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  1. #1
    Canadian Bodybuilding Champ
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    Nov 2006
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    Thumbs up Westside Training: By Dave Tate

    Squat Training - Westside Style By: Dave Tate, CSCS

    I have been training at Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio under the coaching of Louie Simmons for over seven years. The knowledge I gained in that first year far exceeds everything I learned studying exercise science in college. I thought I knew all there was to know in the field of strength and conditioning. I have read all the articles, magazines, journals and books on the subject and spoke with many professionals in the field. I had heard of Louie Simmons and had read his articles on training methods, but at that time it went against everything I had studied, so I disregarded it. Then I started reading back issues of the Soviet Sports Review, as well as some other books on eastern block training methodology. Now Louie’s articles started making sense to me.
    After I graduated, I moved to Columbus, Ohio where I knew Matt Dimel. He brought me to Westside Barbell. At the time I thought I was a good lifter since I had competed at the elite level in three weight classes. I figured I had nothing to lose by training a new way, so I started to workout at the gym. To make a long story short, my total went up 300 pounds and my squat went from 750 pounds to 900 pounds. This convinced me that there was no better way to train than the Westside way. I have seen many people join our gym or come in for seminars and learn this method. A year later, their results are great. This is the best way to train if you are willing to give it a try.

    The Westside program is not cut and dry. It is impossible to put a program on paper and say, "Do this!" The Westside program is all about finding where you are weak and making it strong. Your weaknesses will hold you back. A great example of this is the bench press. Lets suppose your triceps have the ability to bench 300 pounds, but your shoulders can only handle 250. How much do you think you will bench? I will guess and say 250. Now, if you bring up your shoulders to match your triceps, how much will you bench? Probably 300. This is only part of what our program is about. From this example you can see how you need to be specific in your training, and why one program will not work for everyone. What you need is a training template, or a way to structure your training.

    The purpose of this article is to outline the structure of our squat and deadlift training. Since we rarely train the dead lift, this article will focus on squat training. Squatting power is defined as the product of two abilities, strength and speed. At Westside we divide squat training into two workouts a week, one on Monday and the other 72 hours later on Friday. The Monday workout is to train the muscular system with maximum effort strength training and Friday is to train the neuromuscular system with dynamic effort training. According to Zatsiorsky, there are three ways to achieve maximum muscular tension.

    1. The Maximal Effort Method: This is defined as lifting a maximal load for 1-3 reps, and is the highest force that can be performed by the muscular system. This is and should be an all out effort. This method will improve neuromuscular coordination by increased motor unit recruiting, increased rate coding, and motor unit synchronization. Many coaches view this as being the best method for both intra-muscular and inter-muscular coordination, because the muscles and the central nervous system adapt only to the load placed upon them.

    The maximal effort method does not utilize psychological preparation, in other words you should not psyche up before the set, this will only bring about emotional fatigue. Save the psyche for the meet when you really need it. Training with the max effort method more than twice a week should be avoided because it will impair muscular coordination as well as increase defensive inhibition.

    2. The Repeated Effort Method: This is defined as lifting a non-maximal load to failure. The most important repetitions here are the last few where the muscles are in a fatigued state. This is because it is the final reps that activate the largest number of motor units. As the tension in one motor unit drops, more and more join in the work. It is important to utilize long rest periods because of this reason. We like to use around five minutes of rest between sets when training with this method. Also, this method is excellent for muscle hypertrophy.

    3. The Dynamic Effort Method: This is defined as lifting sub-maximal weights with the highest attainable speed. It is used to increase the rate of force development and explosive strength. With this method, we utilize multiple sets with lower reps and lift the weights with compensatory acceleration. This means that if you can squat 800 pounds and are training with 400, you should be applying 800 pounds of effort to the barbell. Rest periods should be no longer than one minute.

    Most of the training in the United States today focuses on the repeated effort method in a progressive overload fashion. There are many problems associated with this type of training, which will be outlined below.

    The repetition method will produce the most gains in maximal strength because of increased muscle diameter. However, this type of training does nothing to stimulate the recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers. Also, a large volume of weight is hard to apply to most lifters because the reps are performed in a fatigued state, which leads to bad lifting form. The progressive overload method has not been used since 1964 in the former USSR. They realized 33 years ago that it didn’t work, but in the USA we still haven’t figured it out yet. This type of training will cause lifters to have better and bigger lifts in training than in competition. How many times have you or someone you know said after missed maximum attempt "I tripled that weight in training". There are several reasons why this occurs. First, the protocol starts 10 to 16 weeks out from the peak or competition week. The beginning of the cycle starts with a low weight percentage and a large training volume. This will build muscle mass, but the training percentage is too low to build strength. Although the bar speed is fast, the weight is too light so little force is being developed.

