At some point in an athlete's training program, the weight on the bar becomes less important than how fast that weight is lifted. Believe it or not, there is such thing as "strong enough" for most athletes, and once that point is reached, athletes need to focus primarily on speed and explosiveness.
The Dynamic Effort Method (DEM) accomplishes this by teaching athletes to move weight with maximum velocity, which generates more power than moving heavy weight moved slowly. This article will show you how to get faster by using the DEM in your workouts.
What Is the Dynamic Effort Method?
The DEM is a method of strength training outlined by biomechanist Vladimir Zatsiorsky in Science and Practice of Strength Training. Basically, it means lifting a submaximal load (i.e., less than your 1-rep max) with maximal speed.
The DEM is widely used by powerlifters to build strength, but it can also be used by athletes to get faster. Heavy weights move too slow to generate maximum power, but extremely light weights are too light to demonstrate much force (for example, imagine trying to throw a whiffle ball 90 miles per hour—you can't because it's too light.) Moderate weights work best, which is why they're used during DE workouts.
Most DE workouts consist of 8-10 sets of 1-3 reps using a weight equal to 50-80 percent of your 1RM, with short rest periods (30-60 seconds).
The DEM builds two key athletic qualities than can take an athlete to the next level:
- Rate of Force Development (the ability to develop force quickly)
- Muscular endurance (the ability to resist fatigue)
Even though endurance is often associated with a high number of repetitions, when done correctly, the DEM develops endurance with many sets of low reps with short rest and maximal effort, forcing the lifter to perform at a high level with minimal recovery. This builds the exact type of endurance many athletes need: the ability to perform explosive movements over and over again without losing power.
Dynamic Effort Workouts
DEM workouts are performed twice per week, using compound barbell lifts such as the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. Other variations of these lifts can be used as well. Each workout focuses on either upper body or lower body, and should be followed 72 hours later with a heavier workout focusing on the same movement.
For example, if you performed a DEM Squat workout on Monday, you would perform a heavier Squat session on Thursday. Make sure to provide adequate rest in order to recover from these intense DEM training sessions.
DEM workouts also often use accommodating resistance in the form of bands or chains attached to the bar. These change the strength curve of the movement, meaning that rather than the lift being hardest at the bottom and easiest at lockout, the lift actually gets harder from start to finish. This forces the athlete to accelerate the weight as fast as possible.
Here's how to execute each lift with the DEM. Check out the video player above for a demonstration of the Dynamic Effort Deadlift.
- Unrack the bar and walk it out to your start position.
- Lower yourself quickly to the bottom of the squat position and explode back to lockout, using a slight bounce and driving your heels through the floor.
- Immediately start the next rep without rest at the top position.
- Unrack the bar and pull it down to your chest quickly, as if doing a Barbell Row.
- Without bouncing it off your chest, explosively press the bar back to lockout and immediately start the next rep.
- Don't rest between reps or pause the bar on the chest.
- Set up for the Deadlift and lift the bar off the floor as explosively as possible, driving your hips to lockout without hyperextending your back.
- Without pausing at the top, lower the bar back to the floor.
- Without pausing or bouncing, perform the next rep as explosively as the first.
- Always use good form, even if the weight feels light.
- Move the weight as fast as possible at all times—try to throw it through the ceiling.
- Use 50-80 percent of your 1RM – the weight shouldn't feel heavy.
- Do 1-3 reps per set and complete the set as fast as possible.
- Keep the rest periods short—30-60 seconds at most.
- Do 8-10 total sets, keeping the total reps under 24.
- Only add bands and/or chains if you can move 80 percent of your 1RM with good speed.
Sample Training Program Using the Dynamic Effort Method
Here's a sample six-week training program using the DEM twice per week. You'll train four days per week (two upper-body days, two lower-body days) and use the DEM three times—once each for the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift. Squats and Deadlifts are performed on the same day, with one lift using the DEM and the other with heavier weights.
|Week||Dynamic Effort Upper Body||Heavy Squat||Dynamic Effort Deadlift||Heavy Upper Body||Heavy Deadlift||Dynamic Effort Squat|
|1||8 sets x 3 reps at 60%||5 sets x 5 reps at 75%||8 sets x 2 reps at 60%||5 sets x 5 reps at 75%||5 sets x 3 reps at 75%||10 sets x 2 reps at 60%|
|2||8 sets x 3 reps at 65%||4 sets x 4 reps at 80%||8 sets x 2 reps at 65%||4 sets x 4 reps at 80%||4 sets x 3 reps at 80%||10 sets x 2 reps at 65%|
|3||8 sets x 3 reps at 70%||5 sets x 3 reps at 85%||10 sets x 1 rep at 70%||5 sets x 3 reps at 85%||5 sets x 2 reps at 85%||8 sets x 2 reps at 70%|
|4||8 sets x 3 reps at 50% + 40 lbs of chains||3 sets x 2 reps at 90%||8 sets x 2 reps at 50% + 2 Mini-Bands||3 sets x 2 reps at 90%||4 sets x 2 reps at 90%||10 sets x 2 reps at 50% + 40 lbs of chains|
|5||8 sets x 3 reps at 55% + 40 lbs of chains||3 sets x 1 rep at 95%||8 sets x 2 reps at 55% + 2 Mini-Bands||3 sets x 1 rep at 95%||3 sets x 1 rep at 95%||10 sets x 2 reps at 55% + 40 lbs of chains|
|6||8 sets x 3 reps at 60% + 40 lbs of chains||Rest||10 sets x 1 rep at 60% + 2 Mini-Bands||Rest||Rest||8 sets x 2 reps at 60% + 40 lbs of chains|
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