There are so many ways to sex up a program, and with the internet overflowing with information, it’s easy to get carried away. You see Vogelpohl lifting insane amounts of weight and you hear Louie Simmons go on and on about the conjugate method. You see Kai Greene pumping out thousands of reps – you hear about the extreme tempo manipulation of the bodybuilding elite. You’re confused!
Look no further. I’ve tried all of the above and here are my experiences:
The Dynamic Effort Method:
Bands and chains huh? That’s sexy. Speed work? FUCK YEA!
Thing is, just like CAT “invented” by Hatfield, dynamic effort work was created with one very specific group of people in mind. The insanely strong people. The dynamic effort method is a way to train a lift without having to lift enormous amounts of weight. This is a smart move if you’re squatting in the 400kg+ range. You pretty much have to find ways to limit the amount of weight you use if you want to be able to train.
Problem is – you’re not squatting 400kg+.
There’s a distinct difference between 90% of 1RM if 1RM is =430kg and 90% of a 120kg 1RM. Obviously not relative to the lifters strength, but relative to the amount of stress it puts on the bones, the connective tissues, the muscles and even the mind. 90% is not 90%.
For a novice lifter it may be fun and sexy to do DE, speed work or CAT. But… It’s a wasted effort. Unless you’re already lifting serious amounts of weight – time is much better spent building base strength. Strength is the foundation for power and just getting stronger will increase your power output. That’s why a 200kg squatter always has a better power clean than a 100kg squatter all others things equal. There’s only so much powertraining will do for a 100kg squatter.
Using the dynamic effort method is very specific to training for maximal performance in the given lifts. There are more benefits than just being able to train without beating the body up quite as much, but the benefits are pretty much all very specific to powerlifting at a high level.
For a normal lifter or even an athlete who’s not already very strong, time is simply much better spent doing heavy squats. It’s not sexy, but it’s true.
The other end of the spectrum:
Slowing down lifts deliberately.
This is really stupid.
It’s important to point out, that I’m not talking about a 430kg squatter who’s applying tempo and pauses to limit the amount of weight lifted. Nor am I talking about any kind of advanced lifter doing it for a real reason.
What’s extremely stupid is when skinny weak guys use slow negs because it “burns” or because it’ll get them sore as hell. As with anything in training, no amount of tempo manipulation will get you jacked if you’re squatting 70kg. Time will be much better spent pushing a handful core lifts up aggressively. THEN when you’re squatting somewhere around 150-170ish you can play with tempos and/or pauses, but up until that point it’s not really worth your time (unless obviously you have specific issues).
Moving weights as fast as possible under control is good, slowing down deliberately is bad. At least for now. As with the speed work, it may be useful at some point in time.
I’ve said it before so many times, but I guess I’ll have to keep saying it as long as I can muster up the strength to do so. If you’re weak, your number one priority should be to get your strength up. No amount of pumping, sculpting, feeling, contact or whatever is gonna do shit if you’re not lifting a decent amount of weight. Best part is – if you’re weak it’s gonna be easy to build strength. Just read Starting Strength and get training!