Westside/Louie Simmons Frequently Asked Questions

QUESTION:  I am a second year powerlifter from Alabama. I am 19 years old with a 285 bench, 400 squat, and a 435 deadlift. I have been working out for seven years now. I hope to bench 400, squat 500, and deadlift near 550.  My future plans are to become a future powerlifting champion and
a strongman.  What do you think about my stats?

It doesn't matter what I think. What do you think? Never be satisfied with what you have done. Always look forward to setting new and reaching new goals. There will be plenty of time to reflect when you are dead.  My advice to you is to keep training and setting PR's and in time you will get what you want. It takes time to make it to the national level but its worth it. I feel anybody can make it there with smart training and the right attitude.

QUESTION:I have just found this site and I am a personal trainer.  I take great pleasure in your advice to not listen to most personal trainers.  I use "unorthodox" exercises and methods, such as purely free weights, periodization, concentration on the trunk and focusing on movements rather than bodybuilding.  I am just writing to say your "who does he train" attitude is great.  Keep it up

Thanks for your comments.

QUESTION:  I have been experiencing a lot of inconsistancy in my max bench. I train bench 2 days a week. Heavy days  are  include a pyramid to 5%( 5,3,2,1) of max adding 5 lbs every 2 weeks, inclines, declines 3 sets of 8. on heavy days I do upright rows, light tri( pulls, crushers, behind the neck) and 2 angles of bi curls. On light days my flat bench pyramid goes to 85% ( 7,5,3,2). I hit my tri's, bi's,and lats hard on my light bench days. Usually heavy crushers, tri pulls, preacher curls, standing curls, frontal and side delt raises, Lat pulls( front and back) pull ups. What could cause the inconsistancy? Is there a more effective program?

Try the Westside barbell program. Read all Louie articles, view the videos, subscribe to PLUSA. The program you are using is and has been a dead horse for some time now. The Westside program has produced and still has the world bench press record in the 220, 242, and 275 classes, as well as over 50 (500) pound bench pressers and 6 (600) pound bench pressers. These are just the numbers from our gym and does not include those from all the other lifters that follow our program. If you have any questions or would like to order the videos call 1-614-309-6176

QUESTION:What is the best max effort lift if you have a weak start in your bench ? I really have a hard time finding out what to do about a weak start. Also what special exercises are the best for my sticking point ? Thanks !

The best max effort exercise for a weak start of the chest is the cambered bar board press. Set it up so the bar goes only one or two inches lower than your chest (this is what the boards are for). Your assistance work should be composed of a lot of lat work and close to medium grip pressing.

QUESTION: HI, my questions are about box squatting. First, is there a good way of telling where parallel is on the box (box height).  I am new to powerlifting and unsure exactly where it is.  Second, when I sit back on the box as far as possible, it feels I have to lean forward excessivly (almost like a good morning) in order to keep my balance. I have watched the westside tapes and it does not appear the lifters have much of a forward lean, but importance is placed on sitting back as far as possible. I would be be gratefull for any information on these points.

Parallel is defined in every federation the same way. When the crease of the hip is parallel is parallel to the knee. Some federations want you to just break parallel while others want to see your ass on the floor. It is best to set your box up so you are breaking parallel by 1 or 2 inches. If you can't tell have somebody check for you. As far as your forward lean, learn how to arch your back. You can sit back and keep a tight arch. This will keep the bar moving in a straight line. 

QUESTION: Dave,I recently have begun to train with the WS methods, but too soon to tell if it's going to pay off.I have a meet in October,so I'll let you know how things turn out.  Anyway,my question is about chains/bands....Where do you get them? How do you use them?For example if on speed day you are benching 275 for 10x3 wouldn't the extra weight from the chains be counter productive to your
speed/explosion. I think I want to go for it,but obviously confused!! Please help me out.Thanks

You can get the bands from Jump stretch Inc. 1-800-344-3539 and the chains from Toppers 1-614-444-1187. You will keep the percentages the same and add the chains and bands to it. Keep in mind the tension is only greater at the top, where you are stronger. We are in the process of making a new video about the use of contrast methods. I will post a message to this page when they are ready for sale. 

QUESTION: Hello. I'm sorry to bother you, but I've been using the westside training protocol for the past six months with tremendous results. However, there are a few questions that puzzle the hell out of me.

