The Westside Barbell Dynamic Effort Lower Body Workout!


The dynamic effort method is one of the most powerful training methods in the world. The powerlifting coach Louie Simmons says it is the key to building a world-class squat and deadlift.

If you want to learn the Westside Barbell dynamic effort lower body workout then this article is for you!

Introduction

  • Part 1: The Westside Barbell Training Split
  • Part 2: The Dynamic Effort Squat
  • Part 3: The Dynamic Effort Deadlift
  • Part 4: Sample Workouts

In this comprehensive guide I will teach you how the Westside Barbell powerlifting team structures their dynamic effort lower body workouts to break world records in the squat and deadlift.

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team uses three training methods to build strength:

  • The max effort method
  • The dynamic effort method
  • The repetition effort method

The max effort method is used to build maximal strength. Every week you work up to a 1-rep max on some type of special exercise for the squat or deadlift.

The max effort method is very effective for building strength but it is also very tough on your central nervous system.

The dynamic effort method is the complete opposite: it is all about lifting lighter weights as explosively as possible to get stronger and increase your rate of force development.

Here is the Westside guru Matt Wenning describing the dynamic effort method:

“The dynamic effort method is a CNS builder. Most of the adaptations are CNS changes or central nervous system changes. Your spinal cord is the spark plug to your muscles and the dynamic effort method makes it stronger.”

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team uses the dynamic effort method to train the squat and the deadlift once per week. Here is what the dynamic effort squat looks like:

The Dynamic Effort Squat

The Westside team likes to use the box squat for their dynamic effort squats. They squat down to the box, pause for a split second and then explode the weight back up as fast as possible.

The Westside team performs their dynamic effort deadlifts the exact same way. Check it out:

The Dynamic Effort Deadlift

As you can see the Westside team is performing the exercise as fast as possible. Their goal is to pull so hard that the bar flies out of their hands in the top position!

The dynamic effort method is so effective because it teaches you to produce maximum force with lighter weights. Just take a look at the following equation:

“Force = Mass x Acceleration”

The amount of force that your muscles produce is a function of two different things: the amount of weight on the bar (mass) and how fast the bar moves (acceleration).

The dynamic effort method helps you produce maximum force by focusing on accelerating the bar as fast as possible.

Lifting lighter weights as explosively as possible builds maximal strength but it also increases your rate of force development. This means it takes your body less time to produce maximum force on the bar.

Here is Matt Wenning talking about this concept:

“What you really need to focus on is the rate of force development. You have to learn how to get quicker.

If you look at the best squatters and deadlifters, they are very, very explosive. And that comes from training with moderate weights at a high velocity.”

Louie Simmons says the best way to train for powerlifting is to train each exercise twice per week.

You have one max effort squat / deadlift workout early in the week where you train with heavy weights. Then you have a dynamic effort squat / deadlift workout later in the week where you lift lighter weights as explosively as possible.

Here is Louie Simmons’ favorite training split:

The Westside Barbell Training Schedule

  • Sunday: Dynamic effort upper body
  • Monday: Max effort lower body
  • Wednesday: Max effort upper body
  • Friday: Dynamic effort lower body

Louie Simmons says that alternating back and forth between a “heavy” day and a “speed” day helps you to make consistent long-term progress and avoid training plateaus. Check it out:

“The dynamic method was developed to replace a max effort day for those who could not handle two max effort workouts a week. This helped me in the early years (1983) to recover from a bad back injury.

I could not handle two max effort lower and upper body workouts per week, so we changed over to the dynamic method to make one day a fast day, not a light day.”

The Westside Barbell powerlifting team performs about 4 exercises for their dynamic effort lower body workout. They perform the squat, the deadlift and then 2 accessory exercises for their lower body. Check it out:

The Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Training Template

  • Exercise #1: Dynamic effort squat
  • Exercise #2: Dynamic effort deadlift
  • Exercise #3: Posterior chain accessory exercise
  • Exercise #4: Posterior chain accessory exercise

Let’s start by looking at the squat and deadlift. Louie Simmons says that you should perform your dynamic effort sets with about 50-60% of your 1-rep max. This is heavy enough to challenge your body but light enough so that this workout doesn’t interfere with your max effort day.

