I have a good topic of the week post for you today. Let me catch you up to speed.

*Disclaimer – this article applies more so to powerlifters seeking strength gains (increased powerlifting totals), not so much athletes seeking gains in explosive power, though the data can be used to guide training either way.

Two days ago, freaky strong powerlifter Mike Tuscherer posted an article titled Why Speed Work Doesn’t WorkPlease read the article before continuing. Mike basically states that he feels that speed work (aka dynamic effort work, which involves performing lighter loads – usually between 50-60% of 1RM – as explosively as possible) is overrated because:

  1. Powerlifting is about force and technique, not power,
  2. Max effort lifts take time to build up maximal force,
  3. Maximal force is related to loads and cannot be achieved through submaximal training even if performed explosively, and
  4. Dynamic effort doesn’t improve technique as it involves a different motor pattern compared to maximal training.

Mike also mentions that he believes that dynamic effort training can improve performance via increased training frequency and hypertrophy, but still urges lifters to move away from dynamic effort work and begin using heavier loads on all training days.

In case you didn’t know, Louie Simmons from Westside Barbell Club popularized dynamic effort training based mostly on Russian texts including the work of Zatsiorsky. Yesterday, Tom Barry from Westside Barbell Club (Louie Simmons’ intern) provided a rebuttal HERE. As you can see in the comments section, emotions run pretty high on this topic.

Rather than take sides, I’d like to present some research to help clarify some points of contention in this debate.

Force Equals Mass Times Acceleration

In Physics, we know that F = MA.

With maximal loads, M is at it’s heaviest, but A is very small.

With submaximal loads, M is lighter, but A can be faster.

Let’s say a strong 275 pound powerlifter can squat 1,000 pounds, bench 800 pounds, or pull 900 pounds. Since acceleration would be nil during these maximal lifts, we can estimate the force by multiplying the mass of the lifter and the barbell (in kilograms) by gravity (which is 9.8 m/s^2). We could also just perform the lifts on a force plate which shows the vertical ground reaction forces (Newton’s laws state that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction). So this powerlifter squats a system-load of 1,275 pounds (body mass plus barbell mass) which comes to 578 kgs, which comes to 5,668 Newtons (578kgs x 9.8m/s^2).

The theory is that the lifter could use submaximal training to create just as much force by increasing acceleration. Let’s say the powerlifter used 600 pounds (60% of his 1RM), he could theoretically accelerate the load rapidly and therefore create the same 5,668 Newtons of force.

Let’s see what research says about this…

Zatsiorsky States that it Takes .4 Seconds for Muscles to Produce FMax

In The Science and Practice of Strength Training, Zatsiorsky uses a graph (see below) showing that maximum muscle force takes approximately four tenths of a second (.4 sec) to achieve (he mentions that this varies according to the lifter, with some taking .3 sec and others taking .5 sec). It’s worth mentioning that the graph and data wasn’t cited, so there’s no reference to check (though I don’t doubt Vlad’s data).

Max Iso Force

Based on this premise, it does not take much time for the muscles to produce maximum force. Sure, it shows that the muscles don’t have time to produce max force during sprinting or drop jumping, but it does imply that the muscles have sufficient time to produce max force during a dynamic effort lift (i.e. speed squat, speed bench, speed deadlift). For comparison purposes, ground contact times during sprinting can reach as low as .07 seconds at maximum speed (Tyson Gay in THIS paper), whereas maximum power lift grinders can easily last 5 seconds (Benedikt Magnusson’s WR deadlift appears to last 3 seconds, Donnie Thompson’s WR squat appears to last 7 seconds, and Ryan Kennelly’s WR bench appears to last 8 seconds), one study by Escamilla showed that max deadlifts took a around 4 seconds to complete.

However, it appears that this data pertains to single joint movements, which may not apply to compound movements. Let’s see below what happens during a compound movement…

Max Force During a Mid-Thigh Pull is Reached in Under .3 Seconds

Kawamori et al. published a study seven years ago titled Peak force and rate of force development during isometric and dynamic mid-thigh clean pulls performed at various intensities which included a detailed chart of the peak force and peak rate of force development data for isometric and dynamic mid-thigh pulls (sort of like a rack pull but the knees are more involved).

