keiran halton

Slow Down (And Stop) Your Lifts For Big Gains: An Overview of Triphasic Training Part II

What’s up? Time for round two of our Triphasic talk.

If you by chance missed it (shame on you), then be sure to head over and read it here. You’ll need to be up to speed if you hope to get the most out of this training program, so be sure to check it out.

As far as this article goes, it’s going to be pretty brief. My goal is to give you a light overview of the program, and then hook you up with a workout you can crush over the next 9-10 weeks. The exact time frame will depend on whether or not you choose to take a deload, but we’ll get to that later.

Before you download the program below, there are a few basic principles I want to outline for you:

1. This is a 9-10 week program with a 3 day workout schedule.

2. Each day is based on a Squat, Bench, or Deadlift Variation.

3. You’ll want to pick a variation of each main lift for each of the three minicycles.  For example, you can do a floor press for phase 1 (weeks 1-3), a swiss bar bench press for phase 2 (weeks 4-6), and then a close grip bench press for phase 3 (weeks 6-9)

4. The basic program set up involves three undulated (constantly changing) minicycles broken up by the 3 different phases I talked about in the first article: eccentric, isometric, and concentric. The first 3 weeks are eccentric focused, the second three are isometric focused, and the last three weeks go back to a regular (but explosive) tempo.

5. Like the original set up Dietz and Peterson detailed, there will be a moderate intensity/volume day, a high intensity/low volume day, and a low intensity/high volume day.

6. The intensity of the day applies to only the auxiliary work, while the intensity of the main lift will increase 5% each week.

7. Even though most of the program is below 80%, you will still get stronger by the end of the program. This 60-80% is what Dietz and Peterson describe as the “High Force, High Velocity” block. Ultimately, the sub-max nature allows you to continue training without getting too beat up, while also letting you play in any leagues or pick-up games you may have going on. Remember, with this set up, conservative is always better!

8. I would suggest you taking a deload week after the isometric block. Just throw together a 2 to 3 day training week that’s more volume based rather than intense, and you should be good.

9. As I previously mentioned, the sub-maximal nature of the program allows you to keep up with any activities you may have going on outside of training, so feel free to do so.

10. I would encourage you to do some lighter cardio on your "off" days.  For ideas on how to program your conditioning, check out James’ webinar here or this post on aerobic development.

Do keep in mind that this is merely one set up out of thousands!  The world of triphasic programming is a big one, but I wanted you to get your feet wet and this is a great program to do it on.

Once you run through the program, feel free to plug in your own auxiliary lifts, change the main lifts, change the emphasis, change the percentages, etc. and make it your own.

I also know a lot of people reading this site, and maybe even you, are in your post-playing days. That's not to say your an ex-athlete, it just means you no longer play your sport of choice competitively.  If you fall in that bucket, feel free to throw in an extra upper body day because who doesn't believe in the “Sun’s Out, Guns Out!” lifestyle.

If you have and/or come across any questions while going through the program, feel free to post them below in the comment section or hit me up on facebook.  Lastly, be sure to keep track of your numbers, because we want to know how much progress you've made.

Click Below to Download the Goods

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About the Author

Keiran Halton

I have my MS in Exercise Physiology from William Paterson University in NJ, and while attending I had two world class internships under the NY Islanders Sports Performance Department in Syosset, NY as well as Defrancos Training Systems in Wyckoff, NJ.  I currently coach at the Mamaroneck Equinox in NY, and have worked with prepubescent up to adult professional athletes.  I myself was an Academic All-Conference player in college for basketball and volleyball at Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, NY.  You can connect with me on Facebook, so come hangout.

Slow Down (and Stop) Your Lifts for Big Gains: An Overview of Triphasic Training

During my time at Defrancos Training Systems, formerly of New Jersey, I was exposed to a crazy idea: every lift, every cut in sports, every time you take a step, you’re in one of three phases of movement. 

You are slowing down (eccentric contractions)

Reversing or stopping the movement (isometric contraction or amortization)

Propelling yourself or a body segment to a different space all together (concentric contraction)

The idea of the different phases of movement is not anything revolutionary, but to train each separately to build up a lift or dynamic movement to a whole new level was!

The idea came from strength and conditioning coach Cal Dietz from the University of Minnesota and PHD candidate Ben Peterson. Both coauthored Triphasic Training: A Systematic Approach to Elite Speed and Explosive Strength Training Performance. While the programming in the latter parts of the book may be a little complicated, the beginning and background on the breakdown of movements is an absolute gold mine. Let me explain…

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Eccentric Phase

Essentially, the weight placed on your body is greater than the force you are generating in the lowering phase of a movement. For example:

Lowering the bar to your chest during the bench (weight is too heavy to press back up but you can still lower it)

Loading your bodyweight into your toes before taking off for a sprint

This eccentric contraction is a crucial part of athletics and lifting because without substantial eccentric strength, you are more likely to get hurt (think tearing an ACL non-contact).

Training the eccentric portion has a major influence on the subsequent phases. Every dynamic or athletic movement BEGINS with an eccentric contraction. Think about it--when you jump, you don’t stand straight up and pop your ankles to get off the ground. You eccentrically load your glutes and hamstrings by sitting your hips back into a quarter squat before leaping off the ground. Increasing your eccentric strength will allow you to absorb a greater amount of energy to be used to explode through your movement in the concentric phase (more on that later).

For guys looking to put on some size, this is a great way to pack on muscle fast! By slowing down the tempo and flooding your muscles with blood, you are forcing your muscles to adapt and grow. The best part is, you will see the size (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy; bodybuilder), and the thickness (myofibril hypertrophy; powerlifter) you so desire.

