Contrast loading - A simple way to better workouts

Much is made of contrast/complex methods such as typical potentiation methods I've covered before in articles such as complex training and the psycho factor series, but not much is made of how to create a potentiation effect using intra-exercise contrasts, reverse pyramids, and tempo variations. 

The basic tenet of all stimulation/potentiation methods is a given load will feel lighter (and the body will perform as if it is lighter) if you first lift a heavier load and follow that up with a lighter load movement. This is the entire basis of complex training, various forms of potentiation training, french contrast, and other similar methods (all of them). 

Regardless of the goal, you are able to reap the benefits of increased rate coding and neural drive which (ideally) allows more speed, more power, more strength, and more hypertrophy stimulation to occur. 

However, one not need use more than one exercise to reap the benefits of this training principle, and the principle can be applied to any movement or exercise.

Consider a workout of jump squats. Most people would do something like 5 sets of 8 reps with somewhere around 15-20% of their squat max. But you can create a superior training effect using a reverse pyramid going up in weight then back down like this:

5 x 8 @ 15, 20, 25, 20, 15% of max.  The last sets will be faster and more explosive than they would if done in straight weight fashion. This makes the workout a bit more efficient for vertical jump or explosive power seeking purposes.  

Strength-Speed Example

For speed squats, instead of doing something like 6 sets of 2 @ 60% of 1 rep max, you can use the same reverse pyramid principle:

6 x 2 @ 60, 65, 70, 65, 60, 55%  

Here are a few more examples of how to use intra-exercise variations in load and tempo to create a better training effect for various goals: 

Speed-strength example

Traditional example: depth jump: 6 x 3 from 18 inch box

contrast example: depth jump: 6 x 3 from 12, 18, 24, 30, 24, 18 inch box

Bodybuilding example

Squat: 1 x 5 (building up to heavy set of 5) followed by 1 set of 15-20 (you will be able to lift more weight for higher reps if you first precede it by building up to a heavy set)

Powerlifting example:

Squat walkout x 110% of max followed by squat single x 100% of max. 

Get creative and you'll find the same principle can be applied to any other exercise or movement of your choice.  

Very simple, but very effective. 

Give some of these a shot and check out my Vertical Jump Bible 2.0 for plenty of other examples of training concepts (and workouts incorporating them) you can utilize in your training.