1. I spoke to John Stanford at the APF junior nationals, and he told me that Louie advocates using the bench shirt six weeks prior to a meet to realize the full potential of assistance gear. yet, from i what i gather, on maximum effort day a standard heavy bench is never preformed. So what is the answer
to problem? Should I use the shirt for board and floor presses, and inclines or should preform regular bench presses?

I have no idea what John is talking about. We do not train with a bench shirt EVER. We may try it on in the gym to see how it fits once before a meet (aprox 4-6 weeks out) We will work up to around what we plan to open with. We do this 5 or 6 weeks out in case we need the alter the shirt. This may have been what john was referring to.

2. Increasing the volume of my tricep work has resulted in a large jump in my bench. i have included a lot of tricep extensions and moved my grip in on all of my pressing movements. The problem is though that my elbows are KILLING me. When I preform extensions i fell lile my elbow tendon is going to snap. My elbows are constantly sore. It is beginning to impede my progress.

If your elbows hurt then cut back down on the extension work to only one time a week. If you squat move your grip out. This can also cause elbow problems.

3. I live in Southern Califorina and powerlifting gyms are not readily available. The gym I work out in is a commercial gym. They do not have a reverse hyper, and to be perfectly honest with you, I don't know if I could justify blowing $1000 for a piece of exercise equipment. Is there some way I can work around this? Or perhaps if you know of any powerlifting gyms in the San Diego area, any infromation will be gratefully appreciated. Thank you very much for your time. I hope to hear from you soon.

It is hard to simulate  the reverse hyper. It is worth every cent!!!! I do not know of any gyms in your area. Try calling around to see if you can find one. (note from Deep: I hear the LA Lifting Club has two reverse hypers 1-818-846-5438)

QUESTION:my wife being a librarian,i was able to get kurtz's science of sports training on loan from a college library. when i delved into the world of out of print books, amazon.com couldnt come up with the book.borders.com had a paperback copy so i purchased that. also,the publisher,stadion,says it will
come out with a second edition in the fall. thanks for your help and our conversation on the phone has motivated me to take another trip to york to see their facility for holding meets.

Thanks for the info. I have pre ordered copies from stadion. I will post to the Q and A when the book is released. I also will be getting the following books some time next week:

Super Training (Siff & Verkhoshansky)
Science and Practice of Strength Training (Zatsiorsky)
Theory and Methodology of Training (Bompa)
Periodization Training for Sports (Bompa)
The Steroid Game (Yesalis)
Ergogenics Edge (Williams)
Anabolic Steroids in Sport and Exercise (Yesalis)
Power Eating (Kleiner)
Program Design for Personal Trainers (Brooks)
Explosive Power and Jumping Ability (Starzynski & Sozanski)
European Perspectives on Exercise and Sports Psychology (Biddle)
High Powered Plyometrics ( Radcliffe & Farentinos)
Program and Organization of Training ( Verkhoshansky)
Fundamentals of Special Strenth Training in Sport (Verkhoshansky)
The Training of the Weightlifter (Roman)
A System of Multi-Year Training in Weightlifting (Medvedyev)
The management of the Weightlifter

I am not sure on the prices yet. Most are set by the publisher. Give me a call if your have any questions Dave Tate 1-614-309-6176

QUESTION: I recently competed in a benchpress meet.  After my third lift and personal best, I felt pain in my testicles and what I think is my prostate. Is it possible I "blew a nut"?  Do you know anything about this?

I think you should see a doctor.

QUESTION:This isn't a question, just a comment.  My name is Kenn Patterson and I have been a Westside member since 1987, I have sen alot of people come and go.  I would just like to tell everyone that what Dave Tate tells you is nothing more than the absolute truth.  He is a incrediblely intelligent when it comes to the strength game and a great training partner.  At Westside we pride ourselves on our strength, but to be strong you have to have great training partners and that is what Dave is.  Listen to what he has to say and take any advice he will give.  He knows what he is talking about.  Thank You for your time.

Kenn Patterson
World Record Holder
728 @ 275

Thanks Kenny

QUESTION: how often should one incorporate the ssq. bar into the westside mesocycles

As often as you want. We like to use it for suspended good mornings and low box squats. I would suggest using it in some way every third mini cycle.