    As the peak or competition draws closer, the weight on the bar increases, so force is being developed but the bar speed has slowed down. Another problem with this phase of the training is that too many weight attempts over 90% are being taken. This will lead to a distortion in form and missed attempts.

    Another problem with this type of training is that it is based on a hypothetical max. Let’s say your best squat is 700 pounds, and you did this fairly easy. You will probably base your training program on a 730 squat thinking that this weight is closer to your true max. Most of the time a progress overload training cycle starts after an active rest period of two to four weeks. This is where the problems start. It has been proven that you can loose up to 20% of your strength after two weeks of non-training. This will cause the lifter to begin the training cycle based off a 730 pound squat, when in reality may only be capable of a 600 to 650 pound squat. This causes the training percent to be higher than what is programmed. For example, if week one calls for 3 sets of 12 with 50%, the lifter will be using 365 pounds if based on a 730 squat. Keep in mind that the lifter may only be capable of a 650 squat so he should be using 325. This would mean that he is lifting 56% instead of 50% This is really no big deal with such a low percent because the weight is still light. The real problem comes later down the line when the percent raises to 85% to 90%. If there is a 6% difference in the weight, it could be up to a 50 to 70 pound difference.

    Tudor Bompa states that strength improves as a result of creating high tension in the muscles and is directly related to the training methods employed. He also states that any increase in power must be a result of improvements in strength, speed, or both. So why would anyone want to limit themselves to only one type of training? I feel this is because of the large amount of body building information that is out there. Most lifters start by asking the biggest guy in the gym what he does and by reading the muscle magazines. Most of this information lacks any scientific background and is based on creating muscle hypertrophy. There are many bodybuilders out there who have large muscles and yet cannot display power. Why? They lack the ability to contract an already strong muscle in a short period of time. It is like having a big engine, but no gas. The advantage to maximum effort and dynamic effort training is that both train the nervous system to contract in the shortest period of time. This neuromuscular adaptation results in improving intra- muscular coordination and improved relations between excitatory and inhibitory reaction of a muscle during the training stimuli.

    Now that you understand the science behind the training, let’s look at what we do to incorporate it. Louie has devised a way to use all the above methods to increase our performance. As already mentioned, we do our squat training two times a week. Lets look at day one first. For us, this is on Monday. It is our maximum effort day. We start with one special exercise that is either a type of squat, dead lift or good morning. We have a list of over 600 different variations of these exercises. Why so many? We all know the body is in a constant process of adaptation, so it only makes sense to bombard it with new stimuli all the time. We will use one exercise for two to three weeks and then switch to another. This is called conjugate training and it keeps the body in state where it has no chance to adapt. We have found that when you switch exercises it should be to another kind of exercise. In other words, do not go from one type of good morning to another variation of it. It is far better to switch to a squat or dead lift. Whatever the exercise, it will be performed for a maximum set of one or three reps. First; we warm up using three reps until you can no longer do them, then switch to one rep. You will have only one 1-rep max.

    Since we perform good mornings about 40% of the time, I will use it as an example to show how we come up with so many variations. We use special training aids such as chains, bands, weight releasers, or a combination of these. This is known as the contrast method. These aids help to change the strength curve. They apply a greater resistance at the top of the curve where we are strongest. An example is using chains. When using them, you should have two lighter chains, one for each side of the barbell that hang down and hold all the other heavier chains. These heavier chains should be about 5’ in length and weigh about 20 pounds. Adjust the chains so only about three links are on the floor for all squatting and good morning type exercises. Another example is the Jump Stretch bands. To use these, all you need to do is loop one end of the band around the power rack or Monolift and the other around the barbell. We will also use a number of different types of barbells such as the buffalo bar, Hatfield (safety) squat bar, and others to add to our growing list of different ways to perform the good morning. Below is a list of possible Good mornings, deadlifts, and squats.

    Types of Good Mornings

    Good Mornings: These are regular good mornings that can be performed either with a rounded back or arched back.

    Good Mornings off Pins: Set the bar on a selected pin of any height and duck under it. Set up in a good morning position and lift bar up to a standing position. This can be performed with either an arched back or rounded back.

    Hanging Bar Good Mornings: Hang the selected bar in the power rack with chains. Set a desired height; duck under the bar in a good morning position and lift to a standing position. It can be performed with either a rounded back or arched back. This is a current favorite of Westside.

