General Concepts and Progression of the Omni-Contraction System – Elite FTS

I want to start this article by saying that I did not make this system. I’m simply passing on what I’ve learned over the past three or four months and how I’ve applied it myself.

I started researching this system earlier this past spring after hearing Ben Prentice talk (from Prentice’s hockey performance) on the Mike and Brooker Show podcast. I was already thinking about improving my training philosophy and was looking at emphasizing the different contractions because of how they contribute to athletic performance. The only problem I had was that I didn’t know how to effectively combine them all together.

After I heard Ben talk about how he trained his athletes, it all made sense. Fast forward a month, I’ve been flipping through some of my notes from previous books I’ve read, and there they are! Christian Thibault wrote about the system in his book Modern force theory, methods and application (The lesson here is to re-read your notes or books.) After researching more about the system and consulting with Ben, I hope to give you a brief description of the system.

Each training day is full-body and emphasizes one specific contraction.

Day One – Eccentric Day

Day Two – Isometric Day

Day Three – Center Day

Day 4 – Gap Day (Optional)

I want to stress once again that I did not develop this and that I am not an expert in it. I’m still learning and improving how to implement it with my athletes. I simply want to convey what I have learned and provide a basic progression with slight explanations, as well as a sample 12-week program that I may write for a client. If this article caught your attention, I highly suggest purchasing Christian’s book or booking a consultation with Ben or Christian. Both are a wealth of knowledge.

Stage 1 – Accumulation (constructive)

The primary goal of this phase is to build muscle tissue and tendon flexibility. As you will see as you progress, each phase depends on each other (the basis of your menstrual cycle). This phase, being an accumulation phase, will tend to be higher in volume and/or time under tension. So, this is the scheme for the first stage:

Eccentric – (excellent) slow eccentric

Performing an eccentric muscle for four to eight seconds is ideal here, with doing a longer eccentric performance with fewer repetitions. This helps build tendon strength, increase muscle tolerance to the load, as well as lengthen muscle fibers.

Isometric – isometric or long hurdles

Holding the contraction at a specific angle in the joint can help increase muscle flexibility at the specific angle. Maintaining isometrics in the stretching position can also be very beneficial, especially for increasing the mobility of certain joints (eg, split squats for the hip and ankle flexors).

Central – repetition method, bodybuilding work, skate work

The central day is simply the General Physical Preparedness Building (GPP). Depending on the athlete’s needs, they may do inflation or conditioning work with a sled.

Gap Day – Recovery, Mobility, Primer, Bodybuilding

This day is available if needed for specific needs that cannot be done on other days.

The second stage – condensation (Energy)

Now that the muscles and tendons are more load-bearing, they are ready to undergo high-intensity nervous work. The main goal is to stress the body vigorously for 3-4 weeks to get the “super-compensating” effect during the final phase.

Eccentric – Maximum eccentric or above maximum

Eccentric hooks or protruding eccentric methods are used at this stage. Eccentricity essentially refers to emphasizing the eccentric action by making it more difficult than the concentric movement (for example, the 2:1 leg flexion exercise). By performing an extra-heavy eccentric, it enhances the body’s ability to absorb force, as well as recruiting a higher proportion of fast-twitch fibers. As Christian Thibault states in his book, “You cannot produce what you cannot absorb.” Essentially, this stage prepares the body to produce more force in the next stage.

Isometric – Beat the Measure

Pushing or pulling against pins or a rack is a very quick way to increase strength at specific joint angles that are emphasized by recruiting a large number of motor units. Although it is a very effective method, it is very specific to the working angle, plus or minus 15 degrees. Therefore, it is important to work in three different angles or positions for each movement. Each exercise is performed for four to six seconds, at a rate of one to two per set.

Concentric – Maximum Effort or Olympic Lifts from Blocks

Think of this day as Westside Barbell Max Day of the primary effort. There is no TEMPO. Just lifting weights with proper technique. Olympic lifts from blocks will also be used on this day if the athlete has enough strength and needs more speed or speed power. The goal of this day is to produce maximum dynamic power.

Gap Day – The Repetition Method, Recover

Since the first three days are so demanding on the nervous system, this gap day should be used for either a recovery day or low stress bodybuilding work. If you have an athlete who needs more muscle, this would be a good day to include machine workouts. I stress machines because they are less demanding on the nervous system than barbells and dumbbells. Basically, get a huge pump without feeling too tired or sore that can hinder recovery for the next week.

