Complex and Contrast- Magic Window or Just Glorified WOD?

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I am glad some discussion on complex and contrast training exists, as it beats talking about making balloon sculptures for breathing training. So the question is what is complex and contrast training doing? Doing exercises back to back must have an effect besides being time efficient right? Back to Gambetta’s Building and Rebuilding the complete athlete, one of the best educational experiences I have had, the exercises were done to push the envelope. Most advanced practices are to break through genetic ceilings when people hit a plateau, or should we give novices advanced training to get better faster? Of course we shouldn’t do such a thing and rush development, but after we do French Contrast Training do move on to Swiss Complex Training and add another exercise? How did we survive with just three blades in the 1990s shaving, we need five!

I have witnessed some ungodly workouts with some athletes, such as Linford Christie training in Florida. Freaky numbers and freaky exercises. Unfortunately 20 years later a guy an inch or so taller is lifting 50% of the loads and running much faster, but we all know that Bolt’s lifting routine is not creating the 9.5s. Sometimes, like the video I posted earlier made me a bit nervous. Why? Technique. I don’t understand if we have four exercises how team sport work can allow for one coach to see multiple athletes doing multiple complexes. I know I am just average, but can super coaches see four areas at once? I like circuits, but nobody is spotting guys during seated cable rows because some sort of safety net exists with conditioning like work. With Oxidative Split Squats I am not seeing Colm O’Connell telling David Rudisha we are not doing hills today, get your dumbbells out as we are going to work that last 200m kick the right way. What is the primary, secondary, and perhaps side benefits of specific training?

So what age is the appropriate? What training age is this safe for? Should each person be individualized? Is a specific series (4 exercises) the right option for the other athletes in the group? When does a coach and athlete have the right to say we need 3 or 4 exercises back to back. It use to be squat to jump, now it’s lift, jump 1, jump 2, jump 3. Where are the freaks? My joke to the interns was if all of this stuff is working so well, why doesn’t the NFL change the combine to that location and recruit locally only? Who needs Alabama and LSU when we got doing French Contrast work.

While it may seem like I am against the methods, clearly from my promotion of Werner Gunthor I believe in it. My belief is that their are far less Werners than we have random youtube bros that are doing workouts without evidence that the basics are mastered, and other options such as lifestyle and recovery are not explored. Advanced training needs to be earned, but how does one assess one is ready for it? When progressions and regressions are talked about on blogs, what are the rules and research implications of such a range of possible combination of effects for this training. How much better is the improvement and what risks do we have with overtraining?

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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