    Good Morning Squats: This is a combo between a good morning and a squat. You begin the motion as a good morning. At the bottom position of the good morning you squat down, then squat the bar back to a standing position

    Seated Good Mornings: These are performed in a seated position. Unrack the bar and bend over as low as you can go and arch back up. These can be performed in an arched or rounded back position.

    This list becomes very extensive when you add in the chains, bands, weight releasers, different bars, and different stances. We perform as many different variations as we can come up with. I have calculated over 300 different good morning variations. This keeps the body guessing and getting stronger.

    Types of Dead Lifts

    We do many types of dead lifts as well, but I am not going to bore you with another list. I will just say we pull dead lifts from various pin settings out of a power rack, we dead lift standing on different height boards, and we use multiple stances. Also, we use chains and bands to incorporate the contrast method.


    We also do a great variety of squatting movements. We use training devices such as the Manaray, safety squat bar, buffalo bar, front squat harness, belt squats, and whatever else we think up to include variations. We usually perform the squat using a box on this day, unless we hang the bar from the power rack. Chains, bands, and weight releasers are also used for the contrast method.

    Day 1 (Maximum Effort Training)

    Our Monday workout is based on different groups of exercises each intended to fill a specific purpose. Group one is the max effort exercise, which was reviewed above. Group two is the supplemental exercise and is intended to train the specific weakness of the squat. This group is performed with multiple sets of varied reps usually over five reps but not more than 20. Group three and four is to train the body’s core. These are the most important groups because without a strong core, you do not have a transfer of power. I like to use the example of squatting to illustrate this. If you were to replace your lower back and ABS with a large pillow and try to squat what would happen? The pillow would collapse and you would not be able to squat. Now, if you replace the pillow with a rock what would happen? Your power would be transferred through the rock and the squat would go up. It is not enough to only train the low back and abs; you have to make them stronger all the time. Group four is the pre-habilitation group. This is the time to correct muscle imbalances and work some of the stabilizing muscles that normally do not get worked. A great example of this is the external rotators of the shoulder complex. Next, I will briefly review some specific exercise in-groups two to four. This will give a better understanding of the structure of our training.

    Group Two (supplemental accessory)

    Our second exercise choice is specific to the athletes’ weaknesses. Most of the time in our Club, it is the glutes or hamstrings. In order to work these muscles, we would choose one of the following:

    Glute Ham Rise: This is a special bench that is similar to a hyperextension bench except the movement is initiated by the glutes and hamstrings.
    Partial Dead lifts: Arched back dead lifts from the knees up performed in a ballistic fashion for high reps.
    Seated Leg Curl with Jump Stretch Bands
    Pull Through: Facing away from a low pulley, bend down and grab the pulley between the legs and pull through to a standing position.
    Zercher Squats (seated, standing, or off pins): Cradle the barbell in your arms and squat.
    Group Three (Core accessory #1)
    Our third exercise is usually for the low back and is typically a reverse hypertension. We use many variations often using a long or short strap. A light day will consist of 3 - 4 sets of 15-20 reps using a light weight. A heavy day means 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps using a heavy weight. Keep in mind you should have at least one or two of each type of workout a week.

    Group Three (Core accessory #2)

    Our fourth exercise is for the abdominal and consists of one or two of the exercises below.

    Pull down ABS: Using a latte pull machine with a rope, you grab the handle behind your head and perform a reverse dead lift.
    Blue bench ABS: This is the Ab bench featured in Iron Man magazine.
    Spread eagle sit ups: Lay on the floor with your legs spread out wide in front of you and perform sit ups. We hook our legs under our power rack.
    Incline sit ups
    Weighted Crunches
    Weighted Swiss ball sit-ups: Using a large inflatable ball, lay on your back across it and perform sit-ups.
    Group Four (Pre-habitation)

    Our last exercises are chosen to increase our work capacity and to help train the stabilizing muscles. This type of training helps to avoid injury. These exercises should never take more than 15 minutes. They consist of lat work, dragging, reverse curls, wrist and grip work, and external rotation exercises. These workouts are not predetermined and are not restricted to any certain exercises.
    Two samples Good morning max effort workouts would look like this:

    Sample #1

    1. Good Mornings off chains with Safety Squat Bar: We would start by warming up with the bar and keep adding weight. Most of the reps per set are around three. We would stay with three until that becomes impossible (we know this by feel. You don’t want to fail doing your triples) At this point we switch to singles until we fail or our eyes pop out of our heads.

