The Westside Barbell Training Program!


Westside Barbell Program

The Westside Barbell training program is one of the most effective training programs of all time! It works unbelievably well for powerlifters and other athletes who want to become as strong as humanly possible!

Introduction

  • Part 1: Overview
  • Part 2: The Max Effort Method
  • Part 3: The Dynamic Effort Method
  • Part 4: The Repetition Effort Method
  • Part 5: Identifying Weak Points
  • Part 6: Rotating Exercises
  • Part 7: Bands And Chains
  • Part 8: The Circa-Max Phase
  • Part 9: Westside Raw
  • Part 10: Sample 12-Week Bench Cycle
  • Part 11: Sample 12-Week Squat / Deadlift Cycle

The Westside Barbell training program is designed for one thing and one thing only: to turn you into the absolute strongest powerlifter that you can possibly become.

Yes, it is true that competitive athletes in many different sports have used the westside barbell training program to become a stronger and faster athlete. However, at its heart Louie Simmons training system is all about putting up massive weights in the “big three”: the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

In this comprehensive guide I am going to teach you everything you need to know about to use the Westside Barbell training system to break your old powerlifting PR’s!

Please note that this article assumes you understand how to read a training program. If you have any trouble reading the training routines covered here then I recommend you consult this article.

Now let’s get down to business…

Part 1: Overview

The Westside Barbell training program was invented by the powerlifting genius Louie Simmons.

Louie was born in 1947 and spent many decades as a younger man competing in the sport of powerlifting. He eventually suffered a major injury to his lower back which nearly ended his competitive career.

His surgeons wanted to fuse his lumbar vertebrae together and told him that he would never compete again. Fortunately for us Louie did not listen.

First he invented a machine called the reverse hyperextension that he used to completely rehabilitate his lower back.

Next he developed a new training system based off of old strength training research performed in the former Soviet Union. This system was based on conjugate periodization rather than the more common linear periodization.

Conjugate periodization is a way of organizing your training where you develop all of the training qualities (strength, power, hypertrophy) at the same time rather than in separate blocks. With conjugate periodization you are literally becoming bigger, stronger, and faster year-round. 

Here is Louie Simmons himself talking about the benefits of conjugate periodization for powerlifters:

Conjugate periodization is based on using three different types of methods: the max effort method, the dynamic effort method, and the repetition effort method.

The max effort method involves training with loads in the 1-3 rep range and is designed to increase your maximal strength.

The dynamic effort method involves performing multiple sets of 1-3 reps performed explosively and with sub maximal weights.

Finally the repetition effort method involves performing sets of relatively higher reps on various accessory exercises. 

Here is Matt Wenning giving a perfect explanation of the three conjugate training methods:

Louie Simmons uses the following training split for his powerlifting club:

The Westside Barbell Training Split

  • Sunday: dynamic effort bench
  • Monday: max effort lower body
  • Wednesday: max effort upper body
  • Friday: dynamic effort lower body

The Westside Barbell program utilizes a four days per week upper body / lower body split. Two days are dedicated to training the bench press (and more generally the upper body) while two days are dedicated to training the squat and deadlift (and more generally the lower body).

Louie figured out pretty quickly that the average powerlifter could not handle four heavy workouts in a 7-day week. Therefore he has you rotate between a “max effort” workout and a “dynamic effort” workout for both the upper body and the lower body.

Nothing is set in stone and Louie is constantly running experiments on his trainees to figure out what works the best. However, there are some general guidelines for how to structure your exercises on each of these training days.

The bench press days usually start with either a max effort or dynamic effort bench press exercise followed by supplementary and accessory exercises for the triceps, lats, and delts.

On the other hand the lower body training days focus on max effort or dynamic effort work for the squat / deadlift followed by supplemental and accessory exercises for the hamstrings and lower back.

Here is a template for what each of these four training days might look like for the average Westside trainee:

Sunday: dynamic effort bench

  • A1: Dynamic effort bench press
  • B1: Bench press supplemental lift
  • C1: Triceps accessory exercise
  • D1: Lats accessory exercise
  • E1: Delts accessory exercise

Monday: max effort lower body

  • A1: Max effort squat / deadlift
  • B1: Squat / deadlift supplemental lift
  • C1: Hamstrings accessory exercise
  • D1: Lower back accessory exercise

Wednesday: max effort upper body

  • A1: Max effort bench press
  • B1: Bench press supplemental lift
  • C1: Triceps accessory exercise
  • D1: Lats accessory exercise
  • E1: Delts accessory exercise

Friday: dynamic effort lower body

  • A1: Dynamic effort squat
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift
  • C1: Hamstrings accessory exercise
  • D1: Lower back accessory exercise

Louie is a big believer in the “law of 72 hours.” This law basically states that your major workouts for the upper or lower body should be separated by at least 72 hours.

After 72 hours you should be recovered enough to train those body parts again. Many former Westside Barbell trainees such as Matt Wenning are big believers in this concept. 

Part 2: The Max Effort Method

The max effort method is at the heart and soul of the Westside Barbell training program. Louie Simmons believes that the best way to develop maximal strength necessary for competitive powerlifting is to utilize the max effort method.

Every week on your max effort days you are going to work up to a 1-3 rep max on a special exercise. Here is Westside expert Matt Wenning giving a perfect explanation of what the max effort method is all about:

Louie prefers for you to work up to a 1-rep max whenever possible as the maximal singles are best for eliciting neurological adaptations.

You are never going to max out on the competition squat, bench press, or deadlift. Instead you are going to use what Louie calls “special exercises.” These are exercises that are very similar to the competition lifts but with some slight differences.

Here are some of the most common max effort exercises used by the Westside Barbell team. Just click on the links to see a sample training video for each exercise!

Max Effort Bench Press Exercises:

Squat / Deadlift Max Effort Exercises:

As you can see Louie uses an absolutely ENORMOUS number of different exercises to train the squat, bench press and deadlift. As a general rule of thumb you should rotate to a new exercise every 1-3 weeks.

If you are a more advanced powerlifter or athlete then it is best to change the max effort exercise every single week.

Training at or above 90% of your 1-rep max year-round is a very demanding task. By changing the exercise every week you reduce the odds of your nervous system accommodating to the training stimulus and you allow for better long-term progress. 

The lower body max effort day has evolved quite a bit over the years.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s Louie would have his athletes max out on some sort of good morning about 70% of the time. He felt that the good morning was the best exercise to develop the maximal strength needed in the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

He also felt that deadlifting heavy too frequently would hinder his athletes’ progress.

For many years Louie’s lifters were putting up incredible numbers in the squat but their deadlifting numbers were lagging behind. In the early 2000s Louie decided to attack this problem and had his athletes start maxing out on the deadlift much more frequently.

Nowadays his athletes max out on some sort of deadlift every other week. For example here is what a 4 week lower body max effort schedule might look like nowadays:

  • Week 1: Deadlift variation
  • Week 2: Low box squat variation
  • Week 3: Deadlift variation
  • Week 4: Good morning variation

This is the modern Westside Barbell approach to max effort exercises. Keep in mind Louie Simmons is always experimenting. The only people who really know what Louie is doing are training at Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio right now!

Part 3: The Dynamic Effort Method

The second major training method of the westside barbell training program is the dynamic effort method. The dynamic effort method involves lifting sub maximal weights as quickly and explosively as possible.

Louie Simmons originally started using the dynamic effort method in the Westside training split because most of his lifters could not recover from 2 max effort workouts per week for the bench press or the squat.

However, the dynamic effort method has its own advantages.

The dynamic effort method increases your rate of force development, or your ability to quickly demonstrate your maximal strength.

Think of 2 cars that both have a top speed of 60 miles per hour. The first car takes 3 seconds to reach its top speed of 60 miles per hour while the second car takes only 2 seconds. If these cars were to race each other the second car would demolish the first one even though they both have the same top speed.

The dynamic effort method reduces the amount of time it takes for your muscles to exert maximum force. In other words the dynamic effort method is like an engine that helps a car reach its peak speed faster.

If you are more explosive out of the bottom position of the “big 3” powerlifting lifts then your 1-rep max strength will increase.

Here is Matt Wenning talking about the dynamic effort bench:

Dynamic Effort Bench Presses

As you should already know dynamic effort work is performed on its own seperate day of the week 3-4 days after the max effort day. For the dynamic effort bench press day you are going to perform 10 sets of 3 reps as explosively as possible.

The total weight or tension at the top of the lift should be between 50-60% of your 1-rep max if you are using straight weight and 60-70% if you are using bands or chains. The weights are waved in a 3-week wave. 

For example here is what a 3-week dynamic effort bench press wave might look like using straight weight:

  • Week 1: 10 x 3 @ 50%
  • Week 2: 10 x 3 @ 55%
  • Week 3: 10 x 3 @ 60%

Here is what a 3-week wave might look like using chains:

  • Week 1: 10 x 3 @ 55%
  • Week 2: 10 x 3 @ 60%
  • Week 3: 10 x 3 @ 65%

And here is what a 3-week wave might look like using bands:

  • Week 1: 10 x 3 @ 60%
  • Week 2: 10 x 3 @ 65%
  • Week 3: 10 x 3 @ 70%

After the third week you would start another 3 week wave using a similar percentage scheme. This waving of the weights on the dynamic effort day prevents your body from accommodating to the loads and allows for continuous training adaptations.

The key when using the dynamic effort method on the bench press is to press the bar as explosively as possible. You are trying to press so hard that the bar literally flies out of your hands at the top!

Louie generally recommends that you rest for 60 seconds between sets. This is a medium-load, high-volume training session designed to significantly increase your work capacity among other things.

If you are not at least a little out of breath then you are probably not sticking to the appropriate rest periods!

Here is Louie Simmons himself coaching an athlete through a dynamic effort bench session:

“Drive! Drive! Drive!”

Notice how forcefully the athlete is pressing the weight. This is what your sets should look like!

Remember: (force) = (mass x acceleration). If you press a sub maximal weight as quickly as possible then you will be maximizing force production and creating adaptations within the nervous system. I

f you get lazy and don’t put enough effort into your dynamic effort sets then the workout will be wasted.

Dynamic Effort Squats

Friday’s dynamic effort lower body workout is all about the squat. Yes, speed deadlifts are still performed after the deadlift on this day. However, the dynamic effort squat is where you should be channeling all of your energy. 

Louie generally recommends using 60-80% of your 1-rep max for your speed squat sets. These percentages represent the total weight (including any chain weight or band tension) at the very top of the lift.

You should stick with the lower end of the percentage range if using straight weight and the higher end of the weight range if using accommodating resistance such as chains and bands.

Here is a sample 3-week straight weight wave:

  • Week 1: 8 x 2 @ 60%
  • Week 2: 8 x 2 @ 65%
  • Week 3: 8 x 2 @ 70%

Here is a sample 3-week chain weight wave:

  • Week 1: 8 x 2 @ 65%
  • Week 2: 8 x 2 @ 70%
  • Week 3: 8 x 2 @ 75%

And here is a sample 3-week band tension wave:

  • Week 1: 8 x 2 @ 70%
  • Week 2: 8 x 2 @ 75%
  • Week 3: 8 x 2 @ 80%

These percentages are not set in stone. However, they should serve as a very useful starting point. In the fourth week you would lower the weights back down and start a new 3-week wave.

The number of sets that you perform for the dynamic effort squat is also not set in stone. Louie has had his athletes perform as many as 12 or as few as 4 sets of doubles. As a general rule of thumb 8 sets is a very good starting point.

Just like with the dynamic effort bench you should rest approximately 60 seconds between sets. These short rest periods are very demanding but they play an important part of Louie’s overall training system. 

Here is what a typical Westside Barbell dynamic effort squat workout might look like:

Dynamic Effort Deadlifts

The speed deadlifts are always performed directly after the speed squats. There are two main ways that you can perform speed deadlifts: from the floor or in the rack.

The speed deadlifts from the floor are performed for 4-8 sets of singles. You can either use straight weight or bands on these singles. Louie has a strong preference for doing speed deadlifts with bands but either method will work.

Here is what a typical 3-week speed deadlift wave looks like with straight weight:

  • Week 1: 4-8 x 1 @ 50%
  • Week 2: 4-8 x 1 @ 55%
  • Week 3: 4-8 x 1 @ 60%

And here is a typical 3-week speed deadlift wave with bands:

  • Week 1: 4-8 x 1 @ 60%
  • Week 2: 4-8 x 1 @ 65%
  • Week 3: 4-8 x 1 @ 70%

One minute rest periods are used in either case. On week 4 you would drop the weight back down and start over with another 3-week wave. 

This is what Westside Barbell did for speed deadlifts for the 80s, 90s, and even the early 2000s. However, sometime around the mid-2000’s Louie Simmons began experimenting with speed rack deadlifts performed with heavy band tension.

These bands were quadrupled so that they offered dramatically more tension in the top position vs the bottom position. The rack pulls themselves are normally pulled from 2-6 inches off the ground. Pulling from higher than a 6-inch elevation is counterproductive in Louie’s eyes.

Rather than doing single reps Louie had his athletes doing 8-10 sets of 3 reps. This is an absolutely ungodly amount of volume but the Westside crew seems to be thriving on it.

This change happened around the same time that Louie had his team switch to performing deadlifts roughly 50% of the time on the max effort workouts. 

Here is what a typical 3-week wave might look like for the speed rack deadlifts:

  • Week 1: 8-10 x 3 @ 70%
  • Week 2: 8-10 x 3 @ 75%
  • Week 3: 8-10 x 3 @ 80%

Once gain the percentage denotes the total tension (from weights and bands) at the top of the lift. The band tension at the bottom of the lift is obviously far less than 70-80%.

Once again you should rest for about 60 seconds between sets here. One more thing: the speed rack pulls are ONLY performed with a conventional stance. Sumo stance speed rack pulls are not allowed!

Here is a video of the Westside crew performing some triples on the speed rack deadlifts against bands:

The man at the start of the video is a very old but still very strong Louie Simmons.

If you are new to the Westside Barbell training program then I recommend you stick to performing your speed deadlifts from the floor for singles.

However, if you are more of an advanced lifter then you may want to experiment with the speed rack pulls for triples. The rack pulls are far more demanding on your recovery system but well worth the effort if you can handle them.

Part 4: The Repetition Effort Method

The repetition effort method is often called the “bodybuilding method.” Any time you are doing something other than max effort work or dynamic effort work you are using the repetition effort method. This includes all of your supplemental exercises and accessory work.