Peak Force, Power, RFD

As you can see, it only takes the muscles .256 seconds to produce peak force during isometric mid-thigh pulls, and with dynamic pulls it takes .277 seconds, .255 seconds, .205 seconds, and .152 seconds to produce peak force with loads corresponding to 120%, 90%, 60%, and 30% of 1RM power clean loads, respectively. What’s interesting is that peak force is reached more quickly during all mid-thigh pull variations compared to static and countermovement jumps, which took .324 seconds and .397 seconds, respectively.

There are a few more things worthy of mention in this study. Peak force was maximized during the isometric mid-thigh pull, peak rate of force development was maximized during the dynamic mid-thigh pull with 30% of 1RM power clean load, and peak power was maximized during the countermovement jump.

However, these data are not quite specific to powerlifting, so let’s see what the happens during actual deadlifting…

Max Force is Not Indeed Reached Through Dynamic Effort Training

Swinton et al. published an excellent study two years ago titled A biomechanical analysis of straight and hexagonal barbell deadlifts using submaximal loads which included a detailed chart of the load-force, load-velocity, and load-power relationships. Subjects were 19 males powerlifters with an average body weight of 252 pounds and an average max deadlift of 538 pounds. Whether this research applies to top powerlifters especially those well-versed in dynamic effort training remains to be seen, but for now this is what we have to go by.

Deadlift Load-Force, Velocity, and Power Relationships

There are some interesting things we can see here. First, it appears that maximum force indeed cannot be reached with the dynamic effort method. Force creeps higher and higher as loads increase, indicating that the increases in acceleration with dynamic effort training cannot compensate for the reductions in mass. Second, velocity decreases as loads increase (duh!), but this is important because velocity decreases by a greater factor than force, leading to my next point. Third, since power equals force times velocity (P = FV), you can see that the product that leads to the highest power outputs is 30-40% of 1RM loading.

Therefore, if using dynamic effort training during the deadlift for the purpose of maximizing power output, then loads of 30-40% of 1RM should be utilized.

Max Effort vs. Dynamic Effort vs. Submaximal Effort Shy of Failure

Here is a chart showing pros and cons of various loads and methods. Some of it is factual, while some of it is highly speculative.

Everyone knows that maximal effort (maxing out) is critical for powerlifting success. However, as to which method should be used to increase training frequency – the dynamic effort method, or simply lifting heavier with normal temp but staying away from maximal loads or going to failure – is up for debate.

In fact, it’s time that this method is named in the strength training community as it has plenty of merit. Simply busting out a few singles or doubles that you could lift for 5-10 reps if need-be while really honing in on technique. Maybe, the submaximal intensity technique method or something along those lines? At any rate, here is a chart that can be used to make decisions about training loads:

Loads

I hope you enjoyed the article! And if you like this sort of thing, consider subscribing to our Strength & Conditioning Research Review where you can receive scientific information on strength training like this every month.

Based on the above material, what sayeth you? Is dynamic effort the bomb, or could lifters see even better results going with heavier loads?

Stay strong, BC

59 Comments

  • Sebastian says:

    great read as always, but could you fix some of the links?

    cheers

  • Dave Hedges says:

    Good work.
    I guess with powerlifting being so specific it’s a hot debate, but in the athletic world, the evidence suggests dynamic work is legit. At least that’s what I see with my guys who would be combat athletes or kettlebell sports athletes. We always keep an eye on bar speed as power production is key.

  • Rob says:

    Hey Bret,

    Great post. Love reading your work because of your scientific approach. Referencing everything etc. Makes a nice short break from uni work. Also nice surprise to see one of my lecturers study’s used! (Swinton et al.).

    Looking forward to reading many more like this.

    Cheers

    Rob

    • Bret says:

      Rob, Swinton is one of my favorites! You’re a lucky guy to have him as a professor!

      • Joe Blow says:

        First, MT is a strong guy. Stronger than me, but he’s been at it longer. So I give respect there. Also Bret, I’m sure you’re a beast too. Second, I’m a nerd above and beyond all of y’all. I guarantee it. I’m steeped in mathematics as it is my career. I also powerlift. I think it’s funny how the marginal guys all try to discount proven winners. I’d give more creedence to your argument or “science” (ps anyone can use excel to make graphs, but good job) if the author was the biggest strongest dude on the planet. But you’re not. Neither is MT. I mean you guys are big but c’mon, nothing close to the likes of the monsters that come out of WSBB. So go ahead, disseminate this garbage to those intermediate weekend warriors who don’t see results and need some justification. But for those of us that do this day in and day out, and could launch guys like MT and you to the moon with explosive force….this just makes me angry.