    2. Glute Ham Raises: We would do multiple sets, nobody really counts, but I guess around five. The repetitions are either heavy five's or lighter sets to failure. This depends on how we feel.

    3. Reverse Hyper: Either 4 or 5 sets of heavy weight sets of five or 3 sets of lighter weight sets of 10-15. Once again it depends on how we feel.

    4. Pull Down ABS: We really don’t count sets or reps. Try to do a least 6 to 8 sets of 10-20 reps.

    5. Pre-habilation : This stuff is really not heavy but just exercises to increase our work capacity and help train stabilizing muscles to help avoid injury, These exercises never take more than 20 minutes and consist of lat work, dragging, reverse curls, wrist and grip work, external rotation exercises, and what ever else you may deem necessary. This is not predetermined work and is not limited to the exercises listed. This portion of the workout can be done in a second workout on the same day.

    6. Eat: We always seem to find somewhere to go eat.

    Sample #2

    Good Morning Squats with Chains: The Good morning squat is performed by starting the lift in a good morning position. Start the decent as a good morning by bending at the waist until until your upper body is slightly above parallel. At the point squat down into a deep position and squat the weight back to the starting position. Work up to a max single or triple.
    Partial Dead lifts. To do this, pull the bar with a conventional style to a lockout position. At this point arch your back and drop to just below your knees and explode back to the top. Perform multiple sets of high reps (15-20)
    Reverse Hyper: Perform three to five sets of 6-12 reps
    Weighted Incline Sit-Ups: Use a weight that will only allow 6 to 10 reps. Perform 5 to 6 sets.
    Prehabilation: Same as above
    Day 2 (The Speed Day)
    The second workout for squat training is on Friday. This is the speed day that, as stated before, trains the neuromuscular system. We only use box squats to train our squat. The box squats are performed on a box that is 1-2 inches below parallel. We train with 50% to 60% of the weight of our best squat at a meet. These percentages are performed in a wave fashion for a 4-week mini-cycle, and are then repeated. A sample wave might look like this: week 1 (50%), week 2 (55%), week 3 (58%), week 4 (60%). If chains or bands are used, they should be used in addition to the weight. Using weights this light makes it easy to develop explosive and accelerating strength, and to perform perfect form. Each repetition should be performed with compensatory acceleration. The bar speed must be fast and explosive. If you squat 800 pounds, and your training weight is 400, then the force applied to the bar should be 800 pounds of force not 400. We train with only a light squat suit (straps down) no knee wraps. We also train in a flat sole shoe such as wrestling shoes or Converse Chuck Taylors.

    To perform a correct box squat, you should set up that squat in a position that is wider than normal stance with your feet pointed straight ahead. Arch your back, pull your shoulder blades together, and drive your head into the bar, push your knees apart as well as pushing your abdominal wall against your belt. During the decent push the hips back first, then bend the knees. Make sure to sit way back onto the box (do not drop fast, and stay in control). While on the box your position should be: arched back, abdominal against belt, knees out, shoulder blades together, your knees should be in line or behind your heals. Now, you pause on the box (notice I said pause, do not bounce), then explode up to the starting position. Why box squat? This is because it breaks up the eccentric/concentric chain which builds explosive strength.

    For our speed day we use 8 to 12 sets of 2 repetitions. We will only try to rest for 45 to 60 seconds between sets. This is a form of lactic acid tolerance training, which increases work capacity. The 12 sets are usually only performed in the beginning of the mini-cycle when the percentage is lower. We will also work up to a single or double after our sets if we feel good. This is not every workout, it is only when we feel strong. After our squat workout we will perform the same assistance groups as on Mondays workout. As on Monday we pay special attention to our weak points.

    These workouts should not take more than 60 minutes. Dr. Angel Spassov in his tour of the United States spoke of the release of testosterone during training. His graph showed that the resting testosterone levels are significantly increased during the first 20 minutes of training. During this time we are performing our warm ups such as dragging or light ab work. He also believes that the most critical time of training is between 20 and 50 minutes, that is the time when we perform all our work sets. During this time the testosterone levels are at its peak. After this time the levels start to decrease.

    I hear people say all the time " that westside stuff won’t work." My question to them is have you tried it, because if you haven’t, you really don't have any room to speak. I used to say the same things and now my total is up 300 pounds. The proof is in the results, we have twelve 800 pound squatters, three 900 pound squatters, and Matt Dimel's 1010 pound squat. We also have fifteen 700 pound dead lifters and two 800 pound dead lifters. Think about it. I will close by saying that many people may ask why not just keep training the same normal way? Well in the words of Dr. Angel Spassov "Who wants to be normal? Who wants normal results? We want to be exceptional. Exceptions confirm what is not normal". We at Westside agree 100%.
    War only has rules for the loser.

