Westside Barbell- Condensed
This is a writeup I've taken from clutchfitness by westside24....
1) What IS Westside Barbell, where is it, and how did it start up?
2) What are the main points of Westside Barbell training?
To lead it off here....What IS Westside Barbell, where is it, and how did it start up?
The Westside Barbell club is located in Columbus, Ohio and is known to be the home of some of the STRONGEST men in the world. It was originally stared by Louie Simmons, a longtime competitive powerlifter. Louie had trained for years under the standard periodization and progressive overload principles that have been practiced in our country for years. After herniating his back, tearing both biceps, and blowing out his knee, Louie started looking for a more efficient and safe method of training for strength. What he found after reading and studying various strength programs from the former soviet union and eastern europe led him to start the Westside Barbell Club. To give you an idea, the gym 20ft by 40ft roughly. Many think a collection of strength such as I’m going to talk about are in some "Super high-tech" training facility with lots of cute machines, and tons of doctors/ scientists disposing tons of drugs to make the lifters all the more "superhuman". This is NOT the case with Westside. Inside this gym, you’ll find the following:
36 Members squat 800+ pounds! (This # has since gone up)
45 Members bench 550+ pounds (This # has also gone up)
8 members dl 800+ pounds (This # has also gone up)
As you can see....unlike other gyms....Westside has a larger collection of strength then any other gym that I know of IN THE WORLD. Their entire training regime is geared towards increasing their bench, squat, and deadlift. Their training program is what I’m going to explain to you in the rest of this post.
What are the main points of Westside Training?
Westside training incorporates many training techniques that were used by the soviet union during the 70’s and 80’s. It also uses many techniques utilized in eastern european countries. In case if you didn’t know, this period in history was DOMINATED by these countries...so apparantly they were doing something right.
The two MAIN principles of WS training are:
ME or "Maximal Effort" days
DE or "Dynamic Effort" days
The problem with many people training for strength, is they have no idea how strength and SPEED are both neccessary in order to move weight.
The laws of physics state:
POWER =s Force x Distance divided by TIME
So, how do you generate more POWER??
1) Heavier resistance moved in the same movement time as lighter over the same distance ( Move HEAVIER weight)
2) Same weight with faster movement time (Be FASTER)
To give you an examlpe of why speed is important....picture this:
Your laying down on a flat bench press. Now imagine someone holds a 2x4 over your chest in the imaginary line where your "stick point" on bench would be. If you press into the 2x4 slowly what happens? It would be a matter of who would be stronger, you, or the person holding the 2x4.
NOW, imagine you press the bar into the 2x4 as FAST as possible. What happens then? If your FAST enough, you will smash right through the board, or at the very least, push the board UP a few inches.
SPEED is ESSENTIAL in order to develop maximal strength, and THAT is where I think bodybuilding falls short. Bodybuilding is very focused on slow, controlled movements. Obviously this is important for time under tension, and to create a solid muscle pump. HOWEVER, a bodybuilder is usually SLOW, because he/she never trains for SPEED.
How does WS train for speed? Simple. DE days!
On DE days, the focus is on increasing the SPEED of your bench, squat, and deadlift. This trains your body to be more efficient at recruiting muscle fibers, and allows you to apply maximal speed to enable you to move through stick points.
On DE days, you train with submaximal weight (50-60% of your max), and your goal is bar speed. You still want to keep the weight under control, but your focus is on moving the bar AS FAST as possible!
There are 2 DE days, one for the Bench, and another for the Squat, and DL. The reason the Squat, and DL are trained on the same day, is because they use similar muscle groups.
Ok, so now we have speed down, what about STRENGTH!
Strength is gained on Maximal Effort days or ME days.
Once again, there are 2 days dedicated to this. One day for the bench, and another for the squat, and deadlift. On ME days, the focus isn’t on speed, but rather...it is on lifting the MAXIMAL amount of weight possible in a core exercise.