        • Joshua Naterman says:

          You do, of course, realize that comparing what works for a gym full of people taking “super supplements” (steroids) to what works for natural lifters is not exactly a comparison that leads to meaningful knowledge for those of us lifting naturally, right? WSBB is, without a doubt, the top powerlifting gym in existence. What Louie Simmons does is working for them.

          However, assuming that the claims that MT makes about being natural are legit, it is fair to say that what works for most of the WSBB lifters is not going to work the best for someone lifting drug free like MT, or me.

          There’s no doubt that the dynamic lifting makes an indispensible difference for athletes who do more than just powerlifting, and personally I think it may be good for joint health as well (based on research suggesting that lighter squat loads help regenerate cartilage), but without identical twin studies it’s pretty much impossible to say for sure what works better for achieving the absolute best Powerlifting total. What we do know is that MT totals over 2000 lbs, and there are only a handful of people on the planet that can do that, with several being at WSBB. It is fair to say that either route can take you so close to your peak strength potential that unless you’re actually trying to set a record it really doesn’t matter which one is the “best” because both paths will take you up into “rare air” territory.

          Personally, I have used each of these approaches but these days there is always some dynamic work. As a guy who has always been an all-around athlete, rate of force development is much more important than absolute raw peak force production, so even if MT’s method is better for stepping onto a PL platform and performing I will always have the explosive, maximal acceleration lifts as a part of my program. It’s all about knowing what your goals are, and mine require more than just slow lifts.

        • Alex Schindler says:

          Is this intended to be ironic? MT is a world record holder. His drug tested deadlift with stiff usapl bars was 819 at 264. And he’s coached other world record setters and breakers.

          He is every bit as bro-credentialed as wsbb folks

  • Michael says:

    Great Post Brett,

    You may be interest if you haven’t already read this article on training load for the development of muscular power! What I took from it is that it’s important to train at, below and above the optimal load for improving power as they all have positive effects, due to all the research suggesting that the optimal load for power is not conclusive from the research to date.

    http://www.setantacollege.com/wp-content/uploads/Journal_db/THE%20OPTIMAL%20TRAINING%20LOAD%20FOR%20THE%20DEVELOPMENT%20OF%20MUSCULAR%20POWER.pdf

    • Rob Panariello says:

      Michael,

      I agree with your comment as unlike the sport of powerlifting more “traditional” types of sports are more dependent upon the combination of maximal strength, explosive strength, and reactive strength efforts. The best athletes are those that can apply the greatest amount of force into the ground surface area in the shortest period of time. Therefore very often a maximal strength effort alone is not enough to succeed upon the field of play. An athlete will never know when the situation will arise where he/she will have to either (a) produce a strength effort (power) to avoid an opponent (deal with just their own body weight) or produce a strength effort (power) with the addition of a heavy load (i.e. breaking free of the opponents grasp/tackle) place upon them.

      Just my opinion

      Rob Panariello

    • Bret says:

      Michael, I thought I had every good article on power over the past decade, but for some reason I didn’t have this one. Thank you for linking it! Kawamori is an excellent researcher and from skimming this it looks like a great article!

      I’ve seen other articles on the optimal load for power and while there is certainly good evidence, I’m sure that using a combined approach is always superior (light, medium, and heavy loads). Thanks again bud!!!

  • Very useful data/info for us in College. This information is very pertinent to team sports. I can tell you that I haven’t spent too much time in the sub 50% range in the past 6 years if any, but after reading this, you’ve got the gears turning in my head on ways to plug it in because I can now see a more visible benefit. Preciate ya B.

  • Shawn says:

    I find it interesting that nobody has mentioned the key to Louie’s DE days….accomodating resistance. Mike mentioned 85% being necessary, which I can’t disagree with but being overlooked are the actual numbers/percentages used at westside.

    DE Lower:
    Box Squat 50,55,60% + 25% AR
    12×2, 30sec rest
    Speed pulls 40,45,50% + 40% AR
    8×1, 30 sec rest
    Bench Press 40,45,50% + 40% AR
    9×3, 30 sec rest

    So the top end is at or above 85% on wave 3

    I’m curious to how that changes this debate.

    • Bret says:

      This does change the debate, and I should actually have included that as a separate category in my chart at the bottom. Good call!

    • Michael Carroll says:

      Really like your stuff Brett but was disappointed the use of bands wasn’t touched on as they are so key in DE at Westside from reading Louies stuff. Eccentrics occurring at much faster velocites, more kinetic energy, greater need for reversal strength, how heavy that bar weight will actually be at the different points of the lift.