The repetition effort method plays an absolutely crucial role in the Westside Barbell training philosophy. Louie has repeatedly stated that about 80% of the work that his athletes perform is with the repetition effort method.

The key is to pick the right exercises to address your weak points. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Your performance on the “big 3” is always going to be limited by a weak muscle group. It doesn’t matter if the rest of your upper body is strong enough to bench press 400 pounds; if your triceps are only strong enough to bench press 300 pounds then that is where you will be stuck.

There are many different ways to use the repetition effort method. Here is Matt Wenning giving an overview of some different strategies:

Of course it is very important to understand the difference between supplemental exercises and accessory exercises. Supplemental exercises are movements that are similar to the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

They are usually performed for 2-4 sets of 4-6 reps and are aimed at building up muscular weaknesses that are limiting your performance on the main lift. Any movement that could be performed as a max effort exercise could also be performed as a supplemental exercise.

The accessory exercises are of course quite different.

These are your higher-rep “bodybuilding” exercises designed to build muscular size and work capacity in all of the smaller supporting muscles. Accessory exercises are performed for the triceps, lats, and delts on the upper body days and for the posterior chain on the lower body days.

Here are some of the most common accessory exercises that Louie Simmons uses to train every body part:

Westside Shoulder Accessory Exercises

  • Flat DB presses
  • Incline DB presses
  • High-rep bench presses 
  • High-rep floor presses
  • Bamboo bar bench presses

Sense the mid 2000’s Louie Simmons began using the bamboo bar both as a form of shoulder rehab and as a way to strengthen his bench press. Here is a video example:

The bamboo bar is extremely flexible and wobbles all over while you bench press. The chaotic environment of both the bar and the swinging weights increases the neurological requirements on your upper body musculature to keep your shoulders nice and stable.

If you begin using this bar I am confident your shoulders will be much healthier and your bench press will quickly improve.

If you do not have access to a bamboo bar then you may want to experiment with hanging bands off a regular barbell and training in a similar fashion. It won’t be quite as effective as the hanging band method but it will still be highly beneficial.

Westside Chest Accessory Exercises

Louie believes that the triceps are the most important muscle group to train for a huge bench press. These exercises are an absolute must if you want to train the Westside way.

Let’s take a look at some sample training videos:

Upper Back Accessory Exercises

Westside Delt Accessory Exercises

  • All forms of shoulder raises
  • All forms of rotator cuff work

Westside Lower Back Accessory Exercises

Hamstrings

  • Glute ham raises
  • Sled drags
  • Belt squats
  • Leg curls (machines, weights, or bands)

Please keep in mind that there is no list of “Westside-approved accessory exercises. Louie believes that you have to experiment for yourself and find which exercises work best for you for attacking your weak points. If an exercise is not working for you then stop doing it and focus on the ones that work best for you!

Part 5: Identifying Weak Points

Powerlifting coach Dave Tate has correctly pointed out on numerous occasions that there are three possible reasons why you might miss a lift:

  1. Technical reasons
  2. Mental reasons
  3. Physical reasons

In other words you can miss a lift because your technique is off, because you have a mental barrier preventing you from lifting the weight, or because you were not physically strong enough to make the lift.

In this section I will focus on the physical reasons for missing a lift. As Louie Simmons has pointed out over and over again there is always a weak muscle group that is holding your strength back on the “big 3.” Your job as a lifter is to identify what these weaknesses are and then to attack them relentlessly until they improve.

For argument’s sake let’s focus on the bench press. The vast majority of the time a lifter will miss the bench press at one of two different locations: off the chest or near lockout.

Louie has some powerful strategies that he uses to address these 2 sticking points.

Bench press sticking point: off the chest

Louie has a lot of his raw bench pressers perform high-rep DB and barbell presses to failure to address a weakness right off the chest. In fact Louie frequently has his lifters perform 2 sets of DB or barbell presses to failure in the 15-25 rep range immediately after the max effort or dynamic effort bench press set.

These high-rep sets taken to failure help to build muscle mass in the chest and shoulders and go a long ways in increasing your drive off the chest.

Another one of Louie Simmons’ favourite training tools is the bamboo bar bench press. Louie originally started using the bar to rehabilitate an injured shoulder but quickly found out that it made a massive difference in his lifter’s raw bench pressing strength.

Once again you can perform 2 relatively high rep sets to near-failure. Going all the way to failure is not recommended with this exercise for safety reasons. You don’t want the bar whipping back and landing on your forehead at maximum speed!

There are many other methods to address a weakness off the chest (speed work etc.) but these are two of Louie’s favorites.

Bench press sticking point: near lockout

Many raw bench pressers and almost all “equipped” bench pressers miss the bench press at or near lockout. Louie believes that this almost always comes down to a weakness in the triceps. There are two main ways to attack this type of weakness: 

  1. Compound pressing movements
  2. Isolation exercises

Louie believes both compound and isolation exercises have their place for bringing up lagging triceps. Great compound triceps exercises include the board press, the elevated pin press, chain presses, and band presses.

