**reposted from T-Mag forum**

Variable load sets

How to gain size, strength and speed all at once

By Christian Thibaudeau



Today I'm going to present to you a relatively simple training technique along with two of its variants. It's a method that?'s very effective because it can target several different muscular and neuromuscular capacities at the same time. The method comes from the work of Gilles Cometti, a French sport scientist. Now, before you go out screaming how there's no strong Frenchmen and stop listening to me, I must say that the method has been proven effective in several athletes. And if you can get past the Frenchman barrier, it will be very effective for you too!


The method is an adaptation of what's known as contrast training which refers to alternating between a slow set and a high speed set. The new method is called Insider Contrast. Simply because you do not alternate between slow and fast sets, but between slow and fast reps. Read on, it's not as crazy as you think!


Some logic


We know that slow and fast training can have drastically different training effects. And we also know that light and heavy loads promote different adaptations. Fast training has a more important neuromotor component than slow training and heavy training increases strength more so than light training. In the old school method an athlete/bodybuilder would alternate periods of various types of training to develop his power, size and strength. Well, by combining explosive reps with heavy, slow reps and light slow reps you can get it all in one time!


Furthermore, we also know that fast and slow exercises can lead to the recruitment of different muscles. An article by Dr.Tim Ziegenfuss (Short Topics no.2, T-mag issue 228) demonstrated how a fast curl increases biceps activation twice as much as the brachialis, while a slow rep will have the opposite activation pattern.


The Big Kahuna of insider contrast training


This is my favourite variation of the IC method and it can develop power, strength and size all at the same time. Basically you do 2 reps with 85-90% of your max, followed by 3 explosive reps at 60% and by slow reps to failure with the same 60%.


An example could be:







Bench press (max 400lbs)

Rep 1: 360lbs, maximum effort rep

Rep 2: 360lbs, maximum effort rep

Quickly unload the bar to 240lbs (or have a partner do it)

Rep 3: 240lbs, dynamic effort rep

Rep 4: 240lbs, dynamic effort rep

Rep 5: 240lbs, dynamic effort rep

Reps 6 to failure: 240lbs, slow tempo (313) reps


This method is very effective for individuals wanting to add size, strength and power at the same time. With this method 3-5 sets per exercise should be used.



The painful extended variation


This variation of the IC method is truly an example of masochism! It is a great shock method to stimulate your body out of a plateau, but it should only used infrequently because it's so hard on the body.


The progression is: 2 reps at 85-90%, 3 explosive reps at 60%, slow reps to failure at 60%, 3 explosive reps at 30%, slow reps to failure at 30%, static hold (sticking point) with 30%.


A set could look like this:


Bench press (max 400lbs)

Rep 1: 360lbs, maximum effort rep

Rep 2: 360lbs, maximum effort rep

Quickly unload the bar to 240lbs (or have a partner do it)

Rep 3: 240lbs, dynamic effort rep

Rep 4: 240lbs, dynamic effort rep

Rep 5: 240lbs, dynamic effort rep

Reps 6-12: 240lbs, slow tempo (313) reps to failure

Quickly unload the bar to 120lbs (or have a partner do it)

Rep 13: 120lbs, dynamic effort rep

Rep 14: 120lbs, dynamic effort rep

Rep 15: 120lbs, dynamic effort rep

Reps 16-20: 120lbs, slow tempo (313) reps to failure

Rep 21: 120lbs static hold at the sticking point


(Obviously the number of reps can change depending on where you reach failure).


This is a very intense method, one that should be used with care. Only 1-2 such sets are performed per exercise. The advantage of this method compared to the regular variation is that it will develop a little more muscle mass and more strength-endurance and power-endurance.


The lazy man's insider contrast training


This variation is less painful but can still provide for a very powerful growth stimulus. I recommend this method as an introduction to insider contrast training as it?s easier to handle at first. You will still be able to develop good strength, size and power with this method.


A typical set will look like this: 2 reps at 80%, 2 explosive reps at 50%, 2 reps at 80% and 2 explosive reps at 50%.


A set could look like this:


Bench press (max 400lbs)

Rep 1: 320lbs, moderate tempo (301)

Rep 2: 320lbs, moderate tempo (301)

Quickly unload the bar to 200lbs (or have a partner do it)

Rep 3: 200lbs, dynamic effort rep

Rep 4: 200lbs, dynamic effort rep

Quickly load the bar to 320lbs (or have a partner do it)

Rep 5: 320lbs, moderate tempo (301)

Rep 6: 320lbs, moderate tempo (301)

Quickly unload the bar to 200lbs (or have a partner do it)

Rep 7: 200lbs, dynamic effort rep

Rep 8: 200lbs, dynamic effort rep


This form of IC training can be used for 3-5 sets easily. It is a great introduction to IC training and can provide for a very pleasing workout. For peoples simply interested in gaining a bit more strength, size and power this is certainly the best choice.


Can I periodize the approach?


Yes! A very good training cycle would look like this:


Week 1: The lazy man's insider contrast training (moderate difficulty) for 4 sets of 4 exercises per session.


Week 2: The Big Kahuna of insider contrast training (high difficulty) for 3 sets of 4 exercises per session.


Week 3: The painful extended variation (very high difficulty) for 2 sets of 3 exercises per session.


Week 4: Regular training/no insider contrast (low difficulty) for 2 sets of 10 reps for 4 exercises per session.


This is a typical progressive loading/unloading approach that has stood the test of time. It also provides for a great training variety and lots of pain!


I like to use an antagonist split for this method:


Day 1: Quads/Hamstrings and Biceps triceps

Day 2: Off

Day 3: Abs/Lower back

Day 4: Chest/Upper back

Day 5: Off

Day 6: Anterior & medial deltoid/Posterior deltoid

Day 7: Off


Obviously you can use a different split just as effectively.


Conclusion


This is yet one more weapon to add to your arsenal. A very hard, but powerful method which will bring you a lot of gains not only in muscle size, but also in physical capacities. Certainly a good option for somebody who wants it all!