  • Anthony Z. says:

    Hi Bret,
    Thank You for doing the math and physics for us. I’ve known from school how mass, acceleration, and velocity could be used to find the dynamic force, work, and power, but I never looked for the research to put it all together.
    Frankly, I was intimidated by the dynamics of the problem. Mass is a constant, but I was too worried about adding the leg and thigh weight to the equation. Not to mention, the lever arms that would increase torque around the joint. Also, I don’t have any way of measuring velocity let alone the accuracy and efficiency of measuring distance for each rep.
    The point is, this information is only useful if it is standardized. I’m talking, measuring lever arm length and weight, distance traveled, and velocity with standard procedures. Maybe frequency would be a better way to measure velocity for the lighter weight higher rep lifts. As long as the person travels the same distance every time, the average velocity can be measured from average frequency.
    For heavier lifts, up and down rep duration must be measured to find the average work, power and force for the up rep as well as the down rep.
    I would like to propose a workout idea regarding the down rep, but it isn’t easy.
    I will make another post regarding that idea.
    Thank You for your work,
    Anthony Zahm

    • Bret says:

      Agree Anthony – so many factors as you’ve mentioned. Could look at velocities, force, acceleration, work, impulse, power, RFD, etc. for geared vs. raw lifts, eccentric and concentric components, etc. Could look at joint moments and joint powers, etc. So much data makes the science intimidating, but a blend of anecdotal and scientific knowledge is always the way to go.

      • Anthony Z. says:

        Thanks Bret,
        I know you love the data, science, and anecdotal evidence – as per the pictures you graciously share. 🙂

    • Anthony Z. says:

      Hi again Bret,
      I would like to elaborate on the science of the down rep or the transfer of weight from a position of high potential energy to a position of lower potential energy by the use of gravity either directly or indirectly through levers and pulleys.
      Please take my ideas as hypothetical, and please allow it to enlighten you in a different area of research.
      The down rep must be taken into consideration when comparing light weight/high rep and heavy weight/low rep lifting situations.
      A concept must be understood. The down rep weight can nearly be twice the up rep weight. Basically, the muscle is better able to handle heavier weight on the down rep.
      The lighter weight lifts virtually have no effect on the muscles during the down rep. The muscle fibers must elongate rapidly under little force, which is a reverse reaction compared to contraction when little force is applied – % of fibers that expend nutrients in order to elongate should be comparable to the tension of the muscle fibers. Maybe you could figure out if that is true – since I am by no means an expert.
      The heavier weights obviously apply enough force to the muscle fibers to elongate them without expenditure of nutrients. Muscle fibers stretch when under tension, but when creating as much as twice the tension when lifting the weight, and elongating the muscle fibers at the same time, the muscle fibers stretch at every point in the movement and not just at the elongated position.
      This type of stretching, called resistance stretching, will shorten the contracted length of the muscle fibers.
      If you have a hard time understanding what I’ve written, then see Bob Cooley’s work.
      http://www.thegeniusofflexibility.com/
      http://www.flexiblestrength.com/

      I would like to know if strength is directly related to the tension on the down rep.
      The only problem with this method is the extra work of lifting twice the weight a person can handle before doing the down rep. Definitely not a one or two person job.

      Anthony Zahm

      • Bret says:

        Hi Anthony, I have tons of research on eccentrics (down rep as you say), flexibility, strength, etc. I think one is usually 30% stronger during eccentrics, but this depends on the lift. In research, you’ll see 30% differences, however, as a trainer, many lifters struggle to control 105% loads (there is great variability between lifters in this regard, and it depends on the lift as chins, bench, curls, squats, deads, etc. will all be slightly different in max eccentric loads). Speed obviously matters too, anyone could lower a 1000 pound deadlift – just drop the weight and keep your hands on the bar. Doesn’t mean that you’re controlling it though or that the muscles are doing much work. Owing to the force-velocity curve, eccentric contractions are actually stronger with greater speeds. Furthermore, the filament titin delivers huge passive force when stretched during an eccentric contraction. – BC

        • Rob Panariello says:

          Anthony,

          I commend you on your thought process. A training technique that may correlate (and has been around for years) to your post is as follows. Years ago when studying in the former USSR I was first introduced to “weight hooks” that could be placed upon a bar and loaded with weight. At the bottom of the eccentric portion of the exercise repetition the “hooks” would hit the ground and release the extra weight leaving a lighter weight upon the bar to perform the “work set”. The theory behind this exercise technique was to recruit the difficult type IIb fast twitch muscle fibers via the slow heavy (tension) initial eccentric rep/contraction, and once these muscle fibers were now “recruited” so to speak, they would contribute to the subsequent performance of the higher velocity lighter intensity “work set”. Eventually this concept was available in the USA. As Bret stated the total (safe) weight placed upon the bar (including the weights placed upon the hooks) would be approximately 105% of the athlete’s 1 RM max.