However, Louie tends to emphasize isolation movements with most of his athletes. Many Westside trainees will perform as many as 3 different triceps isolation exercises in one single workout!

Louie’s favorite exercises for this purpose include rolling DB extensions, dead stop skull crushers, Tate presses, and bamboo bar skull crushers. Almost all extensions are performed on a flat surface. The flat angle does an excellent job of overloading the lateral head of the triceps which is critical for a huge bench press.

Part 6: Rotating Exercises

The conjugate method is built around the idea of rotating different special exercises in-and-out of your training at predefined time intervals. This rotation of exercises helps to prevent your body from becoming “bored” with the training stimulus.

One of the trickier aspects of conjugate periodization is that you rotate the max effort, dynamic effort, and repetition effort exercises at different time intervals. Let’s take a closer look at this concept:

The Max Effort Method

As a general rule of thumb you should change your exercises every 1-3 weeks when using the max effort method. The more advanced you are as a lifter the more frequently you should change your exercises.

If you are an intermediate or advanced powerlifter using the westside barbell training program then you should probably be changing your exercises every single week. It is extremely important to rotate through exercises that are very different from each other.

For example here are some ways to vary your bench press max effort exercises:

  • Different grips (close vs medium vs wide)
  • Different bench angles (flat vs incline vs decline)
  • Different resistance types (straight weight vs chains vs bands vs reverse bands)
  • Different ranges of motion (bench vs floor press vs board press etc.)

Louie believes you will get your best results if you are literally constantly changing the exercises and overloading different points in the strength curve.

The main disadvantage of this strategy is that it can be difficult for less experienced lifters to accurately judge whether or not they are making progress. Training with a powerlifting team is strongly recommended so that other lifters can help assess your weak points and your overall progress.

The Dynamic Effort Method

The dynamic effort method is normally performed in 3-week waves. The slight increase in weight from week to week will help to prevent your body from accommodating to any one specific load.

After the three weeks are over it is recommended that you switch to a new 3-week dynamic effort wave. This may include changing the amount or type of accommodating resistance. Performing the exact same type of wave over and over will result in diminishing returns over time.

The Repetition Effort Method

How often you rotate your repetition effort exercises is a highly individual thing. As a general rule of thumb most lifters will do well to change their accessory exercises once every 4 workouts.

For example, you could perform a specific accessory exercise on every upper body workout for 2 weeks straight before swapping it out. You could also perform a specific accessory exercise on max effort workouts only and swap it out after 4 weeks.

Both of these strategies work well. It really just depends on your psychological profile (aka your neurotransmitter profile).

The only major exception to this rule would be the reverse hyperextension and the glute ham raise. These exercises are often used consistently over the course of an entire training cycle without breaks.

Part 7: Bands And Chains

Louie Simmons was arguably the first man to begin experimenting with bands and chains to build maximal strength in an athletic population.

Nowadays bands and chains are widely regarded as one of the most effective and versatile training tools in the world.

They are primarily used by powerlifters and other strength athletes although many bodybuilders have begun to see the light and have started to use these tools in their own training programs.

The primary benefit of bands and chains is that they accommodate resistance.

Every exercise has a strength curve. The strength curve is simply a mathematical model showing how much force you can produce at various joint angles.

The squat, bench press and deadlift all have an ascending strength curve. This means that your muscles can produce more force at the top positions of these lifts than they can at the bottom.

Just think about it: where are you stronger, at the top or bottom of a back squat? At the top of course! One of the problems with “straight weight” is that you are never really overloading the top portions of these exercises.

Fortunately bands and chains offer a convenient solution to this problem.

Chains

Chains are an absolutely fantastic tool for a powerlifter. Let’s hear what Matt Wenning has to say about them before diving deeper into this topic:

As you lift the barbell up more and more of the chain links come off the ground. This means that as you approach lockout the lift becomes harder. This makes chains an excellent tool for both dynamic effort work and max effort exercises.

Chains have some other benefits though. The chains tend to oscillate underneath you during exercises such as bench presses and squats. This means that there is an increased neurological stimulus to your muscles to stabilize the loads.

The chains also lower the center of mass of the exercise to somewhere below where the barbell is. Pressing a weight where the center of mass is below your hands gives the exercise a totally different feel and is a great way to stimulate further strength gains. 

Bands

Bands are arguably more effective but also much more neurologically taxing than either straight weight or chains. They are an extreme training method that is best reserved for advanced lifters.

Once again here is Matt Wenning sharing some thoughts on using bands as accomodating resistance:

The bands do not add any physical weight to the bar. Instead they pull the barbell down to the ground as if they were giant rubber bands. This effectively means that the barbell is accelerating down to the ground much faster than the normal speed of gravity.

