In the video below, Men’s Health Fitness Director BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S., discusses a training trick that “excites your nervous system” and makes you feel “stronger and faster.”You’d think he was talking about a performance-enhancing drug.
But nope, it’s called “contrast training conditioning.” This technique involves performing a heavy, slow-tempo strength movement immediately before a lighter, faster move for the same muscle groups or movement pattern in order to boost your performance in the second exercise. “It creates what’s called ‘post activation potentiation,’ which means it really excites your nervous system and you end up feeling even stronger and faster and creating more force with that lighter load because of the heavier stimulus to start,” Gaddour says.

For example, you could perform 10 minutes of alternating stepups at a slow tempo while wearing a weight vest. “And then when I take the weight vest off and continue, I’m going to go faster than normal because of how fired up my neuromuscular system is,” Gaddour says. You can apply this to other conditioning exercises like lunges or crawls or even running, he says. You’ll get the strength and conditioning work and a performance boost on your subsequent unloaded move as a result.