By Louie Simmons, WestSide Barbell
It takes proper technique, proper periodization, and special exercises (with correct selection) to fulfill your weaknesses. Combine these with a balance of strengths... and you're ready.
Westside has over 70-800lb squatters, 19 over 1000lbs, 6 over 1100lbs, and 2-1200lb squatters. It's easy when you know how.
What is Perfect Technique?
First, place the bar high on your back, sitting on the mid traps. Grab the bar, wrapping your thumbs around it, while positioning your feet at least shoulder width apart. If you are flexible, it's preferred to keep the feet wider, and pointed out slightly. Arch the back and hold air in your abdomen. To lift the bar out, arch your back and push your feet apart while clearing the rack.
As you push out on your feet, force your knees apart. Keep your chest high by continuing to arch your back, and push your glutes out until you reach parallel. Next, drive your upper back into the bar. Never push through your feet first to come back up- this causes one to bend at the waist, and good morning the bar up as a result. Continue to arch your back and push outward on your feet. Box squatting technique is exactly the same, with the exception of releasing the hip muscles while sitting on the box during the concentric phase.
Squatting requires two training days a week, with 72 hours apart for recovery. Day one is the Dynamic Method; for Westsiders this is Friday where you speed squat at 50%-60% of your 1 rep max in a three-week wave.
Here are two sample workouts for a 600lb squatter:
For speed-strength, add 25% band tension at the top for accommodating resistance; this helps to eliminate bar deceleration. After a three-week wave, add band tension or weight by adding chain to the bar. One should change bars regularly if possible, or change the width of the stance. One could even change bar placement from a front to a high bar squat, for those who can overhead squat.
Max Effort Day
Seventy-two hours later, Westside will max out on a special squat, rack pull, or pull standing on a 2" or 4' box. You can switch from sumo to conventional style, but pick one type of squat or pull to max on. What does max out mean? Work up to a max all-time single repetition.
On this day, good mornings can also be done in any style- arched back, bent over, wide stance, or close stance. Always switch your max effort exercise each week, but max out with as much as possible on that day. The Max Effort Method is best for raising your personal records for training or a contest.
On both days, special exercises must be done for low back, hamstrings, glutes, hips, upper back, and of course- abs. Westside likes a lot of rowing exercises, whether it's with a bar, dumbbells, or plates by way of both upright rows and shrugs for the upper back. Reverse hypers, back raises, and/or light good mornings for high reps will follow the upper back. Glute-ham raises (GHR) for high reps, leg curls with bands or ankle weights, or inverse curls would be next for hamstrings.
You must recover in between workouts. Since one training day is high volume and moderate intensity with very quick muscle contraction and the max effort day can be stressful on your central nervous system (CNS), your GPP must be high.
General Physical Preparedness (GPP)
Westside uses a lot of sled dragging and pushing of the strong man wheel barrow to increase their level of conditioning. They also do very high reps (up to 100) with light weights on tricep pushdowns, leg curls, shrugs, calf work, and pec work to thicken connective tissue for both increased stored kinetic energy, and injury prevention.
List of M.E. Exercises:
This is just a partial list to choose from. Westside does 80% of their training with special exercises, and only 20% is some type of box squatting, benching, or deadlift.
We use one type of statistical method, known as a web. Inside the web, special exercises should have a balance from one another. I will give two examples below- for a 500lb squat, and a 600lb squat:
You must not lack in any one category, or you will cease to improve, or worse- get injured. This web, if followed correctly, will ensure you have a balanced physique and not overstress any body part.
If you put these together, the sky is the limit.