Dynamic Strength & Conditioning Training: 15 Exercises for Strength Development

What’s Dynamic Strength & Conditioning Training

Dynamic strength and conditioning training are conducted with the objective of improving the ability to exert force repeatedly and continuously over time. Sessions include strength and fatigue endurance exercises (Wong, 1980). These exercises involve movement, unlike isometric strength training in which there is work, but the muscles and joints do not move. There are an infinite number of movements in dynamic strength training, some of them being push-ups, squats or deadlifts.

Dynamic strength training is what we usually do when we train, either with an external load or with our own body weight. You’ve done dynamic strength training without knowing it, since any exercise in which your muscles lengthen and shorten is considered dynamic strength training. We can perform exercises to develop strength and muscle mass of the lower body, upper body and core.

Dynamic Strength Index

The dynamic strength index, also known as dynamic strength deficit, evaluates the difference between an athlete’s maximal and explosive strength capacity (Turner, 2009). This data provides information to coaches to use more volume of maximal strength work or higher speed with lower loads. To obtain it, simply measure the force production in an explosive or ballistic movement and compare it with the result of a maximal lifting test (Weiss, Fry, & Relyea, 2002).

An example that measures the dynamic strength index and gives us essential information to carry out dynamic strength training, is to compare a countermovement jump (CMJ) with a 1RM squat test. The result informs us, based on the athlete’s maximal strength, how much of that maximal strength he or she can use in ballistic and explosive movements in a short time (Thomas, Jones, & Comfort, 2015). With that data, the coach will be able to focus on high loads and low speeds work, or the opposite: low loads and high speeds.

Improving maximal strength is necessary for greater performance in jumps, sprints and all sports movements where force must be applied in a short space of time. However, it is mandatory not to forget about dynamic strength training using low loads and exceedingly high speeds, since the optimization of performance will be given by a balance between both manifestations of strength: maximal and ballistic (Suchomel, Nimphius, & Stone, 2016).

To calculate the dynamic force index there is a manual method, which is explained in some research (Weiss et al., 2002; Young, Haff, Newton, Gabbett, & Sheppard, 2015). We can also choose to measure the movements with the Vitruve velocity meter that will give us the peak force achieved in the ballistic test and in the maximal force test. To obtain the result, we will simply divide the first by the second and we will have the dynamic force index. The closer it is to the value “1”, the more balance there will be between one and the other. The closer it is to the value “0”, the greater the imbalance between the two.

Dynamic-Strength Training Exercises for Lower Body

As we discussed at the beginning of this article, dynamic strength and conditioning training includes a long list of exercises that require stretching and muscle contraction. The lower body dynamic strength training exercises on this list are the most basic, yet effective, and we list them in pairs: one of them focuses more on maximal strength, although it will depend on the weight used and the speed at which we do it, and the other focuses on more explosive strength. This list is missing many, many exercises, such as plyometrics, which can also be added to dynamic strength training.

Barbell Squat & Jumping Jacks With Elastic Band

Squats are the star movement for dynamic strength training of the lower body. It allows us to put a large amount of load and challenge the stability of our entire body. On the opposite side are band assisted jumps in which the load is incredibly low, and the speed is maximal. 

Deadlift & Swing

Deadlift is the favorite exercise of many athletes because it allows us to challenge the dynamic strength of the whole body to the maximum. If we are looking for a similar movement, but performed at much higher speed, we can perform the swing, which also works the muscles surrounding the hip, but in this case with a lower load and a much higher speed.

Hip Thrust & Broad Jumps

If we are looking for dynamic strength training focused on horizontal displacement to improve qualities such as sprinting, the hip thrust, and broad jumps are two fundamental exercises. In both cases we are looking for a back-and-forth hip thrust, using the hip thrust to move heavy loads, and thebroad jumps to apply that force in the shortest possible time. 

Walking Lunges & Jumping Lunges

Lunges should not be missing in our dynamic strength training, as they are the movement that will help us the most when executing changes of direction in the field, and to apply force with one leg. walking Lunges will be done with extra load, such as dumbbells or chains hanging on the shoulders, while the Jumping Lunges will seek to reach as high as possible in each repetition.

Deadlifts With Hex Bar & Box Jumps

The hexagonal bar is one of the most interesting special bars to use for dynamic strength training. We can use it to hex bar deadlift, as it puts much less stress on the lower back than doing it with a conventional bar. On the other side of the strength-speed curve are box jumps, which are the best exercise for beginners in plyometrics, before starting with more aggressive jumps.

Tire Flips & Cleans

The last of the pairs we propose for dynamic lower body strength training is the tire flip and one of the two Olympic movements: the clean. Both exercises are very complete and challenging and can be performed at higher or lower speed depending on the weight of the tire and the bar.

