Improve Athletic Performance with Dynamic Effort Training By Tom Wright

Dynamic Effort Training is a method whereby an athlete looks to increase his/her power by performing sub-maximal weights, quickly. Documented by Dr. Vladimir Zatsiorsky, the Dynamic Effort method states that an athlete should perform 1-4 reps at a weight of 30-70% of their max as fast as possible to increase their speed and power.

Dynamic Effort training is used by strength coaches and athletes worldwide and by a vast number of powerlifters thanks largely to Westside Barbell’s Louie Simmons, and subsequent training methods like The Cube.

We are going to look at how it works, who it is useful for, and how to apply it to your training program. For the purpose of this article we will focus solely on athletes and not powerlifters, as the requirements for each are different.

To create power we need to create force. As we know from our school days Force = Mass x Acceleration. Moving our max weight would be very slow, so there would be little acceleration, and a light weight would require very little force. In studies by Swinton et Al, on sub-maximal hexagonal barbell deadlifts they found that maximum power was found to be at 30-40% of subjects max, as opposed to 70% as previously thought.

Resistance training for athletes is different to that of powerlifters where the goal is to perform the movement for the sake of the movement. Athletes use weightlifting for general physical preparedness for their sport. Squatting is used for speed, tackling, driving opponents backwards, not just to have a heavy squat. This gives us quite a lot of scope for using different loads and intensities in training. We can use both Dynamic Effort and Maximal Effort in our training protocols.

So what does that mean for athletes looking to increase power?

Though maximal loads will be best for strength and creating force, there is no reason we can’t do both. It seems that Dynamic Effort will indeed improve speed and power if implemented as part of a strength training program.

How do we implement this in our program?

There are a few ways we can include these in our sessions:

1) Dynamic Days

At the start of the week when the central nervous system is fresh would be the best day to include speed sets. Use a full body session to work on power. Perform 4-8 sets of 1-4 reps at 30-70% of max. The aim of the session is not to move more weight, but to move the weight with intent.

2) Build Up Sets

Whist working up to your max on a lift, perform a few extra sets at 40-50% of max, making sure to focus on bar speed on the concentric part of the movement. Then you can continue up to your maximal load sets. The same can be done with backdown sets where you perform 2-3 sets at 70% after your strength work.

3) Ballistic Work

Another popular way to improve poe is through ballistics such as throwing and jumping. This low impact style of training uses speed to move a low weight or bodyweight explosively. These are best used at the start of the session or straight after lifting a heavy weight, known as contrast training.

If you are looking to improve your performance on the field then try adding some Dynamic Effort Training in to your program.

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