Making Westside Work for You

I always have a few guys I train that are more into strength than bodybuilding. I train some powerlifters and a few guys doing strongmen events, and some guys that just want to get a s strong as possible. When that is the goal, they are USUALLY put on a modified Westside Barbell program. In case you haven't been exposed to Westside BB and their methods, here is a brief intro, and more importantly away to make Westside work for YOU if the suggested original format fails you. For more info on Westside see:

http://elitefts.com/

In the world of powerlifting one gym, and it's system of training pretty much dominates the sport. That gym is Westside Barbell, and the man that came up with the system is none other than the grand Guru of strength training Louis Simmons. Westside training is a complex system that takes the best of many different types of training protocols and fuses them together into a system that has proven to have no peers in the realm of pure strength training. And as an aside, there is enough hypertrophy specific training that size results also.


The System calls for a max effort day (one for bench, one for squats/deads) where you work up to a single in an assistance exercise that closely resembles the lifts themselves, examples are.

Bench Assistance:
close grip bench
floor press
board press
rack press
incline press

Squat/deadlift Assistance:
good mornings
low box squat
good morning squat
dead lift off pins
safety bar squat

The max effort work is followed by assistance work for reps using exercises like tricep extensions, close grips for reps, tricep pushdowns, glute/ham raises, reverse hypers, front squats, pullthroughs, various lat and shoulder work, various sled dragging. Their repertoire of assistance work is long and varied. Max effort exercises are rotated every two weeks for intermediates and every week for advanced trainees. Rep assistance work is rotated as needed. The one constant with this system is change. Very few workouts are ever the same.

Another day a week (again one day for bench, one day for squats/deads) is dedicated to "speed" work. The speed work is done by using a percentage of you max squat or bench and moving the weight as fast as possible to build explosive strength. The percentage varies but is in the 45-65% range. Thus a 400 lb bencher using 55% would do his sets with 220. The sets for bench are 3 reps as fast as possible. The idea is to try and generate 400 or more pounds of force on the bar by moving as fast as possible. For squats sets of 2 reps are done. 9-12 sets are done for both squat and bench. The squats are all done off a box set at below parallel. Regular squats are only done at the meet. Both days various assistance work for reps are done. The focus is always on weak points.

As you can see the schedule has one training four days a week, benching twice, and squatting twice. Louis gym, Westside Barbell has produced over 20 550 + benchers and 20 something 800 + squatters. Louis himself made a 920 lb squat this year at age 52! Westside and its methods has dominated powerlifting for years now. Obviously Louis has a lot of talent at his disposal, and it is a given that the system was developed using the best of the best, of the best lifters Louis could find.

Here is an EXAMPLE of how many Westside routines are structured. Please keep in mind many of Louis guys do things differently, and his top guys, and himself tend to do LOTS of extra workouts and GPP work. But this is an example of the basic framework.

Week 10


Day 1 (max effort squat day)
Pin Pulls: warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel that you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continuing working up to a one rep max
High Pulls: 3 sets of 6 reps
Reverse Hypers: 4 sets of 6 reps
Incline Sit Ups: 4 sets of 8 {pause at midpoint for 2 sec. then come back up}
Hanging Leg Raises: 4 sets to failure

Day 2 (max effort bench day)
Close Grip Board Press: warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel that you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continuing working up to a one rep max
Decline Barbell Tricep Extensions: 4 sets of 5 reps
One Arm Reverse Pushdowns: 3 sets of 10reps
Dumbbell Upright Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps
Rear Delt Dumbbell Raises: 4 sets of 10reps
Reverse Hypers: 2 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 (dynamic effort squat day)
Box Squats: 10 sets of 2 reps with 50% of 1RM (45 to 60 sec rest between sets)
Arch Back Good Mornings: 4 sets of 3 reps
Reverse Hypers: 4 sets of 6 reps
Rainbows: 4 sets of 10 reps each side
Pull Down Abs: 5 sets of 10 reps

Day 4 (dynamic effort bench day)
Bench Press: 10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM; use three different grips; (45 to 60 sec rest between sets)
Skull Crushers on Swiss ball: 4 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Side Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps
Front Plate Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps
Reverse Hypers: 2 sets of 15 reps


Week 11
Day 1 (max effort squat day)
Pin Pulls: warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel that you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continuing working up to a one rep max
High Pulls: 3 sets of 6 reps
Reverse Hypers: 4 sets of 6 reps
Incline Sit Ups: 4 sets of 8 {pause at midpoint for 2 sec. then come back up}
Hanging Leg Raises: 4 sets to failure


Day 2 (max effort bench day)
Close Grip Board Press: warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel that you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continuing working up to a one rep max
Decline Barbell Tricep Extensions: 4 sets of 5 reps
One Arm Reverse Pushdowns: 3 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Upright Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps
Rear Delt Dumbbell Raises: 4 sets of 10 reps
Reverse Hypers: 2 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 (dynamic effort squat day)
Box Squats: 10 sets of 2 reps with 50% of 1RM (45 to 60 sec rest between sets)
Arch Back Good Mornings: 4 sets of 3 reps
Reverse Hypers: 4 sets of 6 reps
Rainbows: 4 sets of 10 reps each side
Pull Down Abs: 5 sets of 10 reps