QUESTION: Last month you printed your speed day squat cycle leading up to the IPA World Cup. Could you print what you & Louie did on SQ/DL max effort day as well so we can get an idea of how the whole thing went together?  Thanks.

For our max effort stuff we  did a lot of cambered bar good mornings, as well as  low box safety squat bar squats,  Band Deadlifts, Suspended safety squat bar good mornings, buffalo bar good mornings, and arch back good mornings (only the second to last week before the meet). We did each movement no more than two weeks, must of the time it was only for one week. After the max effort work we did a ton of  Glute Ham Raises, Pull Down Abs, and reverse hypers. 

QUESTION: I was wondering if the westside methods are just as efficient for the raw lifter, as for the lifter who uses gear ?? If not how can you change it to suit a raw lifter ?

Thanks for all the great info on powerlifting !

We train Raw all year round. The only exception would be  loose suit bottoms on speed squat day.  I would not change anything.

QUESTION: Dave, thank you for taking the time to respond to all our questions. I have the videos and they have really helped alot. Especially the box squats.   I have a few questions. First should i always strive to lower the level of the box? At first i could not get very low with any kind of power but it is
slowly coming along.How low should i strive to get? 

You should strive to do your speed sets at  parallel or 1 inch below . On max effort day try to work in some exercise going 2 to 3 inches below you speed day squat box. This can include safety squat bar, front squats, or manta ray

Second I was wondering about diet? I know this may be a off the subject of westside methods but it would really help me alot to understand how you guys eat.

We eat anything we want. I recommend trying to keep your protein up to as close to 1 gram per pond of lean body mass. Your lean body mass is determined by subtracting your percentage of body fat from your overall body mass.

Lastly. I'm 39 yr. old. I am so inspired by Louie at age 52!! I think you are 39?

I feel old sometimes, but I am not there yet. I am only 31

Could you give us some insight on getting older and how your training has changed and how age effects Louie and yourself?

Most of it is in your mind. I am the wrong person to ask on this because I am not a master lifter. I can however comment on how Louie feel about it. He feels age means nothing and will not compete as a master EVER. I have to agree with him that age can't matter that much because he kicks all our
asses in the gym year round.

Thank you again.

QUESTION: I am about to complete my first minicycle using the Westside training method.  I plan to max out on week 10.  What is the best way to warm up for a max single?

Warm up the same way you would when you do your sets. Once you get to the weight you would usually do your sets at cut back and just do singles until you hit your max.

Also I would like to know your opinion about what grip to use for the bench press.  I have been doing most of my speed work and special exercises with the little finger inside the ring, and some sets with close grips and in between.

I feel you should train your bench using three grips. None of these should be your compensation grip.

Today I am in my sixth week and I used illegally wide benches for a six rep max, and I found my strength at this position is not good at all.  I feel good with my little finger inside the rings, but I keep reading articles that suggest I go out as wide as possible. What grip do you guys recommend at Westside?

We train all our exercises wit a medium or close grip. Save the wide grip for the meet.

QUESTION:I read some where that I should try to hold my breath while lifting? Is this true? I would think one would pass out.

Breathing can have a huge effect on your strength. It can and will make or break a lift. You should try to holding your air during a Max effort attempt. The Valsalva Manoeure that is part of breath holding helps to create intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure will help to stabilize the spine and keep the core tight during the lift. If you are exhaling during the concentric phase of a heavy lift you will loose your tightness as well as your core stability. At the same time don't be stupid, you can't hold your breath for a set of ten reps. I try to keep my air as long as possible. On my squat days I can do this for one squat rep, and bench days I can hold for 3 reps. For any submaximal lifting I would recommend not worrying about it as much,  just breath naturally. 

QUESTION: what exercises do you do on a stability ball? and what is the difference between the videos?

The stability ball can be used for what ever you can think of. We use it for all types of presses and abdominal work.

The Videos:

The Squat Video: This is a great video to start with. It shows the proper exercise tech. of many of the max effort exercises as well as how to do the box squat. I also explains some of the methodology behind the squat training.

The Squat Workout: These tapes show it there entirety 3 max effort workouts and 3 speed workouts. These videos help to put it all together. 

