Jan 24, 2019
Dynamic Effort Method can serve athletes well
By Training & Conditioning

The Dynamic Effort Method (DEM), or lifting a submaximal load as fast as you can, is a training method typically used by powerlifters. But Nicholas Bronkall, performance enhancement specialist, founder of The Strength Coach Development Center, and contributor to EliteFTS.com, explains why the DEM can also be beneficial for athletes.

weight platesThe DEM was developed by Vladimir Zatsiorsky and made popular by Louie Simmons, who realized it could help powerlifters increase their bar speed. The purpose behind the DEM is to improve the rate of force development and explosive strength, and Bronkall believes that it can be just as useful for athletes as it is for powerlifters. Athletes with explosive strength are more powerful, which is fundamental to helping them succeed in their sport.

Bronkall explains that the DEM can be applied to all areas of training, from lifting and pulling to running, jumping and throwing. But before you incorporate this type of training into your program, there are a few things to keep in mind. It’s important to always factor in aspects like time management, athlete experience level, and learning ability. Especially for barbell-based work, Bronkall cautions that athletes should master the lifts before giving dynamic effort. Take the time to teach movements correctly before adding other variables.


Medicine ball throws provide a great supplement to Olympic lifting, as they are less time consuming, easier on the joints, easier to teach, and often more fun for the athletes. There are also lots of variations, so athletes can perform them in multiple planes. The key is to make sure that athletes are throwing as hard and as fast as possible. If the ball is too heavy, then they are only building strength, not speed. The ball shouldn’t be more than 10 to 15 pounds for throws, especially if they’re rotational.

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Bronkall recommends setting a goal of 30 to 50 throws a sessions using three to six different types of throws, depending on where you are in the season. He usually allocates 10 minutes for throws. For example, you can split your athletes into groups of six, with three on one end and three on the other. They throw the ball and then follow their throws to the sides on which they threw it. After five throws, everybody does some type of pre-hab movement.


There are four planes in which to train jumps: vertical, linear, lateral, and rotation. With more advanced athletes, you can combine multiple planes. Different types of jumps include standing, seated, kneeling, weighted variations, hurdle variations, jumping onto boxes, or jumping over boxes. But one of the keys is to make sure your athletes are always sticking their landings, as this teaches them how to absorb force in a closed environment and allows the athletes to prepare for the next movement.

Bronkall recommends adjusting reps based on the level of difficulty. The more difficult/higher intensity the movement, the lower the total volume. As always, focus on quality over quantity, and make sure that your athletes are jumping as explosively as possible. If they no longer can explode through their jumps, they likely need a rest.


There are a lots of options when it comes to sprint training, and advanced athletes can even incorporating some jumps into their sprinting. Bronkall says to only do sprints at the beginning of the workout and to always provide proper rest, as this is a very tiring activity and can put a lot of stress on the central nervous system. In a team setting, 30 seconds of rest for one second of sprinting should be enough. When in doubt, allow for full recovery.

Bronkall suggests designing your sprint training based on total volume/yardage. For every athlete, start with 10 yards. If an athlete is de-conditioned or hasn’t done much physical activity in a while, sprinting over 15 yards poses the risk of hamstring injuries. When in doubt, have athletes do 10 yards or fewer for the first three to four weeks. From there, volume should slowly increase. When you introduce a new start variation, start back at a low volume before working up.

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