          Another example occurred when Johnny Parker and I visited our friend, then NFL Denver Bronco S&C Al Miller in Denver as Al had brought in (at the time) USA Head Weightlifting Coach Dragomir Ciorosian. Dragomir mentioned something similar to the above mentioned training concept. He stated to load a bar with 90% – 95% the athlete’s 1RM, perform a single rep and then immediately move to a different rack with a bar of a lighter weight to complete your work set.

          Rob

          • Anthony Z. says:

            Hi Rob,
            What you wrote made me realize that I really didn’t fully grasp why someone would do 1 heavy rep followed by a lighter weight set. I knew that it would make the set seem easier.
            So the method is very simple. Do an initial eccentric contraction with heavy weight. Quickly decrease the weight and carry on with the concentric contraction. Now think about this. Squats, bench presses, good mornings, and other lifts that start with the eccentric contraction of the targeted muscles must have a greater effect than if it were done in reverse? Would deadlifts, weighted hip extensions, and other related lifts that start with concentric contractions benefit more if they started as eccentric contractions?
            Wouldn’t the actin benefit greatly if the transition from eccentricity to concentricity were smooth? The mere fact that high tension eccentric stretching allows the muscle fibers to shorten when maximally contracted, and increase in flexibility with greater control along the entire range of motion are all positive outcomes that only lend to support the idea I previously mentioned.
            Is there research to prove this? Maybe more people should be focusing on eccentric weight lifting for their needs. As I said before, it takes more people to do heavy eccentric lifting than the typical concentric lift. How can we get around this?
            I imagine that an antigravity machine might help with the concentric part of the lift. Haha
            Anthony
            P.S. here is an interesting article: http://www.charlespoliquin.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/923/Ten_Things_You_MUST_Know_About_Eccentric_Training_.aspx

  • Bryan says:

    Bret,

    Great article. Thanks for digging into topics like this. The chart near the end is worth the read!

    Bryan

  • Frankwa says:

    Thanks for this great post! Those graph things + your analysis wre very interesting.
    Printed and bookmarked! 🙂

  • Matibu says:

    One thing I see is that no study tested the dynamic method using acommodating resistance, it would have been great that in “A biomechanical analysis of straight and hexagonal barbell deadlifts using submaximal loads”. Westside always states that acommodating resistance is the key of the dynamic method the way they do it.
    I would like to see someone test it that way.
    Anyway great article Bret

  • Nate Rogers says:

    Based on research that shows repeatedly that higher volume and multiple sets lead to maximal gains in strength and muscles mass I would lean towards the method that would allow you to do so safely and most affectively be that through dynamic effort/correspondence or as you termed it the sub-maximal intensity technique method. However that doesnt mean that either or is better than the other. Each has there place in a training program and will be dependant on the type of athlete, the type of adaptations we are trying to achieve and the time of year or time of season within the sport.

  • Andrew Serrano says:

    I felt that the original article failed to demonstrate how people that are strong actually use the dynamic method. As matibu stated, accommodating resistance is a big component in the west side method although I have had success using dynamic work without bands. The other thing is that no one strong uses dynamic efforts alone, there’s a dynamic day and a max effort day, they go together. Now if you were going to use only one method I think maximal effort would win everytime, but I think speed work will improve motor unit recruitment and RFD, as well as just teaching how to explode out of a lift, and I don’t see how that wouldn’t carryover to the heavier stuff. I’ll keep on training both, I don’t believe in grinding out heavy loads all the time.

    • Bret says:

      Very nicely put – you can’t look at one method in isolation when it’s the combination of exercises, techniques, and methods that you must examine. So ME plus DE (plus RE) has been shown to work very well for thousands of powerlifters, especially equipped ones. However, would SIT (submaximal intensity technique) work be be a suitable replacement for DE with many lifters, including raw ones? Great conversation!