The Bench Video Revised: Same as the squat video except it is the bench press.

The Bench Press Workout: Same as the squat workout except it is the bench press.

The Deadlift video: Very similar to the squat video except it goes more into deadlift tech.

If you are interested in these or have any other questions call me at 614-309-6176.

QUESTION: I am rather tall (6' 6") and thin (250).  I have always found that I had more power squatting when I had a narrower (feed shoulder width) stance.

This is because you haven't developed your hip strength yet. I feel your hips and glutes have a greater strength potential than you quads. 
Yet it seems that the Louie Simmons method of squatting is with an extremely wide style. The same goes for benching.  I find that I get the most power with a wider grip yet Louie advocates a narrower grip. Thanks for your help

We only train with the narrow grip, we compete with a wide grip. The close grip will isolate the triceps more.

QUESTION: My bench press sticking point is just above the half-way point.

1.How often should I do board presses to overcome this weak point?
2.What other max effort exercises should I do to overcome this weak point?

Check the archives. I have already answered this question.

I do the same tricep exercises on both speed and max effort days, then I switch them out every 2 weeks. Do you think it's better to do different tri exercises for the speed and Max efforst days?

If it is working for you keep it the same. I like to change it up every workout with higher reps on speed day and lower reps on max effort day.

QUESTION: I am a new power lifter in the junior division.  I am wondering about cardio work? How much, when, etc.  My coach follows the Westside Techniques but he does not do much cardio.  I am 5'10", 235, with 22% bodyfat.  I totalled 1275 in my 1st meet, 1365 at York for my 2nd.  Any help
would really be nice. 

The only cardio work I would have you do is sled dragging. I feel your body fat is a little to high for your weight class. 10 - 15% would be a better range for you. The sled work I would have you do would be some where around 20 minutes non-stop after every workout.


Keep it all the same. Don't go too heavy. Remember the sled is being used for restoration not strength training. Restoration is a greater issue for the drug free lifter because they don't have the same recuperation as the drug using lifter. I would drop the sled work the week before the meet.

QUESTION: I have been doing reverse hypers for a while now with plenty of success. Unfortunately, I seem to have hit a plateau. Should I stop doing them, or should I change the reps/sets?

You have already answered your own question. Change It up! If you are 12 weeks or more away from a meet only do the hypers twice a week, one time heavy and one time light. As the meet approaches push the hypers up to twice a week heavy (5 - 8 reps) and twice light (10 - 15 reps).

QUESTION: Does Louie have any articles in which he goes into detail in describing compensatory acceleration?

I think the best explanation of Compensatory Acceleration I have ever read is by Fred Hatfield in his book POWER. He writes of the lifer who squats 5 sets of 5 reps. He guessed that only 25% of the work was enough to force the adaptive. This 25% was in the bottom part of the lift where the lifter
strains. The upper part of the motion involves better leverage so the weight is lighter. This is why you can partial squat more than you can full squat. He also writes that what you are left with is only the last two reps are difficult enough to force any kind of adaptive process. The first three reps are easy because you not in fatigued state. Thus 75% of the movement is wasted.

As I see it, there are three ways to get 100% efficiency out every rep. 

  1. Isokinetics
  2. Contrast Methods
  3. Compensatory Acceleration

I will discuss the last two as they are the easiest to use. The use of contrast methods such as chains and bands will cause greater efficiency because the weight will never feel lighter. At the point where you body will normally start to slow down the bands and chains kick in. This will cause the lifter to have to apply force throughout the entire movement. Thus, a higher percent of efficiency.

Compensatory Acceleration is similar to contrast methods and Isokinetics except that you have to control the amount of effort being produced. The idea according to Fred is to "speed up the movement in such a way that increased leverage is accommodated for" Other benefits according to Fred are Fewer Injuries because you can use a lower percentage of weight and the over all Power is increased. He also states that with explosive movements against resistance the Golgi tendon organ will be delayed in sending its stretch message to the brain. When the happens the brain sends a message to the contracting muscle to shut down. This response limits strength. So by delaying this message you are allow your strength to increase.

This information provided by Fred can help you see the why  percent training with fewer reps and Compensatory Acceleration has helped so many of our lifers. When this is combined with the use of contrast methods the overall effect is much greater as seen in the recent PR's set by Westside lifters.

