There are two traits of conjugate style programming that most lifters are familiar with: you train multiple strength attributes (dynamic effort and max effort) each week, and you use a variety of specialty exercises to build weaknesses. The second part often leads to confusion — what specialty exercises are good for max effort work? Do you need to change the max effort exercise each week? What if you don't want to do specialty exercises at all and instead want to do the competition movements as your max effort work? Will the program still be effective?

For today's Table Talk, Dave answers these questions. Instagram user @pudgypwrlifter asked:

"Opinions on using a conjugate style template but on max effort days using the competition lift and attempting rep PR's as opposed to a heavy single with a variation? Accessory work will be used for weak points."

Dave answers responds with several specific points about max effort work:

  1. When you do max effort work, you have to strain. This means working at over 90% of your one-rep max. You can't do this week after week with the competition lifts.
  2. Beat your PRs, but don't go balls-out every session. If you beat a PR by five pounds on a max effort lift, move on and beat it by more another day.
  3. You have to win the mental game with training. This won't happen if you start missing competition style lifts.
  4. Max effort movements should have a certain degree of correspondence to the competition lifts, but they don't have to be identical. Sometimes you can do max effort exercises that are far away from the competition movements.
  5. Good mornings are better for triples than they are for singles.
  6. When cycling max effort exercises, strategically progress your workload throughout the training cycle. This isn't easy, but it is possible.

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