Louie Simmons says that you should fluctuate the weights you use on your dynamic effort day using a 3-week wave. For example you could use 50% of your 1-rep max the first week, 55% of your 1-rep max the second week and 60% of your 1-rep max the third week.

Changing the weight you use for your dynamic effort day helps you get stronger by preventing your body from adapting to your routine. Check it out:

“On dynamic day, use a 3-week Pendulum wave. For example, for the squat week 1, 50%; week 2 55%; week 3 60%; week 4 back to 50%.

Change from bands to chains, add weight releasers, use the lightened method or overcoming a rested load, or change your grip or stance.”

Let’s start by looking at the dynamic effort squat. Louie Simmons says that you should perform around 8-12 sets of speed squats.

Louie likes to perform speed squats with bands or chains on the bar to make the exercise even more challenging. The bands and chains make the top half of the exercise much harder which forces you to explode the weight all the way to lockout.

Here is what a 3-week wave of speed squats with chains would look like:

Squat 3-Week Wave: Chains

  • Week #1: 8-12 sets of 2 reps @ 50% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #2: 8-12 sets of 2 reps @ 55% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #3: 8-12 sets of 2 reps @ 60% of your 1-rep max

Here is a great video for the speed squat with chains:

As you can see the chains fall on the ground as the athlete squats down to the box. Then as the athlete squats the weight up the chains come up off the floor.

The chains are forcing you to train explosively because the bar feels heavier and heavier as you approach lockout. If you get lazy and slow down then the chains will pull you right back down to the box!

Louie Simmons says chains are a great tool but bands are even better for building a huge squat. Here is what a 3-week wave with bands could look like. Check it out:

Squat 3-Week Wave: Bands

  • Week #1: 8-12 sets of 2 reps @ 40% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #2: 8-12 sets of 2 reps @ 45% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #3: 8-12 sets of 2 reps @ 50% of your 1-rep max

Here is what the speed squat with bands looks like:

Whenever you are using bands you want to use a lower percentage of your 1-rep max. This is because the bands add a lot more tension to the top of the exercise.

Louie says that you shouldn’t worry too much about how much tension the bands add at the top of the squat. The important thing is that you are lifting the weight explosively throughout the entire range of motion.

Here is a great line by Matt Wenning on this topic:

“Whatever you use on speed day should be complementing and building up your max effort day.”

Sometimes Louie likes to use bands and chains at the same time to challenge his athletes even more. Check it out:

Squat 3-Week Wave: Bands And Chains

  • Week #1: 5 sets of 5 reps @ 30% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #2: 5 sets of 5 reps @ 35% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #3: 5 sets of 5 reps @ 40% of your 1-rep max

Here is what the speed squat with bands and chains looks like:

Louie Simmons used to have his athletes perform 8-12 sets of 2 reps on the speed squat but lately he has been using the “5 sets of 5” scheme a lot.

Louie says that this version helps you build muscle mass and is a great choice for anyone who wants to move up a weight class.

Now let’s look at some 3-week waves for the speed deadlift. Louie Simmons says that you should only perform speed deadlifts with bands because chains are too difficult to use on the deadlift.

Here is what a 3-week wave looks like on the deadlift. Check it out:

Speed Deadlift 3-Week Wave: Bands

  • Week #1: 4-6 sets of 1 rep @ 30% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #2: 4-6 sets of 1 rep @ 35% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #3: 4-6 sets of 1 rep @ 40% of your 1-rep max

Here is a perfect video demonstration of the speed deadlift:

Louie Simmons says that you have to be very careful with how much weight you use on the bar for your speed deadlifts. You want the bar to explode off the floor!

If you train too heavy for your speed deadlifts then your performance on your max effort squat / deadlift day will start to suffer.