Also, what type of rep performace is used in the repeated effort method or in traing for muscle hypertrophy?

I have found the best range to be in the 12 to 17 rep range.

QUESTION: Here's my training question.  It is a follow up to your answer a few issues back.  The question was originally what's recommended to add hypertrophy piece to WS workout.  You had said that after Core Exercises to add sets of 8-10 reps on Speed days and sets of 5 reps on Max days.  I have been doing about 3-4 sets as I am a beginner and wanted to see first how my recovery would be (It's been fine). On Speed days I am reducing the weight slightly. Should I not decrease it at all or keep as I am doing?

Keep the weight the same on your speed exercises: Squat and Bench Press

 hould I try to do these higher rep sets for speed?

A good Tempo would be X~1~2. This means explosive on the concentric with a 1 second pause, and 2 seconds concentric. Another good Tempo for hypertrophy is 2~1~2.

ON Max days I am reducing the weight slightly as well, but keeping the high rep sets as heavy as manageable- but not able after maxing to then do them at same weight.

How can it be a Max Effort if the weight is reduced. Try to do the max effort exercise for sets of 3 reps. This will keep the muscle under tension longer.

Please comment.  And again thanks for your generosity.

QUESTION: I'm 39 and I'm a still competing in the shot (spin-style). I want to be as explosively strong as possible. All the top-notch throwers promote Olympic lifting. Would do you suggest?

I also need to loose 50 pounds of fat. Can I do this while still training to become faster, stronger and throwing farther? If so, how?

Why be a follower when you can be a leader? Why do they promote Olympic Lifting? I would suggest trying the Westside program as outlined in Louie's articles as well as through this page (strength online). I will be shocked if you don't notice a difference within 6 weeks. You can lose weight and get
stronger at the same time. The key to doing this is keeping the protein up and losing the weight slowly.

QUESTION: I'm new to heavy lifting, although I have lifted for 3-6 month periods in the past as part of sports training.  I'm genetically fairly big (6', 210 when in good shape; 230 with excess body fat).  I've gotten more serious about lifting and have been doing it fairly consistently for the past year.  I do 3 workouts a week, each devoted to specific body parts: legs (squat and others), chest-shoulders (bench and others), and back (deadlift and others).  I work in arms--curls, triceps presses, etc. during
those 3 days.  I am 51 years old, and that brings me to my question.  My max bench press is about 300 lbs, but I am too afraid of injuries at my age to try really heavy squats and deadlifts.  I do multiple rep deadlifts with 300 lbs (pyramid up to 3 sets of 5 reps) without much trouble.  Since I work out
at home without a spotter or a squat rack, I keep the squats down to about 255 lbs, reps up to 10-12 (the cardio effect gets me before the muscles).  I am thinking about!
 joining a gym and trying to increase the weights, but at my age do you think that would be wise?  The last thing I need is a ruptured disc or some kind of horrendous tendon tear.  So the question has to do with age--what kind of limits does it impose?

Proper form and technique is the most important aspect of training at any age. If you make sure you are using good form and you will not get hurt. Joining a gym is a good idea because it will expose you to more people who have the same goals as yourself as well as providing you with spotters.

QUESTION:Have a couple of question?
1) Here is my carryover from Box Squat to comp. squats wa 415 to 460. How can I get that Squat carryover high.

To get a bigger carry over on your box squat you need to get stronger. Your percent carry over  is at 90%. This is above the Westside "Elite" average of 84%. So you are getting a higher carry over than we do.

2) Today, I did those Inlcline triceps ext. w/db for  10 sets of 10. I usually stay with the same weight for all the sets. But could I work up the weight each sets? Or will this be too hard on the elbow because I can't understand how you can put 25 lbs on your bench by doing these 3-6 weeks.

If you can work up the weight with each set then you have picked the wrong weight to start with. Try increasing the weight and see what happens. Keep in mind again the "percentage" when I say 25 pounds on a bench. This is 25 pounds on a 550+ bench press.

