The life of an intern in the world’s strongest gym (PART 3)

Posted: October 17, 2013 in Guest Blogs
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The life of an intern in the world’s strongest gym

Written by P.J. Dundass

 “Speed kills… Knowledge is power”

Weeks 4-6

So… right now one of my blogs is being reviewed and scrutinized by Louie Simmons.

A big smile comes across Louie’s face, “That looks like something I would write” highlighting a section over his reading glasses. I reply “That is because you wrote that bit Lou, I partly referenced you”. “It’s a good piece dude”.

It is hard to comprehend how much Louie has given back to the strength training community. He has written so much about his methods and training that he is often dubbed the strength training “rain-man”. As a person, Louie is also one of the most giving and humble individuals I have ever met. Louie’s own modesty exists in relation to even his own practices “This is nothing I’m doing. It’s the system. It’s sport science”.

Tonight Louie is training one of his track athletes. I speak to the girl’s father gaining insight into her training. He has told me that he originally was going to get charged a substantial amount of money per session just down the road from Westside Barbell, from a personal trainer. Louie though, has opted to train his daughter completely free. This is an astounding side to Louie given the calibre of coach he is. Louie has been a strength consultant for the Packers and the Patriots but stopped training football players saying “it is so easy it’s retarded, it makes me feel bored” in reference to his ability to scrape up to 2 to 3 tenths of a second off a football players time in 2 months. This man truly is a lover of strength training.

Today is speed day for the track athlete and for the Westside athletes. This is one of the three jigsaw pieces of the conjugate method… THE NEED FOR SPEED.



The Dynamic Effort method is defined as “Lifting (Throwing) a non-maximal load with the highest attainable speed” (Zatsiorsky, 1995)

The dynamic effort method demands a lifter to lift a sub-maximal weight as fast as possible, directing as much as force as possible to the barbell, moving it as quickly and brutally as possible. Two of Westside Barbells training sessions per week concentrate on this method. The squat/deadlift performed on Friday and the bench press on Saturday. These days are often referred as Westsides “Speed days”

Why it is used


The dynamic method of training develops the rate of force development (RFD) and speed strength. It is a fantastic tool to help develop speed in slow athletes. The dynamic method does NOT develop maximal strength– REASON? It is not possible to demonstrate maximal force production when executing fast movements.

Developing RFD and explosive power/strength


In a nutshell, RFD and explosive power/strength relates is how much force a person can generate in the shortest period of time.

As any SUCCESSFUL coach knows (any dunce can call themselves a coach, some IMO need to replace the letter C with the letter D and change their baseball cap to a paper hat) the inclusion of specialized movements to enhance these qualities is fundamental and is related to significant parts in producing a quality training programme.

In spite of whichever sport you are involved in, IN ALL SPORTS having enhanced explosive power/strength and RFD will carry-over to a more efficient and effective athletic performance. Period.

Creating a significant sum of force in the shortest period of time is central to athletic success. Be it rapidly changing direction, sprinting, running, throwing, diving or lifting, being faster and more explosive in plays which are restricted with a time element will make you an explosive powerhouse.

How it is used- The Westside way

*The dynamic effort day is planned periodically in three week waves*


On top of this an additional 25-35% is supplied by bands or chains. There-by accommodating resistance.

The number of lifts used here are optimal (See A.S. Prilepins chart for optimal loading). If lifts are outside of optimal, reduction in the training effect takes place. (“Managing the Training of Weightlifters” by Laputin and Oleshko).

Let me emphasize that it is far more important to monitor speed than it is to rigidly follow these percentages. The bar should be moving 0.8 m/s if not drop the weight.


Quick notes on the lifts being performed


The Squat:

Always box squat when squatting. There a ton of benefits and it produces significantly higher levels of RFD than any other type of squatting.


The Bench Press:

When benching utilize three different grips- Wide, narrow and centre of the bar- You need to build all aspects, joints and muscles in a lift. Also DO NOT pause on the chest in the bench, this will diminish the stretch reflex.


