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What is Westside training?

If you were stupid enough to type ‘gym programs’ into google you would get eleventy gazillion results slamming right back at you. The vast majority of them are high on hyperbole but low on validity. The Internet is awash with muscle experts that know of secret military methods guaranteed to deliver explosive growth, unflaggable fitness and a bigger knob. It’s all crap, and you know it. There is no secret ab exercise that can give you a six-pack made from gun metal in just 3 mins a day. Nor is there a secret supplement taken by Hollywood stars that is made from the tears of Unicorns and Myrrh. There is no single piece of exercise equipment that can transform you into a granite ninja and boost your self confidence. But I don’t need to tell you guys that, you’re smart, informed, educated – and if you regularly read this blog, probably very good looking with a raw animal magnetism that beguiles all who encounter you.

Fear not though my little ones, let not jaded cynicism taint your weary souls, for I am on hand to point out all that is good in the world of gym training and glower menacingly at the bad.

Westside training method is very good indeed. It promises nothing except for years and years of grueling training, BUT if you get with the program, put your head down and grind through the workouts then, by Odin’s belly button fluff, you shall become a much stronger version of yourself.

To understand what Westside is you need to know where it comes from and how it came to be.
It’s all the work of one guy called Louie Simmons, a powerlifter, who runs Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio.
Louie is a world class powerlifter in his own right, having competed at the highest levels of the sport for over 40 years, but it’s in his role as a coach, mentor, writer and equipment inventor that he is most famous.
What made Louie different to all the other powerlifters and coaches out there was his refusal to accept the status quo where strength and conditioning was concerned. Powerlifting in the west was in the dark ages in it’s training practices and was being eclipsed by the east, specifically the Soviet Union. Most of the Soviet research and experiments were done to further the cause of Olympic lifting but Louie discovered, in the endless books he devoured, that there was huge crossover in the Russian training programs – not in the exercises, but in the methods.
The Russians advocated something called conjugate training which uses three ways of training with weights (Max effort for 1-3 reps, Repeat method of taking the muscles to failure at less then max weights for 8-15 reps, Dynamic effort where the movements are performed at max speed with 50-60% max weight.) then rotates and links various exercises that are similar to each other. For example if you trained your Max effort this week with Box squats then next week do Good Mornings or similar.
Westside method gained in popularity, first amongst powerlifters and then with the bodybuilders, personal trainers and the all important Internet Armchair Guru. The Internet Armchair Guru is a carbuncle on the arse of humanity, and yet I have to be careful in over slamming them because I’m a border line case myself. Let’s examine the evidence – Self promoting so called expert preaching his gospel from his ivory towers? Check. Never actually set foot within the hallowed walls of Westside Barbell? Check. Rampant and unchecked plagiarism of other peoples hard work? Check.
Hmmm… I’m not a Internet Armchair Guru, I promise. I’ve got 26 years of weight lifting behind me, I weigh 18.5 stone (259lbs/ 117kg) and I can heave around a decent amount of iron. Just remember anything I say is just my opinion and opinions are like arseholes – everyone’s got one.

Anyway, back to Louie Simmons and his Westside method. Here is a breakdown of what it entails.

  • Train 4 times a week. Typically Mon/Wed/Fri/Sun.
  • Days 1 and 2 are max effort days and 3 and 4 are dynamic days.
  • 1 max effort day is for lower body the other for upper body – i.e squat and bench.
  • 1 dynamic day is for lower body the other for upper body – i.e squat and bench
  • On max effort days pick 1 main exercise, 2 accessory exercises, 1 ab exercise and 1 conditioning element – i.e Box squats/ Good mornings/ Reverse hypers/ Ab-wheel roll outs/ Farmers walk
  • On your main exercise start lightish and add weight each set until you hit your 1RM. Do no more then 3 reps on any subsequent sets. Ideally you should end up performing about 8 working sets.
  • On your accessories do 4 x 10-15 reps off 45 secs to 1 min rest.
  • Next time you do your max effort day change the exercises – i.e Banded front squats/ Romanians/ Back extensions/ Leg raises/ Landmine jammers.
  • Change the exercises each week for 4-6 weeks before going back to your original exercise.
  • On dynamic days do 8 x 3 reps if doing bench. 10 x 2 reps if doing squats. 15 x 1 if doing deadlifts.Rest no more then 1 min between sets.
  • Do the reps with 50-60% of your 1RM and perform the exercises with explosive speed and power.
  • On all days, max or dynamic, use perfect form and technique. The sets are over when your technique fails not your muscles.
  • The changes made each week can be subtle – i.e hand width on the bar, foot stance, belt or not, wraps or not, different type of bar, bands, chains, ROM, etc.
  • For God’s sake go here http://www.westside-barbell.com/ and learn it from the experts not from an idiot who’s been playing around with it for a couple weeks.

I really enjoy this way of training, it scratches a lot of my gym itches. Hopefully I’ll keep at it for awhile and make good progress.
Yours in squatting,
Dave Carter.

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