Tony’s Cliff Notes: Dynamic Effort Method

By: Tony Gentilcore, CSCS, CPT


What Is It?

Force = mass x acceleration


The dynamic effort method is one of three ways (the other two being the maximal effort method and the repetition method) to develop muscular force, and as a result…strength. One of the best ways (and coincidentely one of the least utilized) ways to get strong, is to learn be FAST and explosive (learn to develop forced quickly). Essentially, by using the dynamic effort method, you’re teaching yourself to EXPLODE through those sticking points. Not a bad thing.


As seen from the formula above, to increase force you can either increase the amount of mass being moved (lift heavy things off the ground, which recruits more motor units) or lift sub-maximal weight quickly (which also recruits more motor units).



How to Do It?



The dynamic effort method is generally used for the “big 3” movements; squat, bench press, and deadlift using loads of 50-70% of ones’ 1RM. On any given week, one training session would begin with a DE Bench variation, and another would start with a DE Squat/Deadlift variation. For example:



Bench Press: 1RM = 250 lbs



Week #1: (50%) – 8 sets of 3 at 125 lbs


Week #2: (55%) – 8 sets of 3 at 140 lbs (rounded up)


Week #3: (60%) – 8 sets of 3 at 150 lbs


Week #4: (65%) – 8 sets of 3 at 165 (rounded up). Also not a bad idea test for new PR’s this week.


Week #5: start over again using new percentages.


***It’s important to realize that these are just estimates. The real key is to pay attention to bar speed throughout all sets. If the bar slows down, then the weight being used is too heavy. If bar speed is consistent, then you’re right on track. If you feel the weight is too light, there are no rules to say that you can’t increase the weight so long as bar speed is maintained.


***Dynamic work often beats up on people’s shoulders and straight weight doesn’t ALWAYS have to be used. Utilizing bands, chains, etc are all great ways to stay fresh and help to maintain shoulder health (bands and chains help to decelerate the bar at the top of the movement). I like to go on two week intervals where I may use straight weight for two weeks and then revert to bands for two weeks and then maybe use chains for two weeks. However, it should be noted that explosive push-ups and med ball circuits are just as effective, especially for beginners.


Is It For You?


Eric Cressey and I were having this conversation the other day and I asked if he felt that doing dynamic work for someone who only benched 135 lbs was even necessary. His response…“EVERYONE needs to learn to be fast.” Yes this included you ladies. However, in the case for someone whose max bench is only 135 lbs, utilizing explosive push-ups or med ball circuits may be the smart way to go for the time being.


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4 Responses

  1. Ian says:

    Hi Tony,

    With regards to the med ball circuits, would a good example be those that Kevin recently posted video’s of up on this site?


  2. Tony Gentilcore says:


    Not necessarily. What Kevin did was moreso for conditioning purposes. If you were to do a med ball exercise for DE work, then a good example would be overhead throws for 4×6 (each rep is explosive….try to break the wall). Wait about 30-45 seconds, repeat.

  3. Greg says:

    Hey Tony,
    Just wondering, when you’er using bands and chains, do the percentages stay the same? Also, do those numbers also apply as is to DE Lower Body training sessions for squats and deadlifts? Thanks man.

  4. Greg,

    Bands and chains will anywhere’s from 20 to upwards of 40 lbs of tension at the top of the lift. So you will have to adjust your percentages (and how much bar weight you actually us) based off of that.