Stage 3 – Transfer / Investigation (Speed)

The second stage allowed the body to absorb and produce large amounts of force. The goal of Phase 3 now is to take this increased production of strength and have the athlete produce it more quickly (aka more strength). This is the stage with the most leeway (in my opinion) and the techniques used depend entirely on what the athlete needs the most. For example, a younger, weaker athlete can still benefit from using heavy lifting, especially on a focus day, while a more experienced, stronger athlete would be more suited to speeding up work. Complex training is highly recommended at this point to help the athlete transfer strength gains into power. Although the methods may differ, the principles remain the same.

Eccentric Day – Eccentric Overspeed

The use of resistance in the form of bands and the incorporation of leap depth variations is usually used today. The bands provide an eccentric excess velocity because the bands essentially pull the weight down, thus increasing the overall power of the system. Rapid deflection, and sometimes falls, creates rapid stretching and leads to a stronger stretching reaction, resulting in increased force production. The same applies to depth jumps or shock training, as developed by Verkhochansky. Usually, deep jumps are not acceptable because they can be very dangerous if the athlete cannot absorb the forces. The beauty of this system progression is that the athlete has just gone through three to four weeks of max load or above max load oddity, which means he can handle forces. Again, the methods of each stage depend on each other which leads to this final stage.

Isometric Day – Functional measurements, overcoming isometrics of speed

Ben Prentiss uses functional measurements, or Isometronics, at this point. Christian Thibodeau has written about overspending on equal measures of speed, which involves producing maximum power in the least amount of time. Basically, the coach has some freedom when it comes to an isometric day in the final stage. As usual, it depends on what the athlete needs most. For example, I used a variation on beat isometrics with explosive jumps this summer with a group of athletes before they headed off to their respective camps.

Concentric Day – Heavy Parts, Plyometrics, Olympic Lifting from Suspension or Floor, Fast Racing

Similar to an isometric day, there can be a variety of methods used. If speed is the priority, Olympic lifts from suspension mode would be a good choice. If the athlete is not strong enough, heavy partial movements may be beneficial. Acceleration, resisted or irresistible sprints, plyometrics and a medicine ball can all be used. Assess the sport and the individual needs of the athlete to determine the appropriate training.

Gap Day – The Repetition Method, Recover

Like Phase 2. With the seasons following this phase, the goal is to increase the volume of exercise, which means decreasing the volume of weight training to begin reducing cumulative fatigue. Of course, if the athlete is young and recovers well, then a small amount of low-pressure machine work will not hurt.

warning: I don’t recommend some of these techniques for novice athletes due to their stress level (eg, max/over-max eccentric). For younger athletes, I recommend staying with slow eccentrics and giving isometrics until they have developed enough eccentric and isometric strength and perfect technique.

Sample 12 week program

Now that I understand the general concepts and advancements in the Omni-Contraction System, I will put together a very basic 12 week program that can be used for the intermediate/advanced athlete. As you’ll see, the focus in the latter phase is on speed, but being an average athlete, he’ll still benefit from some core strength work. Also, I didn’t include the gap day because there is a lot of difference on that day. It also depends a lot on how the athlete feels on that particular day and whether an additional training day would be beneficial.

a summary

Although an athlete may not be ready to go to extremes or beat the scales of balance, I think the main takeaway from the article is that we, as strength trainers, need to start thinking about how focusing on different muscle contractions can be beneficial for our athletes. Do not forget that sports include all three contractions, not just concentric; Therefore, lifting maximum concentric weights all the time without increasing eccentric or isometric strength will limit the athletes’ ability to produce force on the field, not to mention make them more susceptible to injury.

If you are interested in learning more about the system or how to use it, contact Ben or Christian, or even feel free to email or send me a direct message and I can help in any way I can.

references

  1. Dietz, C., and Peterson, B. (2012). Triphasic training: a structured approach to elite speed and explosive strength performance. Goodbye Dietz Sport Enterprise.
  2. Thibaudeau, C., & Schwartz, T. (2007). Modern force theory, methods and application. F Lepine Pub.

Max Daigle is currently completing his undergraduate studies at McGill University with his Bachelor’s degree. Physiology, with a minor in kinesiology. He played NCAA Division 1 hockey at the University of Vermont before transferring to McGill, where he played two seasons. Max is the Assistant Strength Coach at Axxeleration Performance Center, under the supervision of Mark Lambert (head strength coach Tampa Bay Lightning NHL) and Sebastien Lagrange. Axxeleration Performance Center is a private gym out of Montreal, Quebec, that works primarily with hockey players.

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