Bands can cause extreme soreness if you are not careful. The upside to them is that they can give you some screaming fast strength gains when programmed properly. One of the challenges with bands is not using them too frequently.

If you overdo it on bands you will have a hard time recovering from your workouts and you may even find that your technique with straight weight is thrown off. Despite the drawbacks bands are a powerful tool that deserve a place in your training toolbox.

Part 8: The Circa-Max Phase

Louie Simmons has his athletes use what he calls the “circa-max phase” to peak for powerlifting competitions. This is essentially a 3-week phase where you go extremely heavy on your dynamic effort squats with tons of band tension.

During this 3-week period you are only going to perform accessory exercises on your max effort day. This is essentially how Louie peaks his lifters’ strength on the back squat.

Here is a good video showing what the circa max squats should look like:

Here is what a typical 3-week circa-max wave might look like for an advanced lifter:

Dynamic Effort Squat

  • Week 1: 47.5% bar weight + 40-45% band weight for 5 x 2
  • Week 2: 50% bar weight + 40-45% band weight for 4 x 2
  • Week 3: 52.5% bar weight + 40-45% band weight for 3 x 2

All of the percentages are based on your previous best competition squat. Week 4 would be your deload week prior to your powerlifting meet and week 5 would be the powerlifting meet itself.

You may also want to go reasonably heavy on your dynamic effort deadlift sets during weeks 1 and 3 to peak your strength on the deadlift for your powerlifting meet.

For example it may be a good idea to work up to 90%+ during week #1 and 95%+  during week #3. Don’t worry, I cover the circa-max phase in more depth in the sample 12-week training routines provided at the end of this article.

Part 9: Westside Raw

Over the years a large number of powerlifters have criticized the westside barbell training system saying that it is only optimal for geared powerlifters.

In my opinion Matt Wenning has done an excellent job of tweaking the conjugate periodization training system to make it work absolutely AWESOME for the raw lifter.

Matt’s basic idea is to perform a straight weight set in the “big 3” every third week. In between these workouts he would perform the usual westside exercises with bands and chains etc. By returning to straight weight every third week Matt found that he was able to dial in his technique more effectively for his raw meets.

Here is Matt himself talking about this unique training strategy that he developed:

Here is what a typical 12-week training cycle might look like for Matt Wenning as he peaks for a raw powerlifting meet:

  • Week 12: 80% x 5
  • Week 11: Max effort work
  • Week 10: Max effort work
  • Week 9: 85% x 4
  • Week 8: Max effort work
  • Week 7: Max effort work
  • Week 6: 88% x 3
  • Week 5: Max effort work
  • Week 4: Max effort work
  • Week 3: 92% x 2
  • Week 2: Max effort work
  • Week 1: Max effort work
  • Week 0: Meet day!

I have seen many attempts to make Westside more effective for raw lifters. However, I believe Matt Wenning’s take on westside for raw powerlifters to be the most promising.

I highly recommend you borrow this 12-week format to prepare for your next competition.

Part 10: Sample 12-Week Bench Cycle

To conclude this comprehensive guide I am going to give you a sample 12-week Westside Barbell training cycle for both the bench press and the squat / deadlift. A huge part of conjugate periodization is attacking your weak points to drive up your strength.

Obviously I do not know what your specific weak points are so I have written this as more of a “cookie cutter” program that should work reasonably well for most people.

I am extremely confident that this 12-week program will work AWESOME if you are someone who responds well to this type of periodization. Here are the bench press workouts:

Week #1

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against bands (shoulder-width grip), 3 x 1**, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Bamboo bar bench press, 2 x 10-15, 2/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Flat rolling DB extension, 8 x 8, 2/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Cable pull down (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Front DB raises, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against chains (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 4-board press against bands, 2 x 4-6, 2/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Dead stop skull crusher, 3 x 8-10, 2/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Barbell row, 3 x 10-12, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Bent-over rear delt raise (elbows bent), 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 55% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #2

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: 3-board bench press (wide grip), 3 x 1, 3/1/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Bamboo bar bench press, 2 x 10-15, 2/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Flat rolling DB extension, 8 x 8, 2/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Cable pull down (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Front DB raises, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against chains (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 4-board press against bands, 2 x 4-6, 2/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Dead stop skull crusher, 3 x 8-10, 2/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Barbell row, 3 x 10-12, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Bent-over rear delt raise (elbows bent), 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 60% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #3

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Floor press against chains, 3 x 1, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Bamboo bar bench press, 2 x 10-15, 2/0/1/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Flat rolling DB extension, 8 x 8, 2/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Cable pull down (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Front DB raises, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against chains (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 4-board press against bands, 2 x 4-6, 2/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Dead stop skull crusher, 3 x 8-10, 2/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Barbell row, 3 x 10-12, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Bent-over rear delt raise (elbows bent), 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 65% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #4

