Dynamic Effort Upper: Structuring Your Training

Dynamic Effort Upper: Structuring Your Training

Over the years, we have had tremendous success building the bench press at Westside Barbell. There are two reasons for this; the maximal effort method and the dynamic effort method. When properly combined, these two methods will raise your absolute strength and rate of force development rapidly.

To put it simply, we utilize the max effort method to increase the total weight we can lift and the dynamic effort method to increase the speed of the barbell. For most, the concept of max effort training is not difficult to understand. You need to train at 90%+ and work within rep ranges of 1-3. 

The dynamic effort method is the one methodology some have issues understanding when beginning their first Conjugate Method program. As mentioned above, we utilize dynamic effort work to increase our rate of force development, allowing us to move the barbell more explosively. It must be understood that to be a strong lifter, you must be an explosive lifter. 

The structure of a dynamic effort upper training day is similar to the structure of a dynamic effort lower training day in two ways; both follow a three-week wave schedule, and both follow the same basic order of exercises. 

Here is how to properly structure your dynamic effort training:

The Main Exercise

Speed bench is the exercise of choice at Westside Barbell for our dynamic effort upper training day, considering we focus on developing the bench press. However, it would certainly be possible for an overhead press or Olympic weightlifting movement to be programmed in if you are a strongman competitor or Olympic weightlifter. 

The number of sets and reps performed during the main exercise will be dictated by what week of the three-week wave you are in currently. For this article's sake, we will show how to structure the first dynamic effort training day of the three-week wave. 

Week 1 Main Exercise: 

Speed Bench (45% + minibands) - 10 x 3 

The Accessory Exercises

Choosing accessory exercises for a dynamic effort upper training day is relatively simple. You should select exercises that train the back, arms, and shoulders. Weaknesses get priority but do enough work to avoid developing a new lagging muscle group or weaknesses. 

For example, here is what accessory exercise selection would look like for an individual with weak triceps:

Week 1 Accessory Exercises: 

Rolling DB Tricep Extensions - 4 x 12-15

Barbell Rows - 4 x 8-10

Skullcrushers - 3 x 10-12

Hammer Curls - 3 x 10-12

Lateral Raises - 3 x 15

Band Pressdowns - 4 x AMRAP

The goal for each exercise is to use the heaviest weight you can manage while completing all prescribed sets and reps with proper form. 

Train With Intent

One thing that must be mentioned when speaking on dynamic effort training is the importance of the athlete's intent. For dynamic effort work to be maximally effective, an athlete must move as explosively as possible each rep of each set. 

Failure to do so will provide misleading training feedback, making the appearance that the weight on the bar is too heavy and slowing the lifter down. When in reality, the bar weight is optimal, the athlete is not holding up their end of the bargain. If you train without intent, you risk rendering this extremely beneficial training method useless. 

In the future, we will discuss how to build an entire three-week wave. Keep an eye out for that article soon. Until then, stay strong. 


Simmons, L. (2007). Westside Barbell Book of Methods. Westside Barbell.


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