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Popularized and written about mostly by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell, dynamic effort (DE) training is a style of working out that maximizes velocity. Utilized in workouts for athletes, powerlifters, and more, dynamic effort work can make you faster and more explosive. Just as importantly, it allows you to better utilize strength you already have. Here’s a basic guide on how and why to incorporate DE training into your program.
Also called “speed strength”, dynamic effort work moves the bar at what could be considered “intermediate velocity” – .7-.9 meters/second. This is best done with 50-60% of your 1RM for roughly 20 total reps or so – 10 sets x 2 reps works well. What this allows you to do is generate the most calculable power for the greatest tonnage.
If you lift super heavy, you can maximize strength output, but speed will be greatly reduced. On the flip side, if you lift super light, you can maximize speed, but will exert almost no strength. Dynamic effort training lets you train with the best combination of both worlds at the same time in order to produce the most explosive power. In addition, you can move the most amount of total weight (sets x reps x weight used) with the most amount of power possible.
While it’s apparent why improving speed could be beneficial to an athlete, does it really matter to those just trying to exert maximum strength? It does because as the weight gets heavier, you can’t move it as quickly due to gravity pulling on it more and more harder. Simmons often says that weights aren’t “heavy” or “light” – they are just moved slowly or quickly. If you want to be able to move a weight as quickly as possible for how much gravity is pulling on it, you need to maximize speed.
You might think that if you have enough strength, you can overcome a lack of speed. This might be especially true if you had a high level of relative strength (strength-to-bodyweight ratio). However, this would be incorrect. As important as strength is, having too much with too little speed could actually be a hindrance. For example, a study in Mell Siff’s Supertraining actually showed that boxers who focused too much on strength had slower and less powerful punches.
There are a lot of ways you could integrate dynamic effort training into your workout program. Doing the above prescription of 10 sets x 2 reps with 50-60% of your 1RM works very well. Separate that workout by roughly 3 days from performing a version of the same exercise (or at least working the same body part) in a much more maximal fashion. If you followed a Westside Barbell inspired template, it might look like:
Another way to go about it could be to do an opposite DE lift immediately prior to a max effort workout. So on Monday, you could do DE squats or deadlifts, followed by an entire max effort bench workout. No other lower body lifts would be done that day. On Thursday or Friday, you’d reverse it by doing DE bench press prior to an entire max effort squat or deadlift workout.
Regardless of how your entire routine ends up looking, make sure your DE work is always done first. This ensures you have the most amount of energy, least amount of fatigue built up, and can put as much effort as possible into being as dynamic and explosive as you can.
If performance is at all a reason you train, consider adding dynamic elements to your program. You’ll generate more power, it’ll make you more athletic, and you’ll even get stronger. By lifting with the best mix of speed and weight used, you’ll guarantee the best of both worlds, getting more “bang” for your training “buck”. If you enjoyed this article, check out our write up on the types of strength training.