our training mesocycle.

 

TEACHING AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS:

Though the glute ham raise movement seems like a relatively limited movement, there are a number of variations you can and should implement to help your athletes improve their speed, power and rate of force development. 

 

RATE OF FORCE PRODUCTION - WHY IT MATTERS: 

If we think about activities like sprinting, whether it's over 40 yards or 100 meters, the rate at which we're able to produce force is very important. Maximal strength is important; however, it is unlikely that the athlete will express all of his or her strength when sprinting. It's been suggested that an athlete will use only 60 to 80 percent of their absolute strength during an all-out sprint (1). 

The FCM is designed to increase an athlete's rate of force production, which would have a massive impact on the field of play. Additionally, as discussed above, it appears that the FCM is designed to help athletes with improving power output during times of fatigue, which would be beneficial for players participating in soccer, basketball, hockey - just to name a few.

 

HAMSTRING TRAINING EBOOK:

If you enjoyed this article, we've got plenty more for you! Please check out our Next Level Hamstring Training eBook. It's the best hamstring training eBook ever written, maybe :)

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Topics: Geek Speak - Improving Performance

  1. Dintiman, G., & Ward. W. (1998). Sport speed (2nd ed) Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

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