Within session exercise sequencing during programming for complex training: Historical perspectives, terminology, and training considerations
School of Medical and Health Sciences
The primary aim of this narrative review was to outline the historical genesis of resistance training strategies that incorporate high-load, low-velocity exercises and low-load, high-velocity exercises in the same training session allowing for different “exercise sequences” to be simultaneously implemented. Discrepancies between scientific works and the terminology used within contemporary sport science publications are identified. Upon review of the literature, we propose “complex training” to be considered an umbrella term with 4 different implementations, generally used to indicate a method in which movement velocity or load is altered between sets and/or exercises within the same session with the aim of improving slow and fast force expression. We propose the following terminology for said implementations: contrast training—exercise sequence with alternating high-load and low-load (higher-velocity) exercises in a set-by-set fashion within the same session (corresponding with ‘contrast pairs’ and ‘intra-contrast rest’); descending training—several sets of high-load (e.g., back squat) exercises completed before the execution of several sets of low-load, higher-velocity (e.g., vertical jump) exercises within the same session; ascending training—several sets of low-load, higher-velocity exercises completed before several sets of high-load exercises within the same session; and French contrast training—subset of contrast training in which a series of exercises are performed in sequence within a single session: heavy compound exercise, plyometric exercise, light-to-moderate load compound exercise that maximises movement speed (i.e., external power), and a plyometric exercise (often assisted). Finally, practical applications and training considerations are presented.