Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dynamic Effort Training to Fuel Huge Strength Gains (guest post by Sarah Walls)

I'm quite fortunate to work with some very, very good coaches. Sarah is one of them. See the guest post below to read a bit about the efficacy of dynamic effort training. If you're a coach seeking to help your athletes become stronger, or a weekend warrior seeking to bust through some plateaus, then keep reading. Sarah doesn't give away a laid-out-for-you example of one of her programs very often (aka never) so take advantage of it while you can. (Note: dynamic effort lifts will NOT be an appropriate movement to include in your program unless you already possess fairly sound mechanics in the basic lifts).  

I had something wonderful happen last week: the George Mason Throwers – who just came off the season – retested in the squat and everyone PR’d. I’m not talking 5lb PR’s, we had HUGE PR’s of 55lb and even 60lb (that’s a 365lb squat moving up to 425lb and a 455lb squat moving up to 510lb)! The lowest PR was 20lb. This progress occurred over about 16-weeks. By the way, I called the depth on each attempt myself, anyone who knows me personally knows I’m a stickler for proper squat depth.

I will be (and that day I was) the first to admit how shocked I was at our new numbers. You see, we were retesting so everyone could be sure they are working off the correct percentages for their summer training program. Coming off the season, I figured everyone would be down around their old max (if we’re lucky) or even below… that’s how it works, right? Maybe not…In hindsight, my approach to this team (much like the sprinters and jumpers I wrote about last week) has been extremely conservative. So what was the catalyst for all these great PR’s? Dynamic Effort Squats (or Speed Squats as they’re sometimes called) are the key to their success.

What are they? Dynamic Effort squatting is a squat that is performed using relatively low percentages and performed as fast as possible through the concentric portion.
Why did we use them?
The Throws’ coach communicated to me at some point in December or January that the group, generally speaking, needed to learn to accelerate through to the “block” portion of the throw. I suggested Speed Squats.

How do you use them? Don’t mess with success: There is a pretty tried and true method to speed squat success and you can work off of these parameters for YEARS. If you are new to speed squatting try this wave over a three-week period: Week 1 10x2@50% - Week 2 10x2@55% - Week 3 8x2@60% - stay strict with a maximum of 60 seconds rest between sets.

Can Olympic lifts take the place of Dynamic Effort Squats? Theoretically, yes. In practice, absolutely not! The problem with the Olympic lifts and their variations is the complexity of the movement – it is, after all, its own sport. You are better off taking a simple movement that an athlete is familiar with and squeezing out every drop of progress (which will last through 4-5 years of a college career, I promise).

It blows my mind how relatively unknown Dynamic Effort lifting remains to many coaches. But, then again, the only reason I know the ins and outs of the method is via my colleagues over the years.Okay, I NEVER do this, so since you’re probably already sitting down – stay there! I don’t want anyone injured… Below are a full 4 waves of lower body lifting I wrote for the throwers this past semester. You’ll see that we did a lot of speed squatting and very little heavy accessory work. Really take a close look at the last few weeks. Oh, and a note about Wave 3, the team’s CNS was trashed so I took the DE squats out to let the team recoup. Finally, in addition to this mandatory team session lower body training day, we had an additional Saturday lift that was to be completed on their own. It consisted of very basic movements to “clean up” what we couldn’t get to during the two days they see me.
Wave 1: Weeks 1-3
A1 High Pull6x3@65%5x2@75%4x1@85%+
A2 Rocking Ankle Mob2x102x102x10
Banded DE Box Squat10x2@40-50%9x2@45-55%8x2@50-60%
B1 Band Pistol Sq2x53x53x6
B2 Pallof Press2x62x72x8
C1 DB Swing2x123x103x12
C2 Plate Pinch2x:152x:203x:15

 Wave 2: Weeks 4-6
DE Box Squat10x2@50%9x2@55%8x2@60%
A1 Oblique Deadlift6x36x24x1
A2 Body Saw3x103x103x10
B1 Bulgarian Split Sq2x53x53x6
B2 St. Arm Walkout2x62x72x8
C1 OH Plate Squat3x63x84x6
C2 Plate Pinch Driver2x103x83x10
Week 7: Deload Week – light DB and bodyweight work… step away from the barbell! 
Wave 3: Weeks 8-10 – Taper Begins
“Low” Bar Squat (1/4 Squat depth)4x3@75%3x2@80%3x1@85%+
A1 Oblique Deadlift4x33x2skip
A2 Partner Plank4x:153x:202x:10
B1 SL DB RDL3x62x82x5
B2 MB Side Throw3x63x72x5
C1 OH Plate Squat2x103x83x6
C2 Hex Hold2xFAIL!2xFAIL!2xFAIL!

 Wave 4: Weeks 11-13 – Taper Continues to Conference
DE Box Squat5x2@50%4x2@55%n/a
 “Low” Bar Squat3x13x1n/a
A1 SL ¼ Squat2x52x52x5
A2 MB OH Throw2x52x52x5
DB OH Squat2x62x53x6

Here are my final thoughts: if you're an athlete, parent of an athlete, or just an average lifter looking to get these same kind of gains, then contact us here! We've been offering exceptional programs privately for 4 years and now we're also offering our same crucial coaching and programming for distance clients! It doesn't get any better than SAPT.


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