To sum up the eccentric phase--slow down your lowering phase! Count to three before the bar touches your chest in the bench, or five seconds letting the bar up during a pull down. Be warned though...this is extremely taxing and of the three phases this one is mostly closely related to muscle damage. Thus, always stay conservative when using this method, and gradually work your way up.

Types of exercises:  Negatives, Slow Tempo

Ideal Percentage Range:  60-80

Ideal Rep Range:  3-6 x 3-6

Time under Eccentric:  6-8 sec.

Isometric Phase

The isometric portion of a movement, aka amortization, is the part of movement where you have absorbed the force and are now transferring that energy from eccentric to the concentric phase. This portion of the movement is usually the shortest and almost unrecognizable, regardless of your efficiency in this phase.

To truly benefit from using all that force you absorbed in the eccentric portion (“every action has an equal and opposite reaction”), this phase needs to be as short as possible.

If you were a car, you’d want to have the tightest brakes on the street: when your foot hits the brake, you should stop almost instantly with no tire tracks behind you.

If your isometric phase isn’t strong, however, you’ll hit the brakes and go flying down the block until you crash into somebody else.

Now think of how important stopping and changing direction in in sports and lifting!

Why is this phase so important if it’s so short?

Again, for the athlete, sometimes this is the only thing that separates someone from being good vs. great. If you can’t use the force from the eccentric portion to launch yourself into the explosive concentric portion, then you’re losing out on power you could be generating.

Think jumping off a hardwood basketball court vs. a beach volleyball court--one surface gives a lot of bounce, while the other gets made into sandcastles all day.

For the athlete looking to make gains in the weight room, training your isometric phase has less of an effect then the eccentric hypertrophy we previously touched on, but can again be the small difference you need to take you from decent weight to “wow that’s a lot of weight” weight.

Have you experienced being stapled in the bottom of the hole squatting, or stuck trying to get the bar off the floor during a deadlift?  If so, training that spot in your lift through pause reps will allow you to train that specific (within 10-15°) angle in your lift. Thus, next time you get stuck at a particular sticking point, think of giving isometric reps a shot.

While the isometric phase is very simplistic in nature, hold a spot for a designated amount of time and finish the rep, and isn’t as taxing as eccentric work, it’s again not easy. As with the eccentric phase, be conservative. These will catch up to you quickly, and you don’t want to be hanging out under load for a while if your form is shot. Make it perfect and make it reasonable!

Types of exercises: Overcoming Isometric (Push/pull against immovable object), Yielding Isometric (Pause Reps)

Ideal Percentage Range:  60-80

Ideal Rep Range:  3-4 x 3-6

Time under Isometric:  6-8 sec.

Concentric Phase

This is the phase everyone knows and love--your body is overcoming the force placed upon it. When you ask the guy at the gym, “how much ya bench?” you are referring to the concentric phase.

After a few sessions or weeks, depending on your program, following the eccentric and isometric phases, you have hopefully become more efficient at moving. What I mean is you no longer waste as much energy in your movements. All of these subsequent phases leading up to the concentric phase were to allow your body to be able to absorb and transfer more energy in less time.

To take advantage of this, you should perform each movement as explosively as possible with perfect form. This goes for whether you are lifting 50% of your 1RM or 99.9% of your 1RM--push as hard and fast as you can (again…FORM INTENSIVE)!

This lends itself greatly to a traditional team sport athlete because it transfers to blowing by guys and juking a defender out of his or her sneakers. As far as the weightroom goes, this is where you feel as if you are “throwing” the weight up.

Sometimes breaking through a plateau is just a matter of speeding up the lift, and taking advantage of the elasticity of your tendons/ligaments and muscles.

Feel free to push the intensity on these guys, but be careful at first. The increased speed will very likely have your balance a little out of whack, so feel out a regular tempo or even a relatively quick pace before going all out.

Types of exercises: Dynamic Effort, Plyometric, Band Resisted/Assisted

Ideal Percentage Range: 30 to 100%

Ideal Rep Range: 3-4 x 4-6 to 1 x 1-2

Time under Concentric: ALMOST NONE! BE FAST AND AGGRESSIVE! (with perfect form).

Wrap up

I hope you guys see the value and benefit of spending time breaking down your lifts this way.

This style of training works wonders for athletes of all ages and levels, recreational guys, serious lifters, and even the occasional person rehabbing an injury.

Trust me, it works!

Aside from witnessing first hand the benefits of this style of programming, I also experienced it myself when my legs felt explosive and strong again after back-to-back knee surgeries.

Feel free to add one type if you have a very specific goal in mind, or throw a whole program together cycling through the different phases of the lift.

Look for part two where I will throw together a sample program template so you guys can actually see things laid out in front of you, and you’ll be able to plug and go!

About the Author

Keiran Halton

I have my MS in Exercise Physiology from William Paterson University in NJ, and while attending I had two world class internships under the NY Islanders Sports Performance Department in Syosset, NY as well as Defrancos Training Systems in Wyckoff, NJ.  I currently coach at the Mamaroneck Equinox in NY, and have worked with prepubescent up to adult professional athletes.  I myself was an Academic All-Conference player in college for basketball and volleyball at Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, NY.  You can connect with me on Facebook, so come hangout.

(Click here if you'd like to contribute and be featured)

Resources

Triphasic Training: A Systematic Approach to Elite Speed and Explosive Strength Training Performance. Cal Dietz and Ben Peterson

http://www.stack.com/2012/05/18/the-importance-of-triphasic-training-part-i-introduction/

http://www.stack.com/2012/05/25/the-importance-of-triphasic-training-part-2-the-eccentric-phase/

http://www.stack.com/2012/06/27/isometric-phase/

http://www.stack.com/2012/07/09/concentric-training/