      • Andrew Serrano says:

        Yes! I absolutely think so. I compete raw so just to give you my take on it, when I do DE days, if I use bands at all it’s usually a mini band for bench and and average band for deads and squats, so not much band resistance at all and I use no more than say 70% of 1RM. So where as a geared lifter would normally use bands to simulate the feel of the suit, where the lift gets heavier throughout the concentric ending up at 95% of 1RM at the top, I use just enough band tension to get rid of upward momentum so I can start the next eccentric quickly. And to your comment on SIT. I use this approach on my warm up sets. Example; if I’m working up to a 350 bench for the day I might have 3 warmup sets at 135. 1 set is done will be done with a 3311 tempo holding tension throughout the body during the pause. One set might be 3311 with the body completely disengaged for the pause. Then one set with maybe a a slightly higher rep scheme with a 3030 tempo, then I’d go into the working sets and I warm up that way whether its a DE or ME day. Just my take.

  • Daniel says:

    One thing you mentioned about DELs was it causes deceleration. The explaination I have received about deceleration is basically it is a reflex reaction designed to keep lifting heavy weights from ¨pulling your arms out of thier sockets¨I am sure there is a scientific term used to describe this phenomona I just cant recall the name. Overcoming this relflex reaction is a key to increasing power. If DELs facilitate this reflex reaction would not this be counter productive.

    • Bret says:

      Not true – Frost describes this very well in this article: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20364875

      Let’s say you’re a 450lb bencher using 255lbs for speed work. You’ll explode off the bottom but at around half-way through you’ll necessarily decelerate the lift so it comes to a halt. This is different than actively decelerating a load with muscle force, for example a plyometric landing or catching a power clean. Therefore, you end up strengthening the bottom ROM of the lift and building power in that range, but not producing a training effect for the top portion of the lift. If you also did floor presses though, then this would compensate for that.

      Interestingly, the study I mentioned in the article by Swinton showed that heavier deadlifts (I think the 80% loads) were in fact accelerated through 85% of the ROM, so only the last 15% of the ROM was slowed down.

      Lots of considerations!

  • Rob Panariello says:

    Daniel,

    Are you referring to the role of the Golgi Tendon Organs?

    Rob

  • Anna says:

    Great article – it’s good to see it all layed out like that. I have to say, all methods work, generally speaking. It’s really up to each individual which method works best for them without injury.

  • Jacques Chester says:

    Third, since power equals force times velocity (P = FV)

    Any reason for using this version instead of the more common P=W/t?

  • DFoltz says:

    Well, yeah, in well designed exercises like the deadlift/squat/benchpress(*1), force production will fall if you speed up the rep. We’ve known this for, like, ever. You can do it with an electrode and a frog leg.

    Has anyone actually disputed this?

    I’m sure someone has done an analysis like the following before, but I’m not that familiar with the literature and don’t see what I’m overlooking.

    The way that I’m looking at it, if:
    *DE, either as: rate-of-force-development practice, improves the ability to generate maximal force quickly; or as speed practice, improves the ability to apply force against moving objects.
    *There’s a sticking point in the exercise – that is, if the lift has an easy part followed by a hard part (on the concentric). Or, to phrase it differently, if there’s a particular kind of mismatch between the ability of the muscles to apply force, and the force demanded by the exercise to maintain constant bar speed.
    *The ability to move through the sticking point determines the ability to complete the lift.
    *Kinetic energy exists.

    Then there will be a slight benefit from DET.

    Using very rough numbers from Ryan Kennel’s video, his concentric takes maybe 3 seconds: a 0.25m off-the-chest phase which takes a second, a 1 second sticking point, defined as the region where the bar speed starts to drop again, which is maybe 0.1m long, and then the 1 second finish.

    By energy analysis of the sticking point, he arrives with at least 0.25m/1s = 0.25m/s = 0.03 J/kg. Applied over the length of the sticking point, this kinetic energy makes the sticking point 0.3 N easier (*2): by pushing extra hard during the first part of the exercise, he stored up energy in the barbell and thus made the second part 3% easier.

    The implication is that, because he could develop force quickly, he could push harder than necessary during the first part, storing up energy, and thus enabling him to move more weight. Just a little bit, like the difference between 1075# and 1045#

    Of course, if ROFD can’t be trained (don’t tell the people doing powercleans!) or if you’d be better off using the volume for MET rather than DET, then it would be best not to use DET, but that’s an entirely different argument than what you’ve laid out in your post.

