The Dynamic Method

The dynamic method is sometimes referred to as speed work. There are some who think it is not necessary to work on speed. This is just one part of the total strength equation.

Sometimes when people read a little, they become dangerous. A little knowledge can be a curse. One day a couple lifters and I were having a discussion about the training philosophies of Dr. Y. V. Verkhoshansky. I explained to them that Dr. Verkhoshansky is an expert on power metrics, or the entire collection of jumping, rebounding, and shock training. While some refer to me as a weight lifting expert, you can’t compare our methods at all. That’s when I knew not to loan a single book to anyone; it leads to confusion.

Let’s look at the purpose of the dynamic method, or training with submaximal weights with maximal speed. This system builds a fast rate of force development. With bands and chains added, it teaches one to accelerate and reduce bar deceleration. With the lighter weights, one can control and perfect form.

For more explosive strength, one can do ballistic benching. This method consists in lowering the barbell as fast as possible and catching and reversing the bar just before it touches the chest. Do not allow the bar to touch the chest. Press the bar to lockout as powerfully as possible.

The dynamic method was also used to replace a maximal effort method for those who could not handle a second high-intensity, or 95% and above, workout twice a week. If you do two extremely heavy workouts a week, you can suffer the law of accommodation. This simply means, if you handle the same loads and same training percents, your performance will go backwards.

I personally did this for 13 years, 1970 to 1983, and only after breaking my L5 vertebra twice did I invest in several books from the old Soviet Union translated by Bud Charniga Jr. My first positive training came from A. S. Prilepin’s charts explaining why one must use a certain percent of a 1-rep max, and how many lifts in one workout, at what percents, and the repetitions per set you should follow. This leads to why one must use the dynamic system in one form or another.

A. S. Prilepin found that at 70% of a 1-rep max after 6 reps, the force production would decrease on the seventh repetition. At 80%, the fifth rep would slow down, and thus force production was reduced. At 90%, he recommended 1 to 2 reps only because the barbell again would slow on the third rep and power would diminish once again.

We use 3 reps for benching for the most part, but after a meet we use 5 reps for 10 sets. By doing this we alter the volume without changing the intensity. A 500-pound raw floor presser would use 200 pounds and two sets of 5/8-inch chain for the dynamic method. For 10 sets of 3 reps with bands or chains, the total volume without the accommodating resistance would be 6000 pounds. To reach a 505 personal record, the procedure would look like this:

After a warmup start calculations at 70% of the 500 raw bench record.

365 x 1
405 x 1
435 x 1
470 x 1
485 x 1
505 x 1 PR

This is a total of 2665 pounds.

The intensity is >100%, and the important point is, the volume is roughly 50% of the dynamic day. This represents a spike in training or a wave during a weekly plan. The wave-like basic periodization system was first introduced by Matveyev in 1964.


Let’s look at a weekly squat workout. A 1000-pound squatter using 500 pounds plus strong Jump Stretch bands for 8 sets of 2 reps lifts a total volume of 8000 pounds.

A max effort workout with a Safety Squat bar on a low box, close stance, no gear for a 1000-pound squat would look like this:

405 x 2
455 x 2
495 x 1
545 x 1
600 x 1

This would be 3360 pounds of total volume.


As you can see, this 2-day training per week serves as a means to rotate high volume, low intensity into a low volume, >100% intensity. By constantly switching the core exercise each week on max effort day and using several combinations of accommodating resistance on the dynamic day, you can completely eliminate accommodation.

See “accommodation” in the book Science and Practice of Strength Training by V. M. Zatsiorsky.

The weekly plan coincides with a monthly plan and of course eventually a yearly and multi-year plan commonly known as an Olympic cycle.

Speed training, as you can see, provides more than a training means to develop a fast rate of force development. On speed day for squatting, the percentage will jump roughly 5%, causing the bar speed to change slightly, which will also combat accommodation, sometimes called the speed barrier.

I look at weights as fast weights and slow weights, not by the old fashioned terms “light” to build muscle mass and then later on “heavy” to build strength. Dr. Hatfield said no one can lift a heavy weight slow. Well said!

In a 3-week wave, the total volume will go up somewhat, with adding weight or accommodating resistance with bands or chains.

On max effort day remember that after 3 weeks of the same exercise your progress will be retarded, but by switching the core exercises each week, this can be eliminated and progress can continue. So the bar speed is constantly changed weekly, either becoming faster or slower. After all, at a meet the first, second, and third attempt will move at different rates of speed as well.

Volume can be waved as well through special exercises for smaller muscles such as triceps, lats, and hamstrings. When starting a 3-week pendulum wave with new exercises, the unfamiliarity of these exercises will keep the volume somewhat small. But week after week they become easier, and bigger weights and of course more volume are attained. Again, this helps fight against accommodation.

Training is very complex; it is not as simple as you may think. It must be well thought out to obtain your true potential.