Burst Contrast Training

Dose & Dustin Myers


I have always used sled work - pushing, pulling, dragging, rowing - to train my athletes.  I believe that a prowler or sled is the best tool to build functional strength and endurance, particularly in combat athletes such as wrestlers.  One of the issues I was faced with was how to make sled more of a power modality rather than just building strength or increasing muscle endurance.  The other factor I am interested in is how do we increase an athletes “power endurance” - the ability to explode powerfully over and over again during the span of a match with out losing a significant amount of their power?  When you want to develop a fast, powerful sprint you would work with short intervals.  Likewise, when you want to build power on compound lifts, you would focus on moving the bar very fast with heavy loads for low reps.  Rather than push or pull a sled for 100+ feet, why not push a very heavy sled (one that you must give max effort just to budge) for short distances?  While consulting with OSU Football Strength Coach Micky Marotti, we came up with the idea of pairing that concept with a high intensity interval protocol that I have labeled Burst Training.

Burst Training is a sprint interval utilized on functional movements - typically sled pushing, pulling or dragging - to build power endurance.  While typical sled work is great to build strength and endurance, performing the movements with very heavy loads will improve an athletes ability to explode and scramble at a high level multiple times with in a match without becoming overly fatigued.

Burst Contrast training involves taking that same heavy loaded sprint (or “bust”) protocol and contrasting it immediately with an unloaded sprint.  The heavy burst interval “primes the pump” for your fast twitch muscle fibers and will help increase the power development effect of the sprint.  Think of this as similar to performing a heavy compound movement - the deadlift or back squat - then immediately completing a box jump or broad jump.  The time under tension of the squat or deadlift for a single or double will be very similar to the 5 second max effort interval on the sled.

Set up and execution:

Set up a sled or prowler with a very heavy load.

Push the sled at max effort for 5 seconds.

Immediately “roll off” the sled and accelerate to top speed sprint as quickly as possible for a short distance.  Sprint should only last a few seconds.

Walk or jog back and repeat 3-5 times.

The heavier the load, the longer the rest between intervals should be. 

Aim for a 1:3 to 1:5 work to rest interval***

*Dose and I were using a slightly lower rest than is recommended in order to show the proper “flow” for the video.  You can use less rest like what is shown if using this style of sled work more for conditioning.  If doing power/speed development try to use a minimum 1:3 Work:Rest ratio.

Dose and Coach Myers use the Max Effort Pre-Workout to get prepared for intense workouts like these!