Dynamic Effort Lower Advice for Football Players
It's no secret that good athletes are explosive athletes. As a football coach, you want skill position players capable of reaching top running speeds quickly and linemen capable of producing maximal amounts of strength on demand. To accomplish this, players must improve their absolute strength and rate of force production.
Last week we discussed the importance of max-effort training concerning the sport of football. Developing your absolute strength will always be the main priority, considering its effect on all other forms of strength and athleticism. To put it simply, adding to your absolute strength is like adding more cylinders to your engine.
As absolute strength is increased, it becomes necessary to develop the proper amount of explosive strength to improve force output. At Westside, we utilize the dynamic effort method to accomplish this goal.
The dynamic effort method calls for submaximal weights to be lifted at maximal speed. This means that you will be training with weights lighter than your max lift but should be moving the weight as fast as possible while maintaining proper form.
Below, we will provide recommendations to allow football players to get the most out of their DE lower training.
For dynamic effort training to be effective, the athlete lifting the weight must do their part. This means that even though the weights used during dynamic effort training are less than maximal, an athlete should move the bar with the same force required when lifting their max.
It's a simple concept. The intent is to produce as much force as possible each squat rep regardless of the weight on the bar. This does not mean get under the bar and move as fast and reckless as possible; you should be as controlled as you would be under a max weight while exerting the same amount of force you would under a max weight.
As a coach, it is vital to ensure your athletes understand the importance of their input when using this training style. Without the proper amount of force applied by the lifter, dynamic effort training is rendered ineffective. As with anything, going through the motions will lead you to failure.
Learn to Box Squat Properly
This follows right on the heels of learning how to accelerate properly to engage in dynamic effort training - how to box squat with proper form. When box squatting, we are trying to accomplish two types of training effects; Static overcome by dynamic work and relaxed overcome by dynamic work.
For this to be achieved, athletes must execute the box squat properly. This requires coaches to take the time and educate their players on box squat execution. Keep in mind, box squat form may look a bit different from lifter to lifter, but the fundamentals are still the same. Here are some cues to help teach the box squat:
Big air, chest up - encourage your athletes to breathe into their diaphragm while elevating the chest and maintaining ideal cervical and thoracic spine posture.
Control - the proper lowering of the barbell, maintaining optimal form while moving towards the box.
Sit back, not down - this allows the muscles to be stretched maximally.
Relax, explode - athletes should relax the muscles of the hip flexors, glutes, and obliques, followed by an explosive movement off of the box to complete the concentric portion of the lift. This is necessary for static overcome by dynamic and relaxed overcome by dynamic work to be achieved.
These are simple cues to start with, and it is expected that a coach will modify these based on the athlete they are communicating with.
Unless you have been working with a particular group of athletes for a while, this will likely be the first time or one of the few times these athletes have ever experienced dynamic effort training. Teaching max effort training is easy; all you have to do is teach proper form and tell an athlete to give the weight hell.
Dynamic effort training is different because it requires specific input from the athlete performing the movement. As mentioned above, compensatory acceleration is required for the work to be maximally effective. Additionally, the box squat presents another challenge, as it may take some time to get an athlete box squatting correctly.
For these reasons, we suggest starting with simple dynamic waves. Here is what nine weeks of dynamic effort lower should look like for athletes just getting started with their DE lower training:
Week 1 - Squat bar, 50% + 20% band, 12 x 2, parallel box
Week 2 - Squat bar, 55% + 20% band, 10 x 2, parallel box
Week 3 - Squat bar, 50% + 20% band, 12 x 2, parallel box
Week 4 - Bow bar, 50% + 25% band, 12 x 2, box slightly below parallel
Week 5 - Bow bar, 55% + 25% band, 10 x 2, box slightly below parallel
Week 6 - Bow bar, 60% + 25% band, 8 x 2, box slightly below parallel
Week 7 - Squat bar, 50% + 20% band, 5 x 5, parallel box
Week 8 - Squat bar, 55% + 20% band, 5 x 5, parallel box
Week 9 - Squat bar, 60% + 20% band, 5 x 5, parallel box
The idea behind this scheme is to introduce athletes to box squats properly. The only specialty bar used is the bow bar. This is to help alleviate shoulder strain/pain that may carry over from upper body training days.
Considering this is offseason, the percentages and band tension used should mimic the same approach used with powerlifters. Box height will vary from parallel to slightly below. There isn't much need for an athlete to squat deeper than that. Rep ranges vary, and 5 x 5 is used to influence positive changes in strength endurance.
The Right Way is The Effective Way
For dynamic effort training to be effective, athletes must perform the lift correctly. By following the advice above, you and your athletes will be able to reap the full benefits of dynamic effort training. The end goal is to develop the ability to reach maximum output as quickly as possible, allowing the athlete to fully utilize all of those absolute strength gains.
Stick to conventional periodization training models if you want slow, fragile, and out-of-shape players. If you want explosive, violent, and relentless dogs on your team, choose the Conjugate Method.
Simmons, L. (2015) Special Strength Development for All Sports. Westside Barbell.
Simmons, L. (2007). Westside Barbell Book of Methods. Westside Barbell.
Verkhoshansky, Y., & Siff, M. C. (2009). Supertraining. Verkhoshansky.
Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Kraemer, W. J. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training. Human Kinetics.