QUESTION: When do you think the final draft of the Westside Speed and Strength Journal will be completed and how much will it cost to obtain. I recently found out about Westside training methods and I'm very impressed with the results I'm getting. I would love to purchase a copy of journal whenever it's ready and I just want to know how much it's going cost me.  Thanks a lot,

The journal is finished and I like the way it turned out. The cost of the journal is $35.00 (shipping included). Call me at 1-614-309-6176

QUESTION: Hi Dave I have recently been reading as many articles about the WSB System and I like the concepts....I am a real basic lifter doing most of it at home ...making fair gains with out a partner...I'm not familiar with certain exercises and would like to know if you have a video showing and explaining them in detail...

All the exercises are explained in the Westside Barbell Videos. Give me a call at 1-614-309-6176 and we will figure out which ones will work best for your training needs.

QUESTION: What do you think of all the Westside barbell "Louie Simians" information on the Internet? Is  it the real deal or just BS)

Most of it is BS. There is a lot of Westside misinformation on the Internet. There are too many so called Westside experts on the Internet. Very few have ever trained with Louie or at Westside for any duration. The information you find on my Q and A comes from my education in exercise science, continuous reading,  as well as spending the last 9 years being training partners with Louie Simmons, Kenny Paterson, and Chuck Vogelpol. We make up part of the the AM CREW at Westside barbell. Kenny and Chuck are TRUE  Westside barbell. 
They have been with Louie for over 15 years and have established themselves as the best in the world. They also have made me the lifter I am today (whatever that is?), and will make me a better lifter tomorrow.

We have been around this style of training so long that it is easy to determine where someone is weak and what they need to do to bring it up. This is because we have seen it many times before. Very rarely is there a new problem to solve. It always seems like the same shit but a different person. Here is the most important aspect of training at Westside "You need to listen to your training partners". They know better than you do about what you need. You see most people will never admit or don't know how to tell  where they are weak so the problem is never corrected. Not listening to your training partners is still the number one problem I see at our gym time and time again by both the new comers and experienced lifters.

 By the way the Westside posers who think they know what they are doing couldn't last a week with these guys in the gym! If you want to know what we do at Westside or what Louie says and does then you have to go to the source "WESTSIDE BARBELL"

QUESTION: Strength? Speed? Endurance?
I made good powerlifting progress in the past with HIT and more specifically with Mike Mentzer routines. Everyone I know eventually hits a plateau after 3 or 4 months w/ the 1 set to failure method, and all strength gains stop. Mike Mentzer would say we are overtraining, that we need to train only once every 5 or 6 days. I am fed up with training once a week and not getting any stronger! I read PLUSA and see that Westside guys train quite often and seem to do well with their totals in meets. It seems to me a natural lifter would have trouble making progress with all the sets you guys do. Mark

Why do you say this when the programs you are doing call for training the failure on every set whereas we never train to failure. Training has to be specific to the individual regardless of whatever circumstances. There are many drug free lifters making great gains with the Westside system. They
have to customize the program to their own needs and weaknesses the same way a enhanced lifter would.

QUESTION: I have a couple of questions I would like to run by you.  I have decided to enter a grappling tournament and was wondering if there might be a way to manipulate the westside program to help me better condition  for the competition. Can I train cardio and still maintain my strength and power?

You can still maintain you speed and power and even bring it up some. You don't need the strength of a powerlifter in your sport so the cardio won't hold you back. You do need speed endurance and strength endurance so try to keep your cardio specific to your sport. Try specific interval training
using exercises that are based around grappling.

My second question pertains to the squat.  My regular style is slightly narrow and I feel I use alot more quad strength when I lift.  I still train the box squat the way Louie described it, utilizing my glutes and hams. Will I benefit from modifying the way I box squat to better resemble my regular squat?  Any advice is always appreciated.  Thank you

When you are grappling are you in a narrow or wide stance? I would recommend trying the squat using three stances wide, medium, and narrow.

QUESTION: I have been doing the westside program since Jan. of this year. In 6 months I've added 90# to my squat and 60# to my bench. However, my DL is at best stagnant and has actually gone down a little. I pull conventional. My DL lags about 20% behind my squat. I have a large stomach and when I bend over to pick up the bar I can't breath very well. Should I add more direct DL work and with the large stomach would sumo style work better for me?

Try throwing in 6 to 8 singles with 50% after you speed squat workout. Train it with the same speed style you do your squats.