  2. #2
    Canadian Bodybuilding Champ
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Rep Power


    Still trying to find a bench article by Dave Tate. This one is by a guy who a couple people may have heard of before...

    My Trip to Westside Barbell
    Scott Mendelson

    My weekend trips to Columbus Ohio usually include a visit to the Westside Barbell club. This visit would be different than those previous because I was actually going to train on Saturday and Sunday as a bench and squat seminar attendee opposed to just watching the action.

    I arrived at Westside to meet Dave Tate and one other trainee for a bench workout. Watching the instructional tapes, reading articles and seeing others perform the Westside techniques gave me a solid concept of what I wanted to execute. In reality things did not fall into place as well as I had hoped when training on my own. Dave watched as I knocked out my first triple using my dynamic load plus a couple of chains. The chains immediately made their presence felt by loading the top of the press, which is usually the easiest part of the rep. According to Dave keeping the bar over the wrists with the elbows properly tucked is the most difficult part of the technique to master. We conquered this problem by pointing the knuckles of my forefingers towards each other while trying to pull the bar apart. My grip felt awkward with the new wrist position, but involvement of the triceps improved dramatically. The elbows fell into place and I was able to stay very tight by flexing the lats throughout the movement. It is difficult to perfect technique without an expert set of eyes to help you identify glitches; fortunately I was able to hear advice straight from the stud's mouth.

    Dave conducted an elaborate Q and A for us focusing on the bench dynamic and upper body max effort days. The key to the dynamic work is speed, but finding the right load and knowing when to progress to a new weight can be a challenge. Using one load for four sets followed by a five percent increase in bar weight for the remaining sets is a good way to progress to a new dynamic weight. Bands do change the scope of things by requiring less focus on speed when used with the bench. The extra eccentric loading created by the bands is the primary benefit. Those needing to perfect form can boost practice opportunities by doing twelve sets of triples with a reduced load. You should "work up" twice every four weeks following the dynamic sets and use one week a month to hit some high rep bench work. Dave suggests using half of the dynamic load for two sets of 20-30 reps. This is best done in a competitive mode by trying to beat the combined number of reps from both sets done by your partner.

    According to Dave identifying the optimal grip width for competition is a matter of selecting your best grip from training. At Westside three different grip widths are used during a dynamic bench workout. Try to establish a consistent routine by reusing grips for a period of time before rotating. During competition wide grips favor lifters using bench shirts, while a closer grip is best for a raw bencher. Raw lifters will benefit most from max effort lifts such as cambered bar presses, board presses and illegal wide presses because of the extra chest emphasis. Some heavy dumbbell pressing on a bench or swiss ball during the supplemental portion of the max effort day is also a great way to develop the extra chest strength needed for shirtless pressers. The ability to customize portions of the Westside training system in an effort to address weaknesses and special needs is one of the programs greatest assets accordingly to Louie Simmons.

    The Westside system has a simple checks and balances mechanism in place to prevent overtraining. Many lifters make the mistake of doing too much supplemental and assistance work on the Max Effort day. Using heavy loads during prehabilitation workouts, which are simply intended to promote blood flow, is also a mistake. As a result the speed of the barbell during dynamic workouts suffer. One must lighten up on training volume and or intensity of the assistance and supplemental phase of the workouts if they notice decreased bar speed during dynamic sessions. Assistance and supplemental work are also intended to create muscular balance. Muscular balance is achieved by dedicating equal emphasis to planes of movement. Horizontal pulling movements such as rows match with bench pressing, while vertical pulling exercises must accompany shoulder pressing. Dave believes this is extremely important for injury prevention.

    It was an honor to be in a gym that has produced so many Powerlifting world record holders on Sunday morning. The writing was literally on the wall of the tiny gym, which barely contains it's huge patrons. A chalkboard listing the records for the squat, dead lift, bench and total according to weight class cannot be missed as one enters the world of Westside Barbell. Six unsuspecting students, who would never know how much help a Westside seminar would provide them until they rubbed the chalk on their own hands stood in awe of their awesome surroundings. White Zombie echoed through the gym as a few Westside members finished their workouts.

    Dave Tate arrived right on time this Sunday morning, but he did not appear to be a typical lecturer. His determined look and impressive form made it easy to tell Dave practices what he preaches. We were broken into two groups according to our working weights for the dynamic squat. Luckily I was put into the second group, giving me the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the squatters taking center stage before me. None of the students had used the special Powerlifting squat rack before, but we had seen it in use on the Westside instructional tapes. Huge rubber bands were looped under the rack legs and around the barbell for added tension. Bands have become a staple of the Westside training routines, and you would quickly understand why if you used them.