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Flat DB press, 3 x 15-25**, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Flat rolling DB extension, 8 x 8, 2/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • C1: Cable pull down (wide / pronated grip), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Front DB raises, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**All 3 sets performed to failure using the same weight.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against bands (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 4-board press against bands, 2 x 4-6, 2/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Dead stop skull crusher, 3 x 8-10, 2/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Barbell row, 3 x 10-12, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Bent-over rear delt raise (elbows bent), 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 60% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #5

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Dead stop bench press (1 inch above the chest, medium grip), 3 x 1, 1/0X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Standing military press (shoulder-width grip), 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Decline DB extension, 3 x 10-12, 3/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Seated cable rope face pull (with external rotation), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/2, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Band pull-apart, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/1, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against bands (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated half press in rack, 2 x 5, 2/1/X/1, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Band pushdown, 3 x 20-25, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Bilateral machine row, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB lateral raise, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 65% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #6

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: 30 degree incline bench press (close grip), 3 x 1, 5/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Standing military press (shoulder-width grip), 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Decline DB extension, 3 x 10-12, 3/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Seated cable rope face pull (with external rotation), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/2, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Band pull-apart, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/1, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against bands (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated half press in rack, 2 x 5, 2/1/X/1, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Band pushdown, 3 x 20-25, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Bilateral machine row, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB lateral raise, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #7

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press with chains, 3 x 1, 3/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Standing military press (shoulder-width grip), 2 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Decline DB extension, 3 x 10-12, 3/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Seated cable rope face pull (with external rotation), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/2, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Band pull-apart, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/1, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against chains (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated half press in rack, 2 x 5, 2/1/X/1, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Band pushdown, 3 x 20-25, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Bilateral machine row, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB lateral raise, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 55% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #8

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: 30 degree incline DB press, 3 x 15-25**, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Decline DB extension, 3 x 10-12, 3/1/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Seated cable rope face pull (with external rotation), 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/2, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Band pull-apart, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/1/1, 60 seconds rest

**All 3 sets performed to technical failure with the same weight.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against chains (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Seated half press in rack, 2 x 5, 2/1/X/1, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Band pushdown, 3 x 20-25, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Bilateral machine row, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB lateral raise, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 60% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #9

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Floor press (medium grip), 3 x 1, 1/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: JM Press, 3 x 5-7, 3/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Tate press, 8 x 8, 2/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Wide neutral grip pull down, 3 x 10-12, 4/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB external rotations, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/2/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against chains (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: V-bar dips (upright torso), 2 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Overhead rope cable extensions, 3 x 6-8, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: T-bar row, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB hammer curls, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 65% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #10

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: 2-board bench press against bands (close grip), 3 x 1, 3/1/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: JM Press, 3 x 5-7, 3/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Tate press, 8 x 8, 2/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Wide neutral grip pull down, 3 x 10-12, 4/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB external rotations, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/2/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against bands (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: V-bar dips (upright torso), 2 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Overhead rope cable extensions, 3 x 6-8, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: T-bar row, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB hammer curls, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 60% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #11

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Reverse band bench press, 3 x 1, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: JM Press, 3 x 5-7, 3/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Tate press, 8 x 8, 2/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • D1: Wide neutral grip pull down, 3 x 10-12, 4/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB external rotations, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/2/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against bands (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: V-bar dips (upright torso), 2 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Overhead rope cable extensions, 3 x 6-8, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: T-bar row, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB hammer curls, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 65% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #12

Max Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: 15 degree incline DB press, 3 x 15-25**, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Tate press, 8 x 8, 2/0/X/0, 30 seconds rest
  • C1: Wide neutral grip pull down, 3 x 10-12, 4/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Seated DB external rotations, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/2/0, 60 seconds rest

**All 3 sets performed to failure with the same weights

Dynamic Effort Bench Day:

  • A1: Bench press against bands (close grip)**, 10 x 3, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: V-bar dips (upright torso), 2 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Overhead rope cable extensions, 3 x 6-8, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: T-bar row, 3 x 10-12, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • E1: Seated DB hammer curls, 3 x 12-15, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max at lockout.

Week #13

  • Meet weak / smash your old bench press pr!

Part 11: Sample 12-Week Squat / Deadlift Cycle

Here are the squat and deadlift workouts for your 12-week training cycle. This program is a little more complicated than the bench press program as I have included the formal “circa-max” phase in the final few weeks. I recommend you pay close attention to the format of the circa-max weeks so that you can get the most out of this peaking cycle.