    (*1: A while ago, everyone was talking about an analysis of the lateral raise where higher rep speed was shown to increase maximum force development. I suppose the torque curve of the muscle is very poorly matched to the torque curve of the exercise…)

    (*2: Or, by momentum analysis, he arrives with at least 0.25m/1s = 0.25m/s = 2.5% of the momentum (9.8m/s) required during the 1 second long sticking point. 3% != 2.5% because I rounded like a bandit and did all the math mentally)

  • EctoJosh says:

    Hi Bret,

    First, just let me say, I really like your work. You’re definitely one of my go-to guys for weight training info, and your T-Nation articles in particular are awesome. Keep up the great work.
    Reading this, I had a question. The chart you posted at the bottom suggest that max effort lifts (which I guess would correspond to 1-3 reps) maximize hypertrophy. Could you point me to the research on this? This would seem to go against the conventional lifting wisdom, which of course suggests that training in very low rep ranges is great for max strength, but does relatively little for hypertrophy. (And of course, bodybuilders don’t do much max effort work.) I’d be curious to hear your overall thoughts on this. Thanks!

    • Bret says:

      Ugh, that’s not what I intended it to mean. What I meant was that out of the 3 methods on the chart, maximal effort would be the best for hypertrophy. Not that the 1-3 rep range is better than medium or higher rep ranges for hypertrophy. My buddy Brad Schoenfeld will actually be looking at this topic for his PhD, so we’ll know more about this down the road. I would say that medium rep ranges are best for hypertrophy (6-8) if I had to choose, but some experts feel that 1-5 are best and other experts feel that high reps (10-20) are best. Time will tell. Thanks for requesting clarification, I should have explained that better in the article.

  • Vlad Padina says:

    Hey Bret,

    Great article!
    But, from the deadlift force production at different % 1RM, I take away the fact that lifting as-fast-as-possible at anything between 50 and 80% produces pretty much the same amount of force…

    Which should imply that if you’re strapped for weights (gym is full), or tired, training “speed” @50% will still bring about similar improvements as training with ~80% 1RM.

    Also, I presume, of all powerlifts the DL “requires” the least deceleration at the top?

  • Vlad Padina says:

    The question was whether you think my conclusions are any good. 🙂

    Thanks for the great material you publish.

  • Vlad Padina says:

    correct/plausible*, not good

  • Joe says:

    What most people – including me for a long time – don’t seem to realise (and this is partly Simmons’ fault but also has been lost in translation by others) is that the percentages in terms of what actual lift you’re doing are higher, and are actually based on how the Russians trained for the Olympic lifts as per Zatsiorsky. So for instance, your percentages for box squats might be 50%, 55%, 60% of a CONTEST squat, but in reality Simmons recommends “using weights based on a box squat max, use 75%, 80% and 85%” (Book of Methods, page 80), which at 2 reps per set roughly matches the protocols on the snatch and C&J in the research cited by Zatsiorky and brings things much closer to Sheiko. Whether this is really ‘dynamic’ training or just near-maximal or submaximal strength training is questionable.

  • Alan S says:

    Really good article Bret as usual! The recommended percentages on DE days obviously vary depending on the lifter as bar speed is the most important concept (unless you have the good fortune of owning a Tendo!) BUT Louie’s general recommendations are 50,55,60% plus 25% band tension leading to 75,80,85% at the top. (Id love to see some studies done involving these concepts changes) This enables them to actually train different elements of the strength curve in the same lift. If you’ve ever hit ten doubles with 85% on the bar as explosively as possible with 60secs or less between sets it sure ain’t light! Band tension also creates faster eccentrics, which lead to a faster concentric. Volume and Intensity are key here too as Maxing out more than 2 days per week for those guys has proven too much. As well as the previous benefits this allows lifters to get more volume and technique work in without burning them out. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information about the Westside approach but it boils down to this simply (from Louie himself):
    ‘If you have a strong lifter, improve their RFD. If you have a fast lifter improve their Absolute Strength.’ Simple but spot on.

  • AJ Droyd says:

    I followed WS program for years. All my special exercises went up, and that was all. The claim is that WS can be utilized even as s raw lifter. No it can’t, not without major tweaking, but then that’s not a WS product anymore. Today’s world of geared lifting is a joke! What are “YOU” actually lifting???? Take away the Goodyear radial retread quadra-ply 200+ lb carryover shirts and (“everything else”) and you’re not left with much, are ya :). Josh Bryant and Others have already shown what’s available for people who ACTUALLY want to do the lifting.