Around the year 2010 the Westside Barbell powerlifting team started to experiment with speed deadlifts performed in a power rack. The Westside team would perform speed rack deadlifts with tons of band tension.

Here is what a 3-week wave on the speed rack deadlift looks like:

Speed Rack Deadlift 3-Week Wave: Bands

  • Week #1: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 30% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #2: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 35% of your 1-rep max
  • Week #3: 8-10 sets of 3 reps @ 40% of your 1-rep max

Here is a perfect video demonstration:

The Westside team actually quadruples up the bands for their speed rack deadlifts. This creates an absolutely insane amount of band tension in the top position!

Louie says that you should perform your speed rack deadlifts for multiple sets of 3 reps to build muscle mass in all the key squatting and deadlifting muscles. As usual you should keep the weight light and focus on lifting the bar as explosively as possible.

After your speed squats and speed deadlifts you should perform 2 lower body accessory exercises.

Louie Simmons likes to perform 1 exercise for the lower back and 1 exercise for the hamstrings. These are the key muscles for a huge squat and deadlift so it makes sense that he focuses on them over everything else.

Here are some of Louie Simmons’ favorite lower body accessory exercises:

The Best Lower Back Exercises

  • Option #1: Reverse hyperextension
  • Option #2: The back attack
  • Option #3: The good morning
  • Option #4: The 45 degree back extension

Louie Simmons says that the reverse hyperextension is his all-time favorite lower back accessory exercise. He uses it in the majority of his dynamic effort squat / deadlift workouts.

Here is a great demonstration of the reverse hyperextension machine:

The reverse hyperextension is almost like the opposite of a regular back extension machine. Instead of lifting your upper body forwards you are extending your legs back behind you!

The reverse hyperextension machine is so effective because it strengthens and rehabilitates your lower back at the same time. The Westside Barbell powerlifting team also performs plenty of accessory exercises for the hamstrings.

Here are some of their favorites:

The Best Hamstrings Exercises

  • Option #1: The inverse leg curl
  • Option #2: The belt squat
  • Option #3: The glute ham raise
  • Option #4: The forwards sled drag

Louie Simmons says that the glute ham raise used to be his favorite hamstrings exercise but today that title belongs to the inverse leg curl machine.

Here is a great video demonstration of this exercise:

The inverse leg curl is the opposite of a regular leg curl. Instead of bending your heels towards your butt you are bending your butt back towards your heels!

The inverse leg curl machine is so effective because it trains your hamstrings as knee flexors and hip extensors at the same time.

So the Westside team performs their dynamic effort squats and deadlifts plus some accessory exercises for their lower back and hamstrings.

Now let’s put it all together by looking at a full dynamic effort squat / deadlift workout. Check it out:

Westside Barbell Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Workout #1

  • Exercise #1: Speed squat against bands, 6-10 sets of 2 reps
  • Exercise #2: Speed deadlift against bands, 6-10 sets of 1 rep
  • Exercise #3: Inverse leg curl machine, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Reverse hyperextension, 3-4 sets of 8-15 reps

Here is the training video for this workout:

This is a very normal looking Westside Barbell dynamic effort lower body workout. The Westside team performs their speed squats and speed deadlifts using lots of band tension and moderately heavy weights.

After their speed sets they perform some of their favorite accessory exercises such as the inverse leg curl machine and the reverse hyperextension.

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Conclusion

The dynamic effort squat / deadlift day is one of the most important training days in the Westside Barbell powerlifting program. In fact Louie Simmons says that this is THE most important day in his entire program!

The key to getting the most out of your dynamic effort sets is to pick the right weight and to execute your reps correctly.

Westside gurus like Matt Wenning says that most people use weights that are too heavy and then wonder why they aren’t making any progress.

Instead you should stick to moderately heavy weights around 50-60% of your 1-rep max and lift them as explosively as you can. Save the heavy sets for your max effort day!

Here is one more quote by Louie Simmons to pump you up even more:

“To master kung fu, the training must be severe.”

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck on your strength training journey!

 

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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