Dynamic-Strength Training Exercises for Upper Body

Dynamic strength training of the upper body follows the same line as the previous section in which we have seen six pairs of exercises for the lower body. As we have already mentioned, there are countless exercises to train maximum strength and explosive strength, but here are the basics, and you can add many more options. 

Bench Press & Plyo Push-Ups

The first two dynamic upper body strength training exercises are the classics: bench presses and push-ups. Both movements improve horizontal strength in the push-ups. In the case of the bench press, we can load the bar to do a few repetitions with high demand or decrease the load and move it faster. There is even the option of throwing the bar, a movement that is best performed on a Smith machine for safety reasons. plyo push-ups develop that peak strength in the shortest time possible that we are interested in sports features such as a pass in basketball, or a punch in boxing. 

Parallel Dips & Medicine Ball-Front Throw

This pair of exercises has similar objectives to the previous one. Parallel dips aim to train dynamic strength with our own body weight, or by adding an extra load, while diving medicine ball throws is on the complete opposite side of the strength-velocity curve, and will be the part to work on if the dynamic strength index has a lot of difference between maximal strength and ballistic strength.

Military Press & Push Press

Dynamic strength training in the vertical vector is performed with the  military press overhead as the basic exercise. This same movement can be performed at much higher speed if a smaller load is placed and we help ourselves with the legs, an exercise known as push press. Both options will improve the dynamic strength of your push-ups, one with a greater focus on maximal strength and the other with a greater focus on explosive strength.

Pull-Ups & Muscle Ups

The star exercises for athletes to perform their dynamic strength training when it comes to pulling are the pull ups. If we can’t complete any repetitions, we will switch exercises or use an elastic band to help us raise our chin over the bar. The muscle up is an action that needs much more explosiveness to finish the movement with the trunk completely above the bar, so it would fit more in the group of exercises for strength development with high speed.

Barbell Row & Sled Row

The final pair for dynamic upper body strength training consists of two horizontal pull-ups, which are necessary for movements such as tackles in American soccer or rugby, and many other actions of the game. The barbell row needs to be performed in a slow and controlled manner. You can change it to an inverted row, holding on to a support such as a Smith machine and pulling your body to bring your chest to the bar. The explosive sled row is one of the best exercises for training the application of strength in a short amount of time.

Dynamic Strength Training Exercises for Core

The third and last group of exercises to be introduced in dynamic strength training is oriented to the core. On this occasion, the exercises do not go in pairs, since it is preferable to use the same exercise modifying the load, in this way we can execute it more slowly and with more load, or in a more explosive way with less load. 

Core Chops & Rotational Med Ball Throws

In this first example of dynamic strength training exercises, we propose two movements. The first of these is known as  core chop and can be performed from the top down, or from the bottom up. You should give it a mix of control and explosiveness. The second of the exercises is rotation med ball throws, in which we seek to throw the ball with the highest possible speed. We can see the transfer in sporting gestures such as a golf swing or batting in baseball. 

Turkish Get-Up

The Turkish get-up is considered one of the most complete movements our athlete can perform. It is very technical, but once we learn the basic steps, we can add more load until we try to beat our own personal records.

Bent Press

The bent press is the “little brother” of the Turkish get-up. It follows the same dynamics, but the movements to be performed are different, focusing on the lateral part of our trunk. In addition, while doing the movement, we will improve other physical qualities such as hip mobility and stability of our shoulders. 

Landmine Twist

The last of the fifteen exercises to develop dynamic strength and cordage is one of my favorites to work the core. The ladmine twist allows you to introduce a lot of acceleration to the exercise, as well as deceleration, since you’ll have to be continually speeding up and slowing down the bar. Once your technique is optimal, you will notice how it activates your entire core. 

Joaquín Vico Plaza

Bibliographical References

Suchomel, T. J., Nimphius, S., & Stone, M. H. (2016). The Importance of Muscular Strength in Athletic Performance. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 46(10), 1419–1449. https://doi.org/10.1007/S40279-016-0486-0

Thomas, C., Jones, P. A., & Comfort, P. (2015). Reliability of the Dynamic Strength Index in college athletes. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 10(5), 542–545. https://doi.org/10.1123/IJSPP.2014-0255

Turner, A. (2009). Training For Power : Principles And Practice. Profesional Strength and Conditioning, 20–32.

Weiss, L. W., Fry, A. C., & Relyea, G. E. (2002). Explosive strength deficit as a predictor of vertical jumping performance. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 16(1), 83–86.

Wong, H. (1980). Dynamic tension, 134.

Young, K. P., Haff, G. G., Newton, R. U., Gabbett, T. J., & Sheppard, J. M. (2015). Assessment and monitoring of ballistic and maximal upper-body strength qualities in athletes. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 10(2), 232–237. https://doi.org/10.1123/IJSPP.2014-0073


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Joaquín Vico Plaza
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