    The height of the box was adjusted to one inch below parallel for each squatter and a manually operated jack like device was used to raise the bar to the appropriate starting level. The first group moved through the sets at a fast pace while teacher Tate made corrections accordingly pointing out many mistakes while complementing improvement. His ability to address and simplify complex issues was of great benefit to the attendees. Each lifter was amazed by how easily Dave was able to identify flaws that they were unable to see on their own. Drastic improvement was visible from set to set as technical changes were made. A training partner tandem looked each other in the eye with approval, affirming that attending the seminar was a vital move in their choice to be better powerlifters. Most of the squatters did not maintain enough curve in the lower back, which interfered with their ability to sit back on the box.

    My turn quickly approached as the first group finished. It was time to go to work and my level of mental arousal had been building as I watched others train. My first set of doubles was rough at best and I could not wait to get out from under the bar so I could implement the technique corrections, which needed to be made. Unfortunately the rack operator responsible for catching the bar with the hooks did not know how to engage the mechanism. I stood in a static position with the bands pulling me down for several second before Chris Street figured out what to do. Our training loads ventured upward as the workout progressed. The new load was intimidating for me as a first timer with a bum knee and back. A switch went off in my head when Dave Tate turned towards me and said "you better be ready". I took my position under the bar and went to war with gravity, knocking out my best set pain free.

    A wide array of exercises was executed following the dynamic work for demonstration purposes. Dave made sure every person in attendance understood how to properly execute glute/ham raises, reverse hypers and other Westside favorites. Fire in the eyes of the Westside members make it obvious that half ass efforts are not tolerated. My group approached the supplemental phase of the workout with intensity.

    The real fun began in the parking lot with sled dragging. Ropes were attached to my ankles and I was told to walk like Frankenstein so I would properly pull the plate-loaded sled behind. Time under tension mounted and the lactic acid followed. A second exercise required me to bend over with straight legs, grip the rope between my ankles and walk with short strides. These sled exercises felt like hypertrophy training but the muscles were taxed differently than I expected. My groin, hamstrings and glutes were fatigued but not terribly sore. Westside members use the sleds to increase strength, accelerate recovery and prevent injuries. The lack of eccentric components takes soreness out of the equation while the concentric phase creates elevated blood flow. Heightened blood flow is crucial for recovery and injury prevention according to Dave Tate. Dave does a series of shoulder exercises with the sled during his prehabilitation sessions the day before his dynamic bench work to blast away soreness lingering from training earlier in the week.

    Prehabilitation workouts are an important tool for accelerating recovery and preventing injuries. Tough workouts build up junk in the system, which slow recovery rates. Maximal performance requires quick recovery. Prehab workouts were created to increase blood flow while incorporating some unique flexibility work. The shoulders are often the most highly taxed from the Westside routine. Shoulder recovery is addressed through the use of plate-loaded sleds. Light external rotations with the sled provide a great way to increase blood flow without taxing the system because of the absence of an eccentric portion of the exercise. Tricep pushdowns utilizing a very low weight for 20-30 reps helps with tris, while a cable crossover is great for stretching the pecs. Be sure to keep all work very light during these workouts.

    We took our seats, not in desks but on gym equipment. Our lecturer went to work on the dry erase board detailing the components of the training system. Questions were addressed with exercise demonstrations and group discussion. Every attendee had the chance to inquire about his individual training situation. Professor Tate summarized his recommendations for each lifter in great detail.

    Westside members usually decide on the max effort lift of the day when they arrive at they gym. Trainees feeling overtrained may elect to lower the intensity of the max effort work by hitting a heavy triple instead of a new 1 RM record, but hitting a 1RM previously achieved is not recommended. On lower body day the max effort work may be dumped all together for some heavy sled pulling, which pushes up the dead lift while putting less stress on the system. Louie Simmons has pulled 11 forty-five pound plates. Dave in particular becomes more specific with his training when he approaches a meet. Certain max effort lifts boost his dynamic bench work and as a result they receive special attention. Maintaining training records can help anyone identify what max effort lifts help their bench.

