by Rachel Gitles and Justin Quandt

Jenni Hartman dynamic effort front squats at The Foundry

Dynamic effort lifting does a body good

“Alright guys, we’re going into dynamic lifting. 3 reps on the minute for 10 rounds. What’s your 1-RM?”

Recently, you probably have noticed the coaches introducing this component of the workout with increased frequency. Perhaps you breathed a sigh of relief or perhaps you you started dreading the next ten minutes. Whatever your perspective, dynamic lifting plays a crucial role in our overall training program.

Dynamic lifting involves lifting sub-maximal loads with increased volume and maximum speed. The benefits of dynamic effort lifting are numerous. In addition to conditioning our muscles, the greater benefit comes through taxing the central nervous system. When we maintain a fixed percentage of 1-RM for low reps and high sets, we improve the connection between our brain and our muscles, also known as neural drive. This technique compliments maximum effort lifting to increase strength, stamina, and power. Power is especially crucial for athletic movements used in sports, METCON’s and other life activities.

With that in mind, here are some guidelines to get the most out of dynamic lifting:


  1. Choose a weight you can maintain for the duration of the routine. If the board calls for 85% but you compromise form or start to fail, you need to reduce accordingly to maintain technique.
  2. Practice explosive speed! Improvement will come from performing the lift with good form and high speed.
  3. Take the time to record and remember your 1-RM results. The coaches do not know everyone’s PR in every lift and we cannot guide your weight choices effectively if you do not know your 1RM’s on the major lifts.


Satisfaction in CrossFit often comes when we learn a new skill or achieve a new lifting PR. Think of dynamic lifting as an opportunity to improve your brain and muscles so that you can make gains the next time you lift heavy or practice a skill. It may not be your most heart pumping part of the workout, but it is the foundation for improving strength and efficiency in all other aspects of your fitness.