Speed training. Dynamic squats.
One of the more unusual parts of Westside training is the inclusion of speed, or dynamic, days. On a typical Westside program you would do 2 heavy days (max effort) and 2 speed days (dynamic). Typically on a speed day you would not use more then 50% of your 1 rep max weight and the focus would be on trying to accelerate the weight as fast as humanly possible. The idea of the dynamic training is that it trains the muscle to recruit as many individual muscle fibres as possible and get them all working together. You see, it seems our muscle fibres are a little on the stupid side and don’t play well with others. Obviously, the more muscle fibres you can bring to the party the more force you’ll be able to generate and, therefore, the more weight you should be able to lift. But how do we get all our little fish swimming in the same direction? There are a few ways this can be achieved. The first is through simple repetition of what ever movement you’re trying to improve, which is why when you do your warm up sets you should really concentrate on having perfect form. The other way to improve muscle recruitment is through load. The more load you can force your muscles to exert against the more fibres will get in on the act. Finally there is dynamic activation, or speed training. I want to get all physics-like on your arse now, don’t worry, I’m an idiot, so this won’t be too complicated. P = W/t Power (P) = Work (W) over time (t). So what this means is the amount of power (the rate of which work is done or energy is converted) you use on an exercise is a result of the Work (for this read the amount of weight you’re going to heave around) and the speed you lift it. In simple terms if you want to increase your power you have to increase the weight or decrease the amount of time needed to perform the task, i.e: lift the damn bar quicker.
Westside is a conjugate training program, which means that rather then focusing on 1 aspect of training you try to improve everything across the board. The max effort training increases the amount of load, dynamic training decreases our time spent performing the movement and the accessory exercises give us the repetition.
Today was a speed squat day. I chose to do box squats as my main movement and will probably keep this as my speed day exercise. As always I worked up from an empty bar (20kg) to my working weight (100kg) gradually, at all times trying to improve my technique. I’ve found that by pushing my knees out and my arse back as far as I can has helped my form a lot. Also keeping my shoulder blades squeezed tightly together and my lower back arched ensures that my torso is locked into position and allows me to push with my legs all the harder. I did 10 sets of 2 reps with less then a minutes rest. The sweat was pumping off me after about 3 sets and by the end of it I looked like a drowned rat. The weight was nothing and doing only 2 reps was no great demands on my non-existent cardio condition BUT doing every rep with all the explosive force I could muster was savage.
Next I did banded front squats an inhuman exercise banned by the Geneva convention. What you do is take some gigantic elastic bands and stretch them between a bar and some thing secure on or near the ground. It looks something like this: