Give it Everything You’ve Got – A Practical Application of Dynamic Lifting

When I started lifting weights at 18 years old, I had no idea what I was doing. When I first strolled into the gym on Lackland Air Force Base, I may have been steping into a different dimension on some SciFi channel show (although at that time where I grew up in the sticks, we did not get the SciFi channel, we got what was known as ‘Channel 12’).

What does this have to do with strength training? For the past 26 years I’ve observed what successful lifters have done, tested it, adopted what works, and dropped what hasn’t. I’m not a West Side lifter, but if you know anything about powerlifting, you know that WSB is an authority on power and strength training. I have adopted a number of Louis Simmons’ teachings into my programming. This article addresses my application of Dynamic Training.

Why add Dynamic Training to your program?

Watch someone bench pressing, or think back to your last bench session. When you warmed up at 135lbs you pressed the bar up with 135lbs of force. When you got to your working sets at 315lbs (or whatever your working sets were), you applied 315lbs of force. You recruited the muscles you needed to lift the weight on the bar, you hit your lifts, and you had a successful training session, right?

Maybe, but what did you leave on the table?

To answer that question, I have another question. (You can’t answer a question with a question! Yes I can, it’s my article…). What is Power? For the purposes of benching more weight (or squatting, pulling, etc.) power is a product of strength and speed. If your training consists of only applying enough force to overcome the weight on the bar, you are training for strength. You are not training for power.

Ok, I’m starting to get it, how do I apply it?

I’m glad you asked or quite frankly this article would be a huge waste. This is where dynamic training comes in. The concept behind dynamic training is to move the bar as fast as possible regardless of the weight. If you can bench 300lbs in .5 seconds, you should move 150lbs in .25 seconds or less.

How you work dynamic training into your program is dependent on your program’s structure, but it can be quite simple:

  • Select an unrelated workout 2-3 days before or after your heavy session for that lift. For example, dynamic bench sessions can be done at the end of your heavy squat session, 2 days after your heavy bench session.
  • Start with a weight around 50-60% of that lift’s 1RM. If your best bench is 405lbs, start with 205lbs (I know you’re going to use 225lbs, aren’t you).
  • Keep the rep range low, 2-3 reps. Sets should short enough so that you finish before you begin to tire, and the bar speed slows. Concentrate on moving the bar as fast as possible, try to move the bar faster with each subsequent repetition.
  • Use between 6-10 sets, depending on how many sets you can complete before you begin to fatigue and the bar speed slows.
  • After mastering dynamic training at the lower weights, begin increasing the weight in later sets of your dynamic session. Work on moving the bar explosively with heavy weights as well as lighter weight.

Dynamic training results

  • You will train yourself to drive the bar up with all of your strength regardless of the weight. You will be able to rapidly activate all available muscle fibers. Even at your heaviest weights you will move the bar more explosively.
  • Because you are training your lifts more frequently, you will practice lifting technique at lighter weights that you can naturally complete with better form. Your proficiency in the lifts will improve.
  • You will lift more weight.
I like to break my dynamic training up into groups of 3 sets. I start light with a weight where I can really move the bar fast, and bump the weight up as long as the bar still moves relatively quickly:

Sets 2-3:

Sets 4-6:

Sets 7-8:

Wrap up and Results

When training for the 2013 USA Powerlifting Nationals I added dynamic benches to my back training sessions. I started with a modest 225lbs for 9×3. After several months of training I hit a high on my dynamic bench of 7×2@405, lifted a personal record (PR) raw bench in the gym, and a huge equipped PR of 562lb bench in competition. Dynamic training works.