A new program. Welcome to Westside!
There are times I truly believe that, here at Dave’s gym, we enjoy starting a new program a little too much. Changing up and swapping around your style and type of training is, generally, a smart thing to do. It may ‘shock’ your body and help take it in a new direction. I don’t 100% prescibe to this theory, but there is no doubting that changing your reps/weight/speed/exercise/intensity/whatever can leave you sore down to the bone for the next few days. Whether being sore is conducive to growth or improvement is up to debate.
What I do believe changing your training program is good for is the fresh surge of renewed enthusiasm it brings with it.
I’ll be honest with you, since I finished with 5/3/1 training I’ve been floundering a little bit. I loved 5/3/1 and it gave me some solid results. So I thought that switching to my own devised Strongman inspired training would be a doddle and yield similar spectacular results. Alas this does not seem to be the case. Looking at why changing from 1 program to another works, or doesn’t work, is interesting, at least it is to a geeky gym fetishist such as myself.
What 5/3/1 gave me was a long time to work up to my max weights. It took bloody months of fiddling around with slowly increasing percentages until I had worked up to my 1RM’s. By the time I had got up to using the heavy stuff my body had undergone thousands of reps at lesser weights, which allowed me better neural adaption. In short my technique had improved along with any genuine strength increases I had made. Practice, it seems, does make perfect.
My Strongman training didn’t have a larger over-riding purpose. I just did heavy lifting at, or near, my maximum possible weights. I also only lifted weights 3 times a week whilst on it. This caused a few problems. First I didn’t have time, in a single session, to hit all the muscles properly unless I trained for 2 or more hours. Secondly I really like lifting weights – a lot. It’s sort of why I opened a gym. I also enjoy training hard and training hard for 2 hours is beyond my physical abilities. I wasn’t getting particularly sore from training but I was getting weary. In short, somethings gotta change.
And then, like a message from the Gods of Iron, Westside training stepped into my life. If you want to know a little bit more about Westside training then check out this article, but it’s enough to know that it is basically the big brother to 5/3/1 except with bands and chains and strange devices that would not look out of place in a medieval dungeon. Weight lifting AND bondage gear. What’s not to love?
It’s worth pointing out that Westside training, as a concept, wasn’t new to me. Emil (Project Goliath) and Matt Strong (yes, it really is his really real name), were following Westside methods several years ago. It just seemed complicated and opaque. As is so often the case, it was me that was opaque and Westside is as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.