Day 4 (dynamic effort bench day)
Bench Press: 10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM; use three different grips; (45 to 60 sec rest between sets)
Skull Crushers on Swiss ball: 4 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Side Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps
Front Plate Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps
Reverse Hypers: 2 sets of 15 reps


Week 12

Day 1 (max effort squat day)
High Box Manta Ray Squat: warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel that you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continuing working up to a one rep max
High Pulls: 3 sets of 6 reps
Reverse Hypers: 4 sets of 6 reps
Incline Sit Ups: 4 sets of 8 {pause at midpoint for 2 sec. then come back up}
Hanging Leg Raises: 4 sets to failure


Day 2 (max effort bench day)
Close Grip Board Press: warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel that you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continuing working up to a one rep max
Decline Barbell Tricep Extensions: 4 sets of 5 reps
One Arm Reverse Pushdowns: 3 sets of 10reps
Dumbbell Upright Rows: 3 sets of 8 reps
Rear Delt Dumbbell Raises: 4 sets of 10 reps
Reverse Hypers: 2 sets of 15 reps


Day 3 (dynamic effort squat day)
Box Squats: 10 sets of 2 reps with 50% of 1RM (45 to 60 sec rest between sets)
Arch Back Good Mornings: 4 sets of 3 reps
Reverse Hypers: 4 sets of 6 reps
Rainbows: 4 sets of 10 reps each side
Pull Down Abs: 5 sets of 10 reps




Day 4 (dynamic effort bench day)
Bench Press: 10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM; use three different grips; (45 to 60 sec rest between sets)
Skull Crushers on Swiss ball: 4 sets of 10 reps
Dumbbell Side Raises: 3 sets of 12 reps
Front Plate Raises: 3 sets of 10 reps
Reverse Hypers: 2 sets of 15 reps


Week 13


Day 1 (max effort squat day)
High Box Manta Ray Squat: warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel that you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continuing working up to a one rep max
Pull Down Abs: 5 sets of 10 reps
Reverse Hypers: 4 sets of 6 reps
Pull Downs: 3 sets of 10 reps
Cable Side Bends: 4 sets of 10 reps each side


Day 2 (max effort bench day)
Close Grip Incline Press: warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel that you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continuing working up to a one rep max
? Dips: 5 sets 5 reps
Rope Push Downs: 3 sets 10 reps
One Arm Dumbbell Press: 3 sets 12 reps
Reverse Hypers: 2 sets 15 reps
Day 3 (dynamic effort squat day)
Box Squats: 10 sets of 2 reps with 60 % of 1RM; (45 to 60 sec rest between sets)
* after your sets of box squats work up to a heavy double. This is not a maximum attempt so do not miss the attempts.
Reverse Hypers: 4 sets 6 reps
Pull Down Abs: 5 sets 10 reps
Rainbows: 3 sets 10 reps each side


Well I'm sure a lot of the bodybuilders out there are looking at this and saying WOW, they don't do very much. CORRECT, and that is one of the prime reasons they make continual progress.


After I did a lot of studying I put together my first true FULL Westside routine (I had done quite a bit of experimentations with PARTS of it in the early 90?s),
My results? Well after a period of gaining literally 50 lbs on my bench and 75 lbs to my squat in a very short time, I fell FLAT ON MY FACE and stagnated and ended up with extreme joint problems. I consequently took time off and found a way to make Westside work for the genetically typical trainee. I have trained many people using my abbreviated Westside format with great success. That the original style of training works wonders for Louis guys and LOTS of folks out there has little relevance for guys like me that aren't that talented.
Training squats and bench twice a week over trained me pretty bad. I did a recommended 9 week routine pretty much verbatim, and when that didn't work I reduced the volume some while sticking with the 4 day schedule. No dice. Knowing I over train easy even while on gear, and also knowing Westside techniques had merit, I simply went to benching one day doing max effort work first, followed by speed work and then assistance exercises. Same for squats. I do back/bi on the third training day.

Here is an example of doing both speed and max effort work on the same day:

Bench:
3 board press. Work up to a max single.
speed bench using 60% of shirtless max 9 sets of 3
tricep extensions
tricep pushdown
lateral raise
Squat/Deadlift
good mornings work up to a max single (Louis recommends doing some form of good mornings 60-70% of the time for max effort work. Many variations are done.
Speed squat 9 sets of 2
Glute ham raise
reverse hyper

I do back/bi and abs on a third day of the week. Let me emphasize this is NOT how Louis lays out his programs. He insists that speed and max effort work be done on separate days of the week. As mentioned in the previous post I attempted that and overtrained badly so modified it to suit my needs. IT IS WORKING ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC FOR MYSELF AND THOSE I TRAIN FOR PURE STRENGTH.


The other way, and perhaps simpler, and probably more true to Louis intents, is to simply insert rest days as needed until everything continues to go up every week, and stays that way. Please keep in mind most everyone when starting a unmodified Westside routine sees some huge strength gains that rapidly decrease. And the joint problem from a combination of heavy singles one day and the speed work a couple days latter is a real problem for guys without robust joints. Either of the two methods above solves this problem for most people. This training style isn't for everyone, but can add up to some sick gains in strength, while adding size at the some time. If you are more interested in strength than size, you should give Westside a shot sometime.

Iron Addict