Maximum Effort vs. Dynamic Effort

In previous blogs, we introduced the training programming utilized at Telos: the conjugate training method. Every Monday and Friday we perform maximum effort lifts for the lower and upper body, respectively. These max effort lifts range from 3 to 5 rep maxes. Occasionally, we perform a 1 repetition max to test out the progress made in the strength realm. This is done every few months. Our goal is to make our members stronger and functional for everyday life. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we perform dynamic effort work. These exercises are less in load, but require a faster rate of movement which helps build speed and muscular endurance. 

What exactly are maximum effort lifts? What are dynamic effort lifts? Why is it beneficial to do both? Let’s dive in and see!

Maximum Effort: high intensity, slow speed

Maximum effort lifts are essential for neurological improvements– intermuscular and intramuscular. There will be adaptations to the central nervous system and movement patterns. This method of training is essential and most effective for strength gains. 

Maximum effort lifts tend to be slower in speed. Think about your experience bench pressing heavy weight. As it gets heavier, the bar moves at a slower speed and you may even reach a “sticking point” during the movement when you  are close to your maximum effort. 

You may be thinking: If maximum effort is the best technique for strength training, then why don’t we do it everyday?  Performing lifts at such heavy loads is fun and all, but there can be negative side-effects from lifting heavy too often, often associated with overtraining:

  • Extended recovery times

  • Decrease in performance

  • Hormonal disturbance

  • Altered immune function and hormone concentration

  • Extreme fatigue

  • High Blood Pressure & increased heart rate

  • Joint discomfort

  • High risk of injury

To prevent reaching any level of overtraining, we introduce dynamic effort training into the program. We perform dynamic effort at least 72 hours before/after the max effort attempts. For example, if we did max effort lower body on Monday, then the next day we will do lower body is 3 days later (Thursday) and it will be dynamic effort work. 

Dynamic Effort: submaximal weight, fast speed

Dynamic effort is also referred to as speed-strength work. In this style of training, the lifter lifts with an intermediate velocity using loads of 75-85% of their 1-rep max. This helps promote high-threshold motor units and facilitates rate of force development (RFD). Basically, it helps recruit the muscles responsible for lifting weight at a fast speed. 

While max effort builds absolute strength, which is the foundational piece of strength training, the dynamic effort training is supplemented so that one can recruit their strength more quickly. This will allow for an improvement in “usable strength” leading to more explosiveness. Explosiveness is related to the generation of power, which is:

Power= Force * Velocity=Force * Distance/Time

Based on the equation above, power and velocity are directly proportional– the faster you can lift the weight then the more power there is. 

When you’re in class and the workout calls for a 4×10 bench press at 65%, it will probably feel light. Don’t be hyper focused on the weight and feel a need to add more, instead focus on the speed and explosiveness of the lift. 

The Conjugate Method

The Conjugate Method is a training philosophy popularized by powerlifting coach Louie Simmons of WestSide Barbell. He developed this method after experiencing back injuries in his powerlifting career, after training heavy too often. After his injury, he read about successful training methods from strength coaches and combined the following systems to create the Conjugate Method:

  • Soviet system: several special exercises are used to advance the training 

  • Bulgarian system: near-max lifts are performed every workout

This training method is focused a lot on science, such as power, force development, and mechanical work. It has seen success in various areas of sport-specific athletic development, and strength training sports.

1 thought on “Maximum Effort vs. Dynamic Effort”