AT A GLANCE

What is the conjugate method and how does it fit into a fitness workout routine? In short, the conjugate method breaks down training routines into rotating weekly sessions to accommodate for your physical needs and mix up your target areas. In this article, we’ll break down the conjugate method by discussing session breakouts and analyzing the pros and cons of this method.


What is the Conjugate Method?

The term “conjugate” means to combine two or more things. In the fitness world, the conjugate method is the act of rotating your exercises in and out of a workout session to accommodate your physical needs and maximize your strength. The idea behind the conjugate method is that you utilize the same patterns in a workout routine with great variation which translates to an improvement in performance while simultaneously, meeting multiple fitness needs.

The idea behind this method was first brought to the public’s attention by Louie Simmons, an American powerlifter and current strength coach. However, its origins date back to the early 1970s when weightlifters from the Dynamo fitness Club began rotating their exercises and lifts. The conjugate method focuses on the principle of multiple training methods to improve numerous athletic and fitness qualities. The method’s area of development revolves around strength, speed, and longevity in training. Proponents of this method focus on the need for structure and coordination in weekly workout sessions. What’s important to note is that the conjugate method incorporates three methods as part of a weekly training session which will be discussed in the next section. These are maximal, dynamic, and repetition effort.

The conjugate method is the act of rotating your exercises in and out of a workout session to accommodate your physical needs and maximize your strength
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What does a Conjugate Method session look like?

A conjugate method session is a combination of maximum, dynamic, and repetition workouts as part of a weekly training session. As stated earlier, a conjugate workout combines multiple routines within one workout session or multiple sessions. The key to developing a functional and well-coordinated routine is to focus on maximizing your strength, speed, and power. As part of a weekly training session, your methods should include the following:

  • Maximum effort targeting upper and lower body (strength performance)
  • Dynamic effort targeting upper and lower body (speed performance)
  • Repetition exercises (done simultaneously along with maximum and dynamic efforts)

It’s important to distinguish these pathways as doing so will allow you to develop a well-coordinated routine that maximizes strength, speed, and power. For maximum effort, you should focus on developing strength via muscle fibers. This can be done by lifting weights, bench pressing, or working with dumbbells. The key here is to reach a 1RM on your upper and lower body muscles. A 1RM is simply the maximum amount of weight that you can lift for a given exercise. You can also do this through a variation of squat and deadlift exercises. When deciding how often you should perform a maximum workout, it’s important to look at your fitness situation. According to Louie Simmons who did an interview with the CrossFit Journal, a severe workout can be completed every 72 hours.

The next method ‘dynamic effort’, focuses on speed and explosiveness. Unlike maximum effort, dynamic effort does not emphasize heavy lifting or heavy weights. Instead, you should focus on activating your muscle fibers and building up your speed by lifting light weights. For your first week, you should aim for around 40% of your max strength. You should then increase that to 45-50% in the following weeks as you start gaining strength. For repetition effort, your focus should be on muscle activation during periods of fatigue. You should also focus on increasing your muscle mass. The idea here is to take your sets to a point of muscle fatigue while targeting specific areas.

A conjugate method is a combination of maximum, dynamic, and repetition workouts as part of a weekly training session
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What are the benefits and drawbacks of the Conjugate Method?

The benefit of the conjugate method is that you develop an interesting routine that incorporates multiple sessions to accommodate your workout needs. You can mix up potential areas of improvement while also focusing on volume, intensity, strength, and performance. In other words, you allow yourself to be flexible to changes while working on all your abilities. This way, you won’t have to worry about losing your ability in a certain area such as muscle mass or speed performance. Another interesting point to make is that maximum and dynamic effort training can contribute to an improvement in a certain fitness area. According to a study that examined squat press performance, powerlifters who went through an eight week maximum and dynamic training program, saw significant improvement in their squat press performance compared to those in a normal training program.

The drawback of the conjugate method lies in the idea that a maximum effort workout is not ideal for beginners. If you’re just starting out, it might be harmful to put your muscles under such a high load and intensity. In such a case, it might be better to find a training method that is best suited to your current limits and work your way up. Ultimately, what’s important is that you do your own research on the conjugate method and make an honest evaluation of this fitness method.

Is the Conjugate Method right for me?

When deciding whether or not the conjugate method is right for you, it’s important to make an honest self-assessment. If you feel that your current routine is limiting your process and not providing you with significant workout results, then a conjugate training routine might be worth looking into. However, just like any other fitness plan, a conjugate method routine must be carefully analyzed before jumping into it. The key is to assess your own fitness state and focus on developing a program that works for you.

Overall, the conjugate method provides fitness enthusiasts with a rotating workout routine that incorporates maximum, dynamic, and repetition training as part of a weekly training regime. It provides flexibility and allows you to target individual areas that you want to improve on. If you’re trying to decide if this training program is right for you, we recommend that you do your own research and analysis for guidance.

 

A benefit of the conjugate method is that you develop an interesting routine that incorporates multiple sessions to accommodate your workout needs
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Take Home Points:
  • A conjugate method is the act of rotating your exercises in a weekly session.
  • A conjugate method program incorporates maximum, dynamic, and repetition exercises to help maximize your strength and target certain areas.
  • With a conjugate method routine you become flexible and work on different areas that you want to improve on.
  • A drawback of the conjugate method routine is that a maximum performance routine is not ideal for beginners.
  • When deciding if a conjugate method routine is right for you, it’s important to make an honest assessment of your fitness circumstances and analyze the research of this training program.
Articles References

Werner, G. (n.d). Conjugate Strength Training For Athletic Performance. Sports Medicine and Performance. Retrieved from http://educ.jmu.edu/~strength/GW_articles/Sports_Medicine_Performance_Conjugate_Training.htm
Simmons, L. (2011, June). The Westside Conjugate System. The Cross Fit Journal. Retrieved from http://library.crossfit.com/free/pdf/CFJ_Simmons_Conjugate.pdf
Dhondage, S., Pardeshi, S. (2017). Effect of eight weeks maximum and dynamic effort training program. International Journal of Physical Education, Sports and Health, 4(6), 159-161. Retrieved from http://www.kheljournal.com/archives/2017/vol4issue6/PartC/5-4-38-103.pdf

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