Reduced Load & Effort for Increased Results

One reason why my strength has improved is because I quit maxing out so often and quit taking every set to failure. If you train a lift once per week, then you can go all out. But if you train more frequently, then you have to be conservative.


I’ve found that one heavy session and one submaximal session per week per main lift provides a potent strength-building stimulus; a 1-2 punch if you will that maximizes results. The maximal stimulus packs the bigger punch, but the submaximal stimulus builds weak links, grooves technique, and adds volume/frequency without compromising recovery.

In the video below, I demonstrate the 3 submaximal methods that are utilized in 2 x 4: Maximum Strength, namely the super-strict method, the pause method, and the explosive (aka dynamic effort or compensatory acceleration training) method.

Think these methods are for sissies? Think again. Several of the world’s strongest lifters employ these methods with great success. Sometimes you get more with less.


  • Derrick Blanton says:

    Great stuff, BC! Even more than geeky biomechanical discussions, I love to see how grizzled veterans put their routines together. It’s like learning what toothpaste your dentist uses. (That was a weird analogy..)

    Anyway, 2×4 looks very exciting!

    Bret, what are your thoughts on power cleans, or semi-heavy swings as a form of DL “dynamic effort”? The same, but different? Or just different?

  • Swokewillow says:

    I don’t lose strength from maxing out every workout but my sprinting and jumping seems to take a hit. I was thinking of using a heavy and light day to keep my legs a bit fresher for track meets.

    • Patrick O'Flaherty says:


      I don’t know your age but at my current age, 52, I also have to modulate the demands of sprinting and leg training. I have found that 2 sprint sessions + 2 leg sessions per week is all I can handle without interfering with my sprint times.

      My main leg exercise used to be parallel barbell back squats but I could not sprint for 5 to 7 days later! So despite only doing 2 or 3 sets of 3 to 5 reps each, I replaced the squat with hex bar deadlifts for no more than 10 reps total for all sets and that allowed me to sprint in 2 to 3 days. Then I learned about the hip thrust from Bret, and said good bye to the deadlift. Now I can hip thrust heavy (10 total reps or less) plus some other supplementary lower body exercises like kneeling leg curls and hip extensions (formerly called hyperextensions) and sprint on consecutive days then take 1 or 2 days off and repeat.


  • glenn hankins says:

    Mr. O’Flaherty,
    It takes me 5 days to comfortably recover from deadlifting to perform sprint work. I deadlift in the 3-5 rep range. 135×5…155×5…175×5…205×5…225×4…235×3…245×3…255×3..
    210(5×5) 25 reps @ my working weight of 210, plus 33 reps to warm up = 58 total reps. You suggest 10 reps total. Can you show me your routine as I’ve done here? My volume appears way too high, perhaps I should reduce to 10 total reps and/or substitute hip thrusts in place of deads. If I understand your comment correctly, you are able to sprint the next day after a hip thrust workout? …that would be fantastic. LEGS ON MONDAY, SPRINTS ON TUESDAY, WED+THURS RECOVERY…..AND REPEAT!

  • David says:

    Could you combine two of these methods together, e.g. in the bench press lower the bar to the chest, pause for 3 seconds and then push the bar up with maximum speed and force (dynamic effort method)? Is that a good idea or would it be too much for a submaximal workout?

Leave a Reply


and receive my FREE Lower Body Progressions eBook!

You have Successfully Subscribed!