  • Brandon Green says:

    Hello

    This comment is “Johnny come lately” but i feel i can contribute.
    John Smith(The Thinker) as well as others have used what is called SE or
    the “Sub maximal effort method” to significant gains. a Modified PTP
    also seems to work well. I find that below 70% does not contribute to
    gains in lifts such as bench press or squats. If 70% i find i have to use
    a 4-6 X 4-6 method.

  • H1957 says:

    I apologize for commenting so late on this interesting discussion. I believe Tillin’s paper (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22308164) addressed some of the relevant questions.

    In this investigion, ballistic/dynamic training over 4 weeks resulted in an increase in maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) at each time point (50 msec, 100 msec, 150 msec), compared with control (the contralateral leg).

    Althought the increase in voluntary force at 100 msec and 150 msec paralleled the increase in MVC, the increase in voluntary force at 50 msec increased 37%, even when normalized for MVC.

    Ballsitic training may increase MVC directly by enhancing neural drive (Tillin study) and indirectly by
    improving lifting “economy” (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10233114) and work capacity.

    When combined with elastic bands or chains (the “dynamic method”), ballistic training may provide the additional benefits of ecccentric overload and variable resistance.

    In a later study, Tillin et al (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24292019) attempted to answer the “good, better, best” question by comparing the effects of short-term maximal (MST) vs. explosive (EST) strength training on maximal and explosive force production. As expected, MST training resulting in a greater improvement in MVC, whereas EST training resulted in greater improvements in early force production (50 msec and 100 msec).

    The invesigators concluded: “These results provide evidence for distinct neuromuscular adaptations after MST vs. EST that are specific to the training stimulus, and demonstrate the independent adaptability of maximal and explosive strength”.

    It would appear reasonable, then, to focus for the most part on the maximal stength method. The combination of maximal and explosive/dynamic training (“conjugate method”), hoping for synergy, presents an interesting alternative with some support in the literature:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22727979
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296966
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21244105

  • H1957 says:

    Sorry, this was omitted-

    There was an increase in voluntary F50 (+54%), F100 (+15%) and
    F150 (+14%) and in octet F50 (+7%) and F100 (+10%). Voluntary F100 and F150, and octet
    F50 and F100 increased proportionally with MVF (+11%). However, the increase in voluntary
    F50 was +37% even after normalization to MVF, and coincided with a 42% increase in both
    voluntary/octet force and agonist-normalized EMG over the first 50 ms

  • Gisondi says:

    as far as Mark Tuscherer’s macho mentality? it doesn’t go far in the technique category, never did…

  • Darren Wilson says:

    This entire field is full of nonsense. Posting fancy grapjhs does not add credibility, that is what fraudsters do.

  • J.T. Kelleher says:

    Disclaimer: I definitely sip the Louie Simmons/ westside koolaid. Biology degree-d recreational powerlifter

    Appreciate the article! Felt fair and balanced, and more importantly came to the conclusion that I agree with.

    I think the main part of this argument that might be getting left out, is in my understanding the MAIN advantage of dynamic work is the decreased recovery needs (I guess we could say on the nervous system). Whatever volume pushes your limits with 50% 1RM at maximal acceleration, would kick your ass if at all possible at 90% 1RM.

    For example, for 450lbs 1RM:

    Typical Dynamic day compound reps:
    30 meters(reps)*0.8m/s*300lbs = 7200lbs m^2/s (units of work, assuming 1m from floor to lockout)

    Equivalent work with 90%1rm:
    0.8m/s*300lbs is 240lbs*m/s of force. Lets assume that you can make 275lbs*m/s of force at 90% 1RM, which is an estimate based on the the last graph.
    This is about 0.68m/s (which may or not be achievable, but we’ll assume it is to give benefit of doubt against dynamic work)
    7200/(0.3m/s)/405lbs= about 26 meters(or reps) (again).

    So in other words based on rough estimates of bar speed at various % 1RM, based on the data above. Doing 7200lbs meters^2/s
    with either 300lbs or 405lbs, would involve a discrepancy of 4 reps less for the heavier weight. In my experience 0.68m/s at 90% is much harder to maintain over sets than 0.8m/s at 70-75%. And the lower weights minimize spine compression/neural fatigue.

    TLDR:
    If you do heavy weights, it is unlikely that you will get as much work in, and if you do it will kick your ass way more than the equivalent work with a lighter weight.

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