Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Contrast Training

Alright, guys. Time for a check-in: Have you been working out? On a regular basis? If not, no worries. I won't scold you. Rather, I'd like to inspire you because today is your day! Translation: It's never too late to start working out. To make your health and fitness a priority. And if you already are, well...kudos to you for living the fit life! Just remember that it's never a bad time to switch it, change it. Or rearrange it. So on that note, let's talk about something we fitness geeks refer to as contrast training. It'll A) help you jump start your workouts, or B) help you bust through a plateau.

Like supersets, contrast training is yet another trick of the fitness trade. Unlike supersets, the focus remains on one (rather than opposing) muscle group. Contrast training combines two exercises. One is muscle based, the other calls upon your nervous system. In other words, resistance versus plyometric exercises. Dig back to your human bio class and you might recall that the nervous system controls our ability to move. So when we do plyometric exercises, we're asking our bodies to react quickly to our desire to move suddenly. And so, the nervous system sends a message to the muscle, which consequently calls upon more muscle fibers to create action. Fast-twitch muscle fibers, to be specific, which are the exact same muscle fibers we use when performing resistance exercises.

Get where I'm going with this? So when we start with a resistance exercises and follow it with a plyometric exercise, we're essentially doubling the fun. Or the challenge, which might be a better way of looking at it. In the end, you're building strength and power at the same time. Something a lot of athletes really appreciate.

Not an athlete? S'ok. Contrast training tends to increase metabolic activity, too. As in, your metabolism...as in, your ability to burn calories.

OK, so you get it. But what combinations of exercises qualify as contrast training? Here's a list. Do one set of the first, followed closely by one set of the second:

1) Squats and Jump Squats
2) Chest Presses and Explosive (Fast) Pushups or Chest Passes
    with a Medicine Ball
3) Chin-Ups or Lat Pulldowns and Overhead Medicine Ball Slams
4) Walking Lunges and Sprints
5) Cable Torso Rotations and Sideways Medicine Ball Tosses

Really, this list is endless. So play around and find a few combinations that work for you. Try replacing one or two of your standard exercises with a set of contrast training exercises. And give yourself ample time to rest in between sets, you'll need it.

And if you need a little balance in your life, head on over to Healthy Living Blogs and check out my guest post on that very subject! So excited to be featured!

REMINDER! Don't forget to enter my Journey Bars giveaway! You just might win a combo box of 12 delicious and nutritious bars. (Contest ends at midnight EST on Friday, November 19, 2010).

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