How much weight can you lift, how high can you jump, how fast can you run? These may seem like straightforward questions to answer, however when you come to train your body to lift more, jump higher and run faster how many times have you struggled or hit a plateau?
By digging into the detail on how you produce force when moving – i.e. moving from the eccentric phase of a movement (lengthening your muscles) to the concentric phase (shortening/contracting your muscles) – you’ll begin to understand which area of weakness you have and improve it by training each area independently. Before long, and with a hefty dose of mental stubbornness to keep grinding through, you’ll skyrocket your performance from novice gym-goer to athlete, and from athlete to elite athletic performer.
What is Triphasic Training?
Triphasic training refers to applying physical stressors to each phase of a movement individually so that you can explosively expel energy in the concentric phase of dynamic movement. This means that triphasic training teaches you to absorb eccentric and isometric phases which is different to more traditional training methods that focus on strengthening the concentric phase alone. Triphasic training incorporates working in specific tempos (much like tempo training), focusing on each type of muscle contraction. For example, if you struggle with getting out of the hole in your squat, triphasic training focusing on that phase of the lift will turn your ‘weakness’ into a strength, improving your overall performance.
Let’s recap, muscle contraction within a full lifting movement is broken down into three parts:
- Eccentric Phase – How long it takes you to lower the weight. In this phase you are stretching or lengthening the muscle. Examples include lowering in a back squat, bringing the bar to the chest on a bench press, and lowering yourself in a pull-up.
- Isometric Phase – The pause at the bottom of the movement between the eccentric and concentric phases, i.e. the change in direction
- Concentric Phase – How long it takes you to lift the weight back to your starting position. In this phase you are contracting the muscle. Examples include standing up in a squat, the press in the bench press, and the upward portion of the pullup.
These three phases would be worked through in a tempo format. For example, focusing on the eccentric phase to a tempo of 5-0-0 means that the eccentric phase is 5 seconds, the isometric phase is 0 seconds (i.e. just change direction), the concentric phase is 0 seconds (i.e. no tempo). Focusing on the isometric phase looks like 0-5-0.
How to programme Triphasic Training
Triphasic training principles can be applied to your existing programme without any real changes or having to start from scratch, and covers all of your standard lifts such as squat, bench press, deadlift, rows, pull ups, and Olympic lifts. The full triphasic training macrocycle covers up to 12-weeks, if you include a period of General Physical Preparedness (which is recommended).
All you then need to do is apply triphasic principles as a mesocycle of training to each area:
Mesocycle 1: Eccentric Focus
- Weight range: 60-80% of your maximum
- Eccentric time: 6 – 8 seconds – use a timer to keep count
- Purpose: to increase time under tension and increase muscle building potential
- Isometric and concentric phases should be as fast as possible
- This mesocycle will feel tiring because of the increased time under tension during the eccentric portion of the movement
Mesocycle 2: Isometric Focus
- Weight range: 60-80% of your maximum
- Isometric time: 3 – 6 seconds – use a timer to keep count
- Purpose: to develop strength specifically at the point in the lift where the weight changes direction, teaching you how to train deceleration and absorb energy
- Eccentric and concentric phases should be as fast as possible
- This mesocycle will feel even more tiring that the eccentric phase because everything is fast – eccentric speed, stopping speed, concentric speed – except the isometric hold, and absorbing that energy is tough on your muscles and central nervous system
Mesocycle 3: Concentric / Peaking Focus
- Weight range: 50-95% of your maximum
- Concentric time: as fast as you can
- Purpose: to explode with power!
- Eccentric and isometric phases should be as fast as possible
- You’ll be surprised how easy it feels to lift weights you may have previously struggled with. Well done!
Is Triphasic Training suitable for beginners?
Yes, beginners can benefit hugely from triphasic training. By using slow eccentrics, longer isometric pauses and fast concentrics, triphasic training will give beginners plenty of time to think about body position, how they execute the movements and support the development of mental toughness required to get the best out of training.