Week #1

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Conventional rack pull against bands (weights elevated 4 inches), 3 x 1, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Safety squat bar good morning to parallel box, 3 x 5, 3/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Dynamic effort straight bar box squat against chains**, 8 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against chains****, 6 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 65% of your 1-rep max at lockout

****Performed with 65% of your 1-rep max at lockout

Week #2

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Parallel box squat with safety squat bar, 3 x 1, 2/1/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Safety squat bar good morning to parallel box, 3 x 5, 3/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Dynamic effort straight bar box squat against chains**, 8 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against chains****, 6 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max at lockout

****Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max at lockout

Week #3

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: 2 inch deficit deadlift (conventional or sumo), 3 x 1, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Safety squat bar good morning to parallel box, 3 x 5, 3/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Dynamic effort straight bar box squat against chains**, 8 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against chains****, 6 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 75% of your 1-rep max at lockout

****Performed with 75% of your 1-rep max at lockout

Week #4

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Chain suspended good morning, 3 x 5, 2/1/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Dynamic effort safety squat bar box squat against bands**, 8 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against bands****, 6 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max at lockout

****Performed with 70% of your 1-rep max at lockout

Week #5

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Deadlift against bands (sumo or deadlift), 3 x 1, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Belt squat 3 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Dynamic effort safety squat bar box squat against bands**, 8 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against bands****, 6 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 75% of your 1-rep max at lockout

****Performed with 75% of your 1-rep max at lockout

Week #6

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Low box squat against bands (medium stance / heels flat), 3 x 1, 4/1/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Belt squat 3 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Dynamic effort safety squat bar box squat against bands**, 8 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against bands****, 6 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 80% of your 1-rep max at lockout

****Performed with 80% of your 1-rep max at lockout

Week #7

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Conventional block pull (weights elevated 6 inches), 3 x 1, 2/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Belt squat 3 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Dynamic effort buffalo bar box squat against chains**, 8 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against chains****, 6 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 60% of your 1-rep max at lockout

****Performed with 60% of your 1-rep max at lockout

Week #8

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Safety squat bar good morning, 3 x 5, 4/0/X/0, 180 seconds rest
  • B1: Belt squat 3 x 5-7, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Dynamic effort buffalo bar box squat against chains**, 8 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against chains****, 6 x 1, X/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 65% of your 1-rep max at lockout

****Performed with 65% of your 1-rep max at lockout

Week #9

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: DB walking alternating lunges, 3 x 8-10, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 90 degree back extension (barbell on back), 3 x 8-10, 2/0/X/2, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Circa-max box squat against bands**, 5 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against bands****, 4 x 1, X/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 47.5% straight weight and 40-45% band tension. Percentages are based off your prior best competition squat.

**Performed with 90% of your best 1-rep max at lockout. Percentages are based off your prior best competition deadlift.

Week #10

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: DB walking alternating lunges, 3 x 8-10, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 90 degree back extension (barbell on back), 3 x 8-10, 2/0/X/2, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Circa-max box squat against bands**, 4 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against bands****, 4 x 1, X/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 50% straight weight and 40-45% band tension. Percentages are based off your best competition squat.

**Performed with 70% of your best 1-rep max at lockout. Percentages are based off your prior best competition deadlift.

Week #11

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: DB walking alternating lunges, 3 x 8-10, 2/0/1/0, 60 seconds rest
  • B1: 90 degree back extension (barbell on back), 3 x 8-10, 2/0/X/2, 60 seconds rest
  • C1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 6-8, 2/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Reverse hyperextension, 3 x 12-15, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed at 90%, 95%, and 100% of your estimated 1-rep max strength for that day.

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • A1: Circa-max box squat against bands**, 4 x 2, 2/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • B1: Dynamic effort deadlift against bands****, 4 x 1, X/0/X/0, 120 seconds rest
  • C1: Reverse hyperextensions, 3 x 8-10, 1/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest
  • D1: Glute ham raise, 3 x 10-12, 3/0/X/0, 60 seconds rest

**Performed with 52.5% straight weight and 40-45% band tension. Percentages are based off your best competition squat.

**Performed with 95% of your best 1-rep max at lockout. Percentages are based off your prior best competition deadlift.

Week #12

Max Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • Accessory exercises of your choice performed at 70% of normal weights.

Dynamic Effort Squat / Deadlift Day:

  • Accessory exercises of your choice performed at 70% of normal weights.

Week #13:

Meet week / smash your old squat / deadlift PRs!

Conclusion

Westside Barbell Program

The Westside Barbell training program has stood the test of time as one of the most effective powerlifting training programs ever invented.

Louie Simmons truly is a powerlifting genius and the strength training world owes this man a great deal of gratitude.

If you have ever used bands or chains (among many other training tools) then you are standing on the shoulders of one of the greatest strength coaches that has ever lived.

Thank you Louie Simmons for sharing your gift with the world! Your impact on the strength training universe will never be forgotten. As they say, Legends Never Die!

“The hardest thing for a human being to do is change. You have to be willing to change. Dinosaurs didn’t change and they are gone. If the athlete doesn’t change or adjust he is gone.

Thank you for reading and I wish you the best of luck in your strength training journey!

Dr. Mike Jansen

I am the creator and owner of Revolutionary Program Design. I help advanced athletes take their training to the next level and achieve results they never imagined possible.

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