    My mastering the squat seminar experience came to an end, but the information I learned will last forever. Theoretically all of those in attendance should make tremendous improvement since they are armed with information they can apply to their training. Overhearing positive conversations in the parking lot confirmed by theory. One salivating lifter remarked, "Actually squatting in front of Dave gave him the opportunity to tell me exactly what I need to do. No way to do that over the phone, I have been stuck on my squat for a while, but after making the technique changes during the workout my squat speed went through the roof". Facial expressions also revealed the excitement built in the rejuvenated powerlifters who now had a new potent bag of tricks.
    War only has rules for the loser.

  3. #3
    Canadian Bodybuilding Champ
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Rep Power


    This is what I was looking for, just different author.

    Training The Bench Press
    by Jim Wendler

    The training program explained here is one based on the principles of Westside Barbell. While Westside Barbell originated in Culver City, California, Louie Simmons has taken the attitude and innovative training techniques to Columbus, Ohio. I will attempt to explain the myths, method and the program.
    Let’s examine some of the misconceptions of this type of training. First, Westside is not about chains and bands. Adding chains and bands does not automatically make a program stronger. Members of Westside Barbell trained for many years without the use of chains and bands and have always had impressive results. They are merely a tool, and when used appropriately, can cause large increases in strength. The Westside method revolves combining the Dynamic, Max Effort and Repeated Effort Method, and coupling them together in a method called “conjugated periodization.” Another common myth is that this type of training is only for those who used anabolic/androgenic drugs. Most of the lifters that I’ve talked with on the internet and in person do not use drugs. Once they grasp the concepts behind this training, they undoubtedly make huge gains. The trick is not overtraining, which is common among drug-free lifters, and strengthening your weaknesses. In fact, when one looks at a drug-free lifters’ program, the volume and total number of exercises often exceeds a drugged lifter. The trick is knowing your own strength and stay within your workload and capacity.
    Let’s look at some of the science behind the training. Here is an excerpt from the article “HIT or Miss?” by Louie Simmons from the 1998 issue of Powerlifting USA.
    “A. S. Prilepin suggested that to achieve the proper intensity, one should use the rep/set scheme shown in the table, to ensure the greatest development of speed and strength. He discovered that if 7 or more reps were performed at 70%, the bar speed slowed and power decreased. The same holds true when using 80% or 90%; once one goes above the rep range shown, the bar slows, which translates to less power. Doing fewer or more lifts than Prilepin suggests will cause a decrease in training effect.”

    Number of Reps for Percent Training

    55-65 3-6 24 18-30
    70-75 3-6 18 12-24
    80-85 2-4 15 10-20
    90+ 1-2 7 4-10

    These percentages and rep ranges are what the Westside program is based upon. Simmons has also used Vladimir Zatsiorsky, Mel Siff, and many other Soviet experts to help design the program.
    According to Zatsiorsky there are three ways to achieve maximal muscle tension
    1. The Maximum Effort Method (Lifting a maximal load).
    2. The Dynamic Effort Method (Lifting a non-maximal load as fast as possible).
    3. The Repeated Effort Method (Lifting a non-maximal load to failure or near failure).
    If one wishes to gain strength, all three methods should be employed. Why limit yourself to just one method? By improving both speed and strength (combining the Maximal Effort and Dynamic Effort Method) it teaches the muscles to contract in the shortest amount of time. The Repeated Effort Method is used to develop the necessary hypertrophy for leverage and muscle mass. This method is used with various auxiliary exercises but not with conventional exercises like the bench, squat and deadlift.
    Max Effort Bench Press
    Lifting maximal loads (at or above 90%) is “considered superior for improving both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination; the muscles and central nervous system (CNS) adapt only to the load placed upon them. This method should be used to bring forth the greatest strength increments.” (Zatsiorsky 100) The big drawback with handling weights at this percentage is that after three weeks the nervous system begins to weaken, and thus your strength diminishes. So how does one use the benefits of maximal effort training without the negative consequences? Switch exercises every 1 to 3 weeks. This keeps the body fresh and the athlete is able to train this way year round. Another benefit of this training is that a sense of accomplishment and well being is maintained in the weight room. By keeping accurate records and encouraging the athletes to break them, athletes have proof of getting stronger every week. There is no need to wait 12 weeks for proof of strength gains. This can do wonders for the morale of the team as well as increasing the emotional intensity in the weight room. A competition-like atmosphere is created and thus athletes are forced to respond in a positive manner.
    Here is a sample Max Effort Exercise.

