|Due to the volume of email I
have received asking for a further explanation of some of Louie's Special
exercises I have added this page. I hope it helps !!! I will do my best
to try and explain the exercises BUT some of them require visual input.
If $$$ allow, I highly recommend Louie's video series as most of the exercises
are demonstrated. I'm going to try to add a few pictures so
there will be some visual input here as well.
is the Louie's "System" and how does it differ from other methods of training?
How should I set up my routine?
First you need 72 hours between your dynamic and conjugate days. For example at Westside they do the Bench speed day on Sunday, the Sq/Dl max effort day on Monday, the Bench max effort day on Wednesday and the Squat speed day on Friday. Pick you days whenever you can but try to stick to the 72 hour rule. If you tend to overtrain easily then maybe you can spread it out a bit. I know a couple of guys that can only get in 3 training days per week and are making very good progress.
Click here for list of max effort day exercises.
Click here for list of max effort day exercises and comments.
Should I use
my regular contest grip for my benches?
What is a zercher squat?
Zercher squats are performed by setting a bar in the rack at about stomach height. Take the bar in the crooks of your elbows-use a towel or some padding- suck up a breath, push abs against your belt, step back and set up as if to do a squat. Squat down until the bar touches the tops of the thighs. Then stand up. Keep pushing knees out and butt back as in a box squat. Remember to try to keep as upright as possible and to keep the back tight, driving the head back and hips forward on the ascent. The bar will tend to pull you forward. These really work the abs, glutes, hams and BACK.
What is a kneeling squat?
Now, kneeling squats are pretty simple. You set the bar low in the cage, crawl under on your knees and take it out of the rack. Then you "squat". Try to touch your butt to the floor. Make sure you force the hips forward as you come up. I think louie recommends higher reps (6-10) on these so as not to kill the knees. Use a pad under your knees I usually "appropriate" one from the aerobics room !
What are Paul Dicks presses and Paul Dicks presses on the floor?
Paul Dicks Presses are normally performed
on a bench. Lower the bar ,under control, to the chest approximately 1-2"
above the nipples . Just as the bar touches the chest let the elbows roll
UP and BACK toward the face and the wrists fall back toward the throat.
This stops shoulder rotation and places most of the stress on the triceps.
Then press the bar up in a STRAIGHT line. The fists should lead. This is
pretty hard to picture.
What are 1/4 dips ?
These are dips performed with a box under the feet which limits the range of motion to the top 3-8 inches or so. These primarily hit the triceps and help with the lockout. Hold at the top and squeeze the tris. It helps to keep your head up and the torso as erect as possible.
On your close grip bench lockouts
how many set/reps did you perform ?
What are plate raises ?
Plate raises are just like front dumbbell raises except you use a plate held in both hands.
I just wanted
to ask about the implementation of two things I read of in Louie's old
columns in PL USA, namely board and floor press. Is the size of the board
varied? What general dimensions are good (length, width etc.)?
Yes, they use 2"x6" boards stacked one on top of the other. Two and three high. I believe you use two boards with a wide grip and three with a narrow grip. Louie covered this in the August 97 PLUSA. As far as the length goes just make it short enough so that it doesn't pinch your hands when you use a close grip. I learned this the hard way!!
Is the idea to do a contest pause, or touching on the floor press - I read that they do a narrow and a wider grip, but is the bar pressed as soon as the arms touch the floor, or is it paused?
Yes, pause these.
Should I pause the reps on my bench speed day?
No. These should be lowered quickly but under "control" and then lifted as fast as possible. No bouncing or otherwise cheating!
Should I do lots of crunches to build my abs?
No. The goal here is to build strong as. Weighted crunches are good as are weighted cable sit ups, leg raises, spread eagle weighted sit ups, reverse crunches. Louie also mentioned a type of Zercher sit up in which you sit on the edge of a bench holding a bar Zercher style and then bend forward as far as you can. This should really hit the abs as well as the low back. The main thing is to get your abs, obliques and low back as strong as possible.
I was doing a copy-cat Westside work-out for my max effort day but seemed to have lost some power off the bottom...I was probably missing something.
Power out of the bottom can be solved first off with a better bench shirt. Second the floor press is great for this. So is decline presses or high rep dumbbell presses (20). A cycle of 3 weeks of each should help. Increase your lat work. This plays a major role out of the bottom. Not pull downs but some kind of rowing motion (chest supported is best)
I don't get the chance to compete very often do you think I should max
out every 8 weeks?
I do this with a shirt?
Should I max
out (in the bench press) on the max effort day?
Any other suggestions
would be greatly appreciated!
What are some
goals for the floor press, illegal grip for 5 reps, board press, etc. for
a lifter striving to bench 550-600 in a meet.
Regarding pulling sleds or weights for assistance to the deadlift or squat? What are you using to figure out how much weight to pull?
It should not be too heavy. You will know if it is.
Are you pulling
in place of squat or deadlift or as assistance?
how many sets etc.? of course, I would like guidance