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Review of Muscular Tension

posted on August 3, 2020

One of the best books one can read to understand training (IMO) is  “Science and Practice of Strength Training,” by Vladimir Zatriorksy. Dr. Zatriorsky was a professor at Penn State for years and I was lucky enough to meet him and spend time trying to understand what he was saying (he is really smart).


In the book he discusses the three methods to increase muscular tension. This is important to understand if you want to increase your strength levels. I have listed the three methods to increase muscular tension, I also added in descriptions and examples of each.


  1. Dynamic Effort Method- This is moving a light weight as fast as possible. This could be doing anything from jumping to throwing or doing any explosive lift. Louie Simmons made this popular with speed bench and speed squats. Dr. Fred Hatfield also helped grow this method in his book “Bodybuilding, A Scientific Approach.” He used the term Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT). While I do not think these are 100% interchangeable I do believe they are similar enough that you can replace one with the other. Either way keep your reps between 3-6 and move something explosively.
  2. Maximal Effort Method- This is the exact opposite of Dynamic Effort. Now the intent is to move a heavy load. Velocity can, and often will, drop below .2 m/s. In lifter terms this is learning how to strain against a heavy weight. This is a very effective way to increase strength yet we must be cautious as technique will often break down and the opportunity for overtraining exists here.
  3. Repetition Effort Method- This is the method everyone knows. The goal here is to train a muscle until it fatigues. This could be done with 3×10 or for timed sets 3×45 seconds. One variation I believe we should highlight here is escalating density training. This is done by doing lower reps with very short rest periods. One could do pull ups for 20 sets of 3 with 10 seconds rest. This is a way to achieve huge volume and a ton of reps without letting technique break down.


This is just a short overview of these methods and entire college course could be taught on this yet I want all of you to have the basic understanding of what is going on. If you ever want to talk any further on this topic please stop me as I could go on for days. So maybe ask someone else as I wouldn’t want to bore you.




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