    EXERCISE Floor Press

    1 5 45
    1 5 95
    1 5 135
    1 3 185
    1 3 225
    1 3 275
    1 1 315
    1 1 365
    1 1 405
    1 1 425
    1 1 450

    In the above example, 450 would be the lifters 1RM for the floor press. This number is to be recorded and broken. As you can see, the lifter makes small weight increases and begins with a general warm-up. He will drop from three reps to one rep when he feels the weight getting heavier. The athlete will then keep increasing the weight until he reaches his 1RM. It is important to try and break records, but it is imperative that the athlete strain.

    The general loading parameters of Max Effort

    Intensity 90-100%
    # of Exercises 1
    Reps 1-3
    Rest Interval 2-5 min
    Frequency/Week 1
    Weeks/Exercise 1-3

    The Dynamic Effort Method and the Bench Press
    The Dynamic Effort Method is not used to develop maximal strength, but to increase force production and explosive strength. By training at 50-70% and using compensatory acceleration, the athlete will become more explosive. Using compensatory acceleration (pushing as hard and as fast as one can during the concentric phase of the lift) allows the athlete to push maximally against sub-maximal weights. Thus an athlete that can bench press 300lbs. using 180lbs (60%) can produce 300 lbs. of force as long as he concentrates on accelerating the bar. The training of force development is imperative in order for an athlete to achieve his potential.

    Here is a sample Dynamic Bench workout. The athlete has a 450 lbs. bench press and trains at 50% of his max (225).

    Exercise Bench Press

    Sets Reps Weight Rest Interval
    2 5 45 1min
    1 5 95 1min
    1 3 135 1min
    1 3 185 1min
    8 3 225 1min

    It should be noted that the percents could vary from 50-60% depending on the athlete. The more advanced the athlete, the lower the percentage and vice versa. There are two things that the coach must do to insure that the athlete is training at the right percentage. 1. Monitor bar speed. Having an experienced coach watch the athlete is crucial. The athlete should also know that the weight shouldn’t be heavy and should move explosively. 2. Monitor Max Effort workouts. When the athlete fails to improve on the max effort day, it is usually the result of too high of a % on dynamic day. The coach should always error on the side of the lighter percentage.
    The athlete should use three different grips on dynamic day; all should be inside the rings.
    The rest periods are crucial to the dynamic day. The goal is to fatigue the fast twitch muscle fibers and thus make them stronger. Also, the more they fatigue, the more fibers will be activated with each set. The rest times must be carefully monitored.
    Parameters of the Dynamic Effort Method for the bench press.

    Load (Intensity) 50-60%
    # of Exercises 1
    Sets 8
    Reps 3
    Frequency/Week 1
    Rest Interval 1min

    The Repetition Method
    The repetition method is “lifting a non-maximal load to failure.” (Zatsiorsky 100) The repetition method is best for hypertrophy. According to Zatsiorsky, it is only the final lifts of the set that the maximal number of motor units is recruited. The big drawback to this method is that when one trains to failure, it is difficult to recover. Also, because of the fatigue, the last reps are often done with poor form and thus injury can result. This program uses a modified form of the repetition method. All supplementary and accessory lifts are done until a breakdown of form takes place or when an athlete perceives that he has only 1 or 2 reps left. It is important for the athlete to push himself, but to know his limits. The parameters of this method are broad and really depend on the individual lifter. Generally though, the sets fall between 3-8 and the reps from 6 to 15. It is important to point out that these lifts should not take away from the overall program, but add to it.. By training to failure on every set, the effect of the program would be lost.

    Modified Repetition Method Parameters.

    Load (Intensity) 60-80%
    # of Exercises All supplementary and accessory lifts
    Sets/Reps 3-8/6-15
    Rest Interval 1-3min
    Frequency/Week All Workouts
    Weeks/Exercise 1-5

    The Basic Training Template
    Day I
    1. Dynamic Bench Press - 8 sets of 3 using three different grips.
    2. Supplementary Exercise - Triceps training with high intensity, lower volume.
    3. Accessory Movements - (triceps, delts, lats)
    4. Prehab work - (upper back, rotators, extra pushdowns for elbows)

    Day II
    1. Max Effort Exercise - Work up to 1RM
    2. Supplementary Exercise - High volume triceps work
    3. Accessory Movements - (triceps, delts, lats)
    4. Prehab Work - (see above)

    Putting it Together
    Here is a sample workout.
    Day I. (Dynamic Day)
    Bench Press - 8x3 @ 50-60%
    5 board press - 3-5x5
    Lat Rows - 4x10
    Rear Laterals - 3x15

    Day II (Max Effort Day)
    Floor Press - to 1RM
    DB Triceps Extensions - 7x8
    One Arm DB Row - 4x8
    DB Cuban Press - 3x15
    War only has rules for the loser.


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