The Deadlift:

For deadlifting alter from conventional to sumo style- Training wide will do everything for conventional lifting- You are only as strong as your weakest link.

Dynamic effort methods application to athletes



Two rugby players are trying out to make the front row for their club.

As a test of their strength, a 1RM competition is put between them to see which athlete has the superior posterior chain (lower body muscles) by testing the deadlift exercise.

Rugby Player A quickly accelerates and forcefully locks out a 200Kg deadlift, whereas Rugby player B takes much longer to move out of the bottom position of the deadlift reaching ¾ of the way before failing the lift.

So if both athletes could produce the 200Kg of force necessary to move the weight how come lifter A locked out the weight and lifter B could not?

Despite both being capable of producing the same levels of force, lifter A produced significantly more force in a shorter interval of time. Producing a maximal amount of force in minimal periods of time accumulated the necessary speed of the bar to lock out the weight.

What does this tell us?! Lifting is measured in time NOT WEIGHT. If you gave yourself 60 seconds to do as much dead-lifting as possible, time is the limiting factor. A person, genetically, can only produce force for an allocated amount of time. If you do not lockout the weight in this time, it’s just like when you run out of time in those Super Mario games



Running towards a ball, changing direction in a game are all limited by time, if the necessary explosiveness of the action is not maintained or fast enough in a play, you are beaten to the ball or lose possession.

In athletic performances, the dynamic effort method is vital for individuals aspiring to reach elite status. It can be used for plyometric based activities or sled dragging with a form of resistance and in fact ANY action which mimics a sporting action in a certain play. If you do, let us say, the 400m and it lasts 50 seconds. If you train your athletes for 1 minute and 30 seconds you are wasting your time. SPORT SPECIFICTY is key… So train 50 god-damn seconds “Coach”.

In utilizing the dynamic method correctly, the law of accommodation and the speed barrier can be eliminated.


What is the speed barrier?


By performing the exact same speed while running, benching, throwing or any form of action, you will acquire what is known as the speed barrier. You will not get any faster or better from performing the same activities at the same speed. You will accommodate to the speed of that action, therefore leading to the inability of executing the action at a faster rate.

As stated by Doctor Ben Tabachnik, athletes accommodate and adapt fast to quickness exercises. To avoid a speed barrier occurring the dynamic effort method intensities are varied as is the training apparatus utilized.


The science behind the dynamic effort method


The most common flaw in the dynamic method is the ego. That’s right, loading too much weight on the bar and not moving it fast enough.

The force velocity curve demonstrates basic physics, as the speed of an exercise intensifies the amount of force production available decreases.

Why then even use a specified percentage of a sub-maximal weight?!

 Here is a simple example

I want to smash a window-(Produce as OPTIMAL force as possible)

Let us use two objects to demonstrate this-

  1. 1.     If I throw a wiffle ball?-

The load is too light. It may travel the distance but will not produce enough force to damage the window. Objects of small velocity produce small force.

  1. 2.     Now if I use a baseball…

The load is now OPTIMAL. The ball is an adequate sub-maximal load. If thrown, the force will produce adequate force AND VELOCITY to break the window.

Force= Mass times acceleration= No window

So there you go, vandalism at its best demonstrating physics.

“Speed work still doesn’t sound like it works… Show me another ball example pretty please…”

If I drop a basketball from chest height it will only propel to about my waist height… Yes? If I slam the ball off the ground, the ball now is air-bourne, and a much higher height due to increased force impact. Basic physics, SPEED KILLS…


  1. 1.     Specificity: Imitate the sporting action as directly and as much as possible.
  2. 2.     Speed: Maximal speed and force, using explosive power to its greatest capacity. YOU TRAIN SLOW YOU WILL BE SLOW.
  3. 3.     Variation: The dynamic method moves in 3 weeks waves, alter the variation every 1-3 weeks.
  4. 4.     Frequency: 2 time per week- Friday for the squat/deadlift (Lower body) and Saturday for the bench press (Upper body).
  5. 5.     Percentages: Percentages are low, use guidelines stated above, plus accommodating resistance percentages (bands/chains). Base them of your best max effort lift with the particular bar you are using.
  6. Volume: High. DE day is high volume and low intensity. Repetitions per set are relatively low, this is for the following reasons
  • Resemble time taken to complete the play/action e.g. for power-lifting 3 speed benches should equate to the time 1 maximal effort attempt would be executed.
  • Ø  More sets allows many “First reps” i.e. 12 sets of 2 allows 12 “First” reps. In power-lifting you only do one attempt. Also additional reps will make you slower, drop a basketball and what happens? Each additional bounce gets smaller, producing less force and slowing down.
  1. 7.     Rest: Minimal to maximally recruit fast twitch muscle fibers- Use 30-60 seconds as a guideline.

Knowledge is power

Although there is an abundance of science to support methodologies in strength training, many critics still exist, and this is the same with the conjugate system and the dynamic effort method.

If you are not criticized or being hated upon by at least a small minority, you are not trying hard enough in life. You are playing it safe, a lot of people are going to hate on you, regardless, on your path to greatness. Louie has told me himself to “Be the one hated on, not the one doing the hating”. People are simply going to tear down your walls in search of the addictive high of an artificial and fake dominance and supremacy.

It stems from our ego. Our ego can significantly develop our personal growth to our desired life or imprison and incarcerate ourselves to limits we have brought upon ourselves. It can give you a compass to guide you in one hand, and a blade to rip you to shreds in the other. Learn to gain ownership on it. Control it. Do not let it control you.

It causes far more damage to the person being negative. It is a mental prison of toxicity which holds you back from your own potential. To those pushing their limits continue building your own kingdom with the bricks thrown at you by your critics.

This method and systems results speak for itself.

“If I want to learn something, I don’t call the guy with 25-inch arms; I call the guy with the 190 I.Q.”- L.S.

Master the ego, become the hated, be the best YOU can be and get on the road to kicking ass in life…

Knowledge is power.


P.J. Dundass is an aspiring Irish strength and conditioning coach originating from Connemara, Co. Galway. He is a recent graduate from The Waterford Institute of Technology having completed a Bachelor of Business (Hons) degree in Recreation and Sport Management. He is currently completing an 8 week internship in Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio.

  1. Nice to see an Irish guy mixing with the best. 1 question

    I don’t understand how speed can transfer over doing heavy weights? Is anything above 50% 1rm slow twitch by nature?

    Man A – Squats heavy (30% 1rm, say 16kg of a waist resistance band pulling you back while running)

    If your developing “fast twitch” using heavy weights are you still not in reality in a strength and endurance phase?
    “doing a slow exercise which is slow twitch by nature”

  2. Nice to see an Irish guy mixing with the best. 1 question

    I don’t understand how speed can transfer over doing heavy weights? Is anything above 50% 1rm slow twitch by nature?

    Man A – Squats heavy (30% 1rm, say 16kg of a waist resistance band pulling you back while running)

    If your developing “fast twitch” using heavy weights are you still not in reality in a strength and endurance phase?
    “doing a slow exercise which is slow twitch by nature”

  3. P.J. Dundass says:

    Hi Myles,

    When lifting at a certain percentage a lifter can produce the maximum force possible, in other words staying within the bounds of the force velocity curve. This was demonstrated by Verkhoshansky on a force plate, that the optimal force produced before it was jeopardized was at 60% of a 1RM bench press and when lifting heavier the exercise slowed down therefore less force was produced. No lifter can lift a heavy weight slow so speed work is employed.

    This force production demonstrates why you see some lifters being able to do 2-3 reps of 100kg for example and not being able to do one rep of 105kg. With lighter weight you can produce more force than is actually on the bar. It would surprise you that the lifter at 105kg may not be able to produce the necessary force to lock out the weight or the explosive power.

    Speed day is therefore to develop a faster rate of force development and explosive power, not to build absolute strength, hope this answer helps mate.

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