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Applying The Basic Concept of Triphasic Training

Posted on January 13, 2014 by Chris Merritt in Uncategorized // 7 Comments


In reading Triphasic Training, I was immediately intrigued by the application of the 3 phases of
muscle action:
1. Eccentric (almost every explosive athletic movement begins with an eccentric
load)*
2. Isometric (in the transition from eccentric to concentric there is an isometric
contraction, minimal as it may be, its there)*
3. Concentric (go time!)*
*All are performed above 80% 1RM
The authors present a 3 phase program, in which the first phase covers the triphasic nature of
movement.
The first few weeks (phase one for our example below) focus on timed eccentric loading, followed
immediately by minimal time of transfer between isometric/concentric change of direction. This is
GREAT for learning to control a movement. Eccentric neural grooving is touched on within the FRC
system to teach a movement first (after proper mobility is present). While the approach for this may
be a slightly different application, the eccentric phase is a great way to teach control of patterns!
The next few weeks (phase two for our example below) focus on the isometric load through a FAST
eccentric, a solid timed isometric, and once again, a strong, explosive, concentric change of
direction. This is great for teaching the individual, and preparing the nervous system to be able to
stop movement on a dime before exploding concentrically
The last few weeks focus on the whole movement being done with maximum velocity across all three
muscle actions.
Coach Cal Dietz explains it in way more depth in this video:
The isometric phase was the most interesting to me, as I recently heard another individual by the
name of Bill Knowles speak on this at the Perform Better one-day seminar in New Jersey a few
weeks ago. Bill used the example of a volleyball player jumping up to make a block, landing, and
then immediately going up again for another attempt at a block. If the player is landing soft, with a
long controlled landing, they wont be very fast at getting up for the next block. They need to land

controlled, yet with optimal stiffness to be able to change direction and go back up in an extremely
fast manner.
Have you ever used those drills where you do a box jump, hurdle jump, et cetera, and coached the
athlete/been coached yourself to land quietly by using a soft absorbed landing? Why? Name me
an athletic movement that occurs with a quiet, soft landing Having a hard time?
Sport takes place with quick, violent changes of direction. The faster the athlete is at eccentrically
loading, isometrically contracting, and turning over into a FAST concentric change of direction, the
more successful they are on the playing field. Still with me?

So between the wanted stiffness Bill pointed out at Perform Better, and the triphasic training system
that the authors presented in Triphasic Training, it all happened to click for me. You
cant necessarily just do this stuff through repetition. Im sure some people can, heck, people do
things in spite of the training all the time. But the majority of us would benefit greatly from the system
Im about to lay out.
.

How Ive Applied the Triphasic


Muscle Action Model
Before I get into it, know that this is MY TAKE on applying the model. It is not exactly how the
authors do so in the book You should absolutely read Triphasic Training, as Im sure youll have

plenty of questions that will be answered by the book, as well as learn it THEIR way and figure out if
you should/how to apply the information within your system.
As mentioned above, in phase one we focus on the eccentric portion of the lift. Triphasic
Training uses the squat and bench press as the main movements for most of the triphasic muscle
action work in their programs, but I will sometimes program combo and hybrid exercises. More on
that later
A few quick points on our phase one example:

This is a simple A/B template for a 3x/week program

Week one: A/B/A

Week two: B/A/B

Week three: A/B/A

Week four: B/A/B

This is not the entire days lifts, just up to the eccentric section

I am only applying the eccentric focus to the main compound lifts, typically one
to two

(3XX) = eccentric in seconds/isometric/concentric

.
Phase 1:
Workout A
Exercise Name

Week1

Week2

Week3

Week4

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

2 x 5/

3x8

3x8

3x8

2x8

3x8

3x8

4x8

2x8

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

4 x 5/

2 x 5/

A1. Water Pail MB Throw 3 x 5/


A2. Plank Walkback w/
Sliders
B1. Barbell Back
Squat (3XX)
B2. Rib Grab T-Spine
Rotation
.

Workout B
Exercise Name

Week1

Week2

Week3

Week4

A1. Axe MB Throw

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

2 x 5/

Pallof Press

3 x :30/

3 x :30/

3 x :30/

2 x :30/

B1. Bench Press (3XX)

3x8

3x8

4x8

2x8

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

4x5

2 x 5/

A2. Iso Lunge Static

B2. Rib Grab T-Spine


Rotation

.
A few quick points on our phase two example:

This is a simple A/B template for a 3x/week program

Week one: A/B/A

Week two: B/A/B

Week three: A/B/A

Week four: B/A/B

This is not the entire days lifts, just up to the isometric section

I am only applying the isometric focus to the main compound lifts, typically one
to two

(X3X) = eccentric/isometric hold in seconds/concentric

Phase 2:
Workout A
Exercise Name

Week1

Week2

Week3

Week4

A1. Lateral MB Throw

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

2 x 5/

3x5

3x5

3x5

2x5

(X3X)

3x5

3x5

4x5

2x5

B2. Kettlebell Arm Bar

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

4 x 5/

2 x 5/

A2. Plank Reaches w/


Sliders
B1. Barbell Back Squat

.
Workout B
Exercise Name

Week1

Week2

Week3

Week4

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

2 x 5/

Pitchfork

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

2 x 5/

B1. Bench Press (X3X)

3x5

3x5

4x5

2x5

B2. Kettlebell Arm Bar

3 x 5/

3 x 5/

4 x 5/

2 x 5/

A1. Reverse Transverse


MB Throw
A2. Kneeling Rip

.
The third phase would simply be the full movements performed as explosively as
possible
Now, this is a VERY basic template in terms of sets/reps, and thats for example purpose. Dont
over-analyze this aspect. Its a blog post, not a book.
As I said before, I will sometimes use combo exercises for the triphasic muscle action as well. Here
is an example with the isometric focus in mind (sorry his feet got cut off by iMovie):
So there you have it- a simple, practical model to apply the BASIC concept of the first phase
of Triphasic Training. Have questions? Want me to expand on anything? Drop a
question/comment below and I will be sure to answer
Progression Through Perseverance,
Chris (12025)
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Chris Merritt

Co-Owner at Beyond Strength Performance

Strength Coach/ B.S. Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University/ FMS/ Functional Range
Conditioning Mobility Specialist/ Certified Kettlebell Instructor/ Owner of Beyond
Strength Performance and Beyond Strength Performance NOVA