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Compensatory Acceleration Training

CAT Training

This simple technique can help you get more muscle out of every rep.

By Josh Bryant, MS, CSCS

No matter what you’re doing in the gym, I can get better results with your program than you can, guaranteed.

Don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not saying my genetics are better than yours, nor am I claiming to work harder than you. Instead, it’s all about the way I perform my reps when I train. Using compensatory acceleration training (CAT), I always get the maximum overload from each rep, set and workout.

Bad Intentions

If you want to move big weights, you need to move the barbell as fast as possible with compound exercises. I call this “movement intention.” The idea is to move lighter weights fast to build your explosive strength. This will cause your body to adapt to the intent of your central nervous system (CNS), and you’ll learn to move loads more explosively.

Squats are toughest during the bottom portion of a rep. Thus, many guys, upon getting out of the hole and moving to the halfway point of their range of motion, coast their way through the rest of the rep until lockout.

This is misguided. When your leverage improves at this half-squat position, you need to go against this instinct and “compensate” by moving the weight faster. Doing so will cause your muscles to produce maximal force through the entire rep.

This doesn’t mean going out of control. “Slamming a weight to the end point of the range of motion certainly would cause injury,” says Dr. Fred Hatfield, recognized as the iron game’s foremost authority on CAT. “However, the learning curve associated with slowing the movement down just before lockout is very small. Anyone can learn to do this on the first try.”

The Same, But Different

Let’s say you’re performing a squat workout that entails doing four sets of five reps at the same weight for each set. Operating under the premise that most guys use the “coasting” method described above, here is what happens through these four sets:

  • Set One: None of the squats will be heavy enough to stimulate any overload. Efficiency rating: 0 percent.
  • Set Two: Only the bottom half of the last rep will require enough intensity for overload. Efficiency rating: 10 percent.
  • Set Three: The bottom half of the last two reps will provide overload. Efficiency rating: 20 percent.
  • Set Four: The bottom half of all five reps will produce overload. Efficiency rating: 50 percent.

This workout consisted of 20 total repetitions, but only eight halves produced the kind of overload that gets you stronger. That’s a 20 percent efficiency rating. Try telling your boss that you’re efficient only 20 percent of the time, and you’ll be out of a job in a hurry.

In contrast, if all 20 reps were performed with maximal force, you’d be much stronger over time. This is why I’ll get better results than you if you keep coasting. Force equals mass x acceleration. Lifting lighter weights CAT-style will enable you to produce maximal force with less strain on your CNS.


Josh Bryant, MS, CSCS, trains some of the strongest and most muscular athletes in the world at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and via the Internet. He is the co-author of Amazon #1 selling book, Jailhouse Strong. To learn more about Josh Bryant or to sign up for his free training tips newsletter, visit www.JoshStrength.com

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