In season training is a delicate balancing act. On one hand you need to do things off the bike to keep your base fitness levels high but you run the risk of ruining your on-bike performance if you do too much.
Remember that training in not about finding out how much you can survive, it is about doing as little as you can to see the best results so you have more energy to put into your riding.
This means that we need to use training methods that give us the biggest bang-for-the-buck so we don’t waste energy that we could be putting into riding.
And this is where Contrast Training – also known as Complex Training – comes in.
Contrast Training refers to alternating the speed of a movement during the workout. You typically start with a heavier “strength” exercise and then move to a light “power” exercise, alternating back and forth for 2-4 sets.
This power of this method comes from the contrasting speeds in the same movement pattern. For example, doing a set of 3-5 deadlifts followed by a set of 10-15 explosive swings would be a good example of this method in action.
By activating the high threshold motor units with a heavy exercise your potentiate them to active better during the power exercise, which then sets them up for better activation when you come back to the strength exercise. This means that each set builds on each other to result in a higher level of power while also maintaining strength levels.
This is by far one of the most efficient training methods I have come across and I use it for both in- and off season training, the big difference being how many sets and what exercises I’ll choose. In season I like to stick with 2-3 sets and use single limb exercises that limit the overall load you can use, which puts less wear and tear on the body.
I also like to run a more traditional Power Training Phase before a Contrast Training Phase. In a more traditional Power Phase I’ll focus on an upper body and lower body power exercise each workout while with the Contrast Training Phase I’ll focus on either the upper body or lower body in a workout.
Here is an example of how I would use this in a workout…
Power Training Phase
Swings 3 X 15
Explosive Push Ups 3 X 6-8
Jump Squats 3 X 6-8
Push Press 3 X 6-8
Contrast Training Phase
Deadlift 3 X 3-5
Swings 3 X 10
Floor Press 3 X 3-5
Explosive Push Ups 3 X 6
I’d also have a secondary circuit of 3-4 exercises I’d go through twice at the end of the main circuit to fill in some gaps but this would be the main part of my workouts. Remember that training in not about finding out how much you can survive, it is about doing as little as you can to see the best results so you have more energy to put into your riding.
And this approach to in season power training does just that.
Hope you’ve enjoyed this tip, I think it is something every rider should use in their program from time to time. If you have any questions about Contrast Training post them below and I’ll get to them ASAP.
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Until next time…
MTB Strength Training Systems