When I say CORE exercise, I mean an exercise that would assist in increasing your bench, squat, or deadlift. Here is where many programs fail. Progressive overload systems have you constantly working the Squat, Bench, and Deadlift. These movements done week in and week out pose an EXTREME stress on the CNS (Central Nervous System) of your body. This eventually leads to you being fatigued and your strength WILL plateau in time. Studies have been shown that lifting with maximal weights (over 90% of 1RM) for more then 3 weeks have a negative effect on training gains.
SO, how do you max out twice a week, year round, and not plateau?
THE CONJUGATE method! This was a method WS adopted from the former soviet union. It features exercises that CLOSELY mimick the bench, squat, and deadlift. These exercises are rotated week in, and week out to ensure your CNS doesn’t adapt.
Some exercises that are SIMILAR to the squat, and use the same muscle groups are:
Good Mornings bent leg
Good Mornings with a stiff leg
Good Mornings suspended from Chains
Good Mornings with bands
Good Morning "Squats"
Box Squats below parallel
Box Squats above parallel
Box Squats with bands
Stiff Legged Deadlifts
Some that are similar to the bench press:
1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Board press
Close Grip Bench Press
Incline Bench Press
Decline Bench Press
As you can see, there are MANY variations of exercises you can use. The key with ME days is to attempt to lift a maximal weight for 1, 2, or 3 reps. For most begginers, I would tell you to start with a 1RM, as a 3RM can be quite taxing.
So, to summarize the key points of ME and DE days:
DE days: Be FASTER on your DE exercise
ME days: Get STRONGER on your ME exericse, that constantly changes
So thats it??? Thats all I need to do in order to get strong?
The answer to that is NO! Here is where we get into additional work that you need to do on both your ME, and DE days in order to build strength you never dreamed possible.
The first principle that WS teaches, is to BUILD your weaknesses! Far too many people neglect them, and wonder why they aren’t getting stronger. Where your sticking point is might be TOTALLY different from someone else. THe key here is to KNOW where you are weak at, and work to overcome it.
After Bench days, you will work the main suporting muscles for the bench. These are some that I’ve found work exceptionally well:
The triceps (extensions with Db’s or a barbell...or a pressing movement)
The lats (rows of all kinds on the same plane as the bench: bent over BB rows, 1 arm DB rows, Tbar rows)
The shoulders / upper back (rotator cuff work, rear delt raises, shrugs)
IN that order. THOSE are the muscles that assist the most, and are often overlooked when going for a big bench. As far as volume, I would say pick one exercise for each bodypart. 3 sets of 6-8 reps is good to start with for each exercise. The KEY here is not to go to failure, but rather to stress the muscle, and build on your weakpoints.
After Squat/Dl days, you will work these muscles:
The hamstrings (Glute/Ham Raises (GHR’s), Dimel Deadlifts, Pullthroughs
The Glutes Pullthroughs, Low pause squats
The lower back Reverse Hypers, Hyperextensions, Rack Pulls
The abdominals Weighted ab movements of all kinds
THOSE are the muscles that assist the most with the squat, and deadlift. The volume for this would be the same as on bench days. 1 exercise per movement, and 3 sets of 6-8 reps to start. Once again, do NOt go to failure.
The volume of Westside is relatively low compared to a bodybuilding program. You WILL not get the same kind of hypertrophy that you would on a bodybuilding program either. HOWEVER, you WILL notice huge increases in strength, and over time....the increased force placed on your body, along with your body adapting to heavier movements WILL lead the growth. The REASON for this low volume is it allows you to focus ALL your energies on either your DE, or ME exercises. THESE are what will make you stronger! The accessory exercises are normally done with higher volume then your main movements, HOWEVER you do NOT want to go to failure on these most of the time. All the heavy, compound movements week in, and week out will get very taxing on your CNS, and your body in general.
As far as other guidlines:
1) In general you want a day apart between your ME days. Back to back maxing can and WILL wear you out fast.
2) You generally want to seperate your DE, and ME days for both the squat and bench by 72hrs
3) Volume on your main movement for DE days would be 10 sets of 2 reps for the squat, 8 sets of 3 reps for the bench, and 6 sets of 1 rep for the deadlift. These #ís come from extensive testing on WSBB lifters by Louie, and is what they seem to respond best to. In my experience, I go by my own bar speed. Sometimes my speed is off a little, so Iíll do lower volume. Sometimes my bar speed is high, so I do a little more volume.
4) Intensity on DE days.... 50-60% of your max for squat and DL, and 50-60% of your max for bench. The key here is NOT to lift maximal weights, but go for MAXIMAL speed. You are NOT going to be fast lifting maximal weights, so this is why your lifting relatively "light" weight
5) Volume on your main movmeent for ME days is really left up to the lifter. I generally warmup with triples, consistently adding weight till it gets heavy. Then I drop to singles. I would tell you to use no more then 8 sets total (warmup, and working) before going for your 1RM. Take plenty of rest in between.
6) Intensity on ME days. I normally tell people to try and beat their previous max by 5lbs. Far too many people try throwing an additional 20lbs on the bar from the previous session, then are angry they donít get it. Building strength takes TIME people! Its taken me 5 YEARS of hard training to tickle a 475bench....so donít expect it to happen overnight. Since you are constantly switching exercises on ME days, it always gives you a new goal to shoot for, and keeps you from getting bored of the same exercises.
7) Rotate your ME exercises every 1-3 weeks depending on how advanced you are. This prevents CNS fatigue, and keeps your body adapting to different types of stress.
Hereís just a sample layout of what a 2 week begginer program would look like:
Monday: ME Squat/DL day
Me movement: Stiff leg Good Mornings...work up to a max single
Supplemental movement for hamstrings: Glute/Ham raises 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Accessory movment for glutes/hams: Pullthroughs 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Accessory movement for lower back Hyperextensions: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Accessory movmeent for the abdominals: 3 sets of 8-12 reps (Iíve always found higher reps work best for abdominal movements)
Wed: ME Bench day
ME movement: Close grip bench press...work up to a max single
Supplemental movement for triceps: DB Floor press 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Accessory mvmt for lats: Bent over barbell rows: 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Accessory mvmt for shoulders: External Rotations with DBís 3 sets of 8-12 (Once again, Iíve found high reps work best for rotator cuff muscles)
Thursday: DE Squat/DL
DE Movement: Box Squats 10 sets of 2 reps @ 60% of max
DE Movement: Speed Deadlifts 6 sets of 1 rep @ 60% of max
Same supplemental, and accessory movements as on ME day
Friday: Misc. Day
This is a day where I work muscle groups that arneít worked in a typical WS routine. This is also a day where you can bring up ONE weakpoint. Donít go crazy, and do a fullblown workout. Just something to add more volume to one weakspot, and work other muscles that are overlooked. An example would be:
Bicep curls 3 sets of 8 reps
Shoulder Shrugs 3 sets of 8 reps
Calf Raises 3 sets of 8 reps
Glute/Ham Raises 3 sets of 8 reps
Saturday: DE Bench day
DE Bench 8 sets of 3 reps at 60% of your max
Same supplemental, and accessory exercises as on ME bench day
Your goals for the next week would be to beat your previous PR in the ME Bench, and ME Squat/ DL exercise by at least 5lbs. You should also notice your speed on DE Bench, and DE Squat/DL getting a little faster. Generally what I would tell people is to do 7 week cycles. You would have 3 2 week cycles where you would change your ME movement, and assistance exercises. Then on week 7 you would find your NEW maxes to work off of for %ís on DE days. There are more principles involved with this, but Iíll direct you right to the source:
Also check out:
That site is run by Dave Tate. Heís trained under Louie for years, and is about THE smartest man I know when it comes to strength and conditioning. Many of the WS articles are listed there in more detail.
Good luck, stay strong, and be proud!
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