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Understanding The Maximal Effort System

“Losers have goals, winners have systems”. Probably one of the best quotes I’ve read lately. This quote says everything that I believe separates DCL from other gyms. Because all programming is done in house we can tailor our system to our athletes. Not every athlete is capable of following the same program, they are however able to follow a system. Part of the system we use here at DCL is the maximal effort method. I learned about this method from Westside Barbell and then tailored it to CrossFit and DCL athletes and after 5 years of utilizing it, we have seen tremendous results. This method is often misunderstood and can frustrate an athlete if they don’t fully understand the goal of it.
The purpose of the maximal effort method is not necessarily to hit a new personal record (PR) every time, though that is the goal, it is designed to elicit a stimulus from the central nervous system. But using the maximal effort method I can get an athlete to put an all-out intensity while keeping the volume low. Intensity is high and volume is low. This will keep an athlete fairly fresh physically while being taxed neurologically. I will use the opposite later on in the week by dynamic effort method by keeping volume high while intensity is low. By using this method my advanced athletes can be pushed to their absolute strength limit and my less advanced athletes can also be pushed but I can stop them just as their form starts to break down, again everything is relative. My advanced athletes always get the feeling of something heavy on their back or overhead every week. They may PR or they may not, That’s not the point the stimulus is met. In life, you don’t get to train for 12 weeks in a back squat cycle and try to hit records. Life gives you something heavy when you least expect it and in a life or death situation, you don’t want to wish you were at week 12 when you are only on week 4. You must be ready to lift something heavy any day of the week, and DCL athletes are ready. We use anywhere from 5 repetition maxes to 1 repetition maxes depending on the day and the reason for that is in our world of CrossFit we rarely go for 1 rep maxes as much as we go for high repetition maxes. We are just preparing our bodies for whatever life throws at us.
The Westside method uses the maximal effort method a bit different than us. They go for 1 rep maxes every week and constantly rotate the lift and bar. These athletes are literally the best in the world at what they do so we don’t necessarily have to do what they do. We stick with the same lift and max out a version of that lift every 4th week. For example week 1 we will do a 3 Rep max future method back squat, on week 2 we will do a pause 2 rep max back squat, and on week 3 we will do a 1 rep max back squat. What this does for our athletes is from beginner to advanced everyone can work on their technique and form on that lift and from there switch the lift before they accommodate to it. If you feel you need to change things up you can always add bands or chains to your lift, just to change things up a bit. Again the goal is to train your body to be ready to accept a heavy load.
If you want to see results in your life it’s always best to follow a system. When you follow a generic program you never get to understand the system. Again not all systems work for everyone but the system needs to be tailored to the athlete. When the program is built in house I can do just that, tailor the system to the needs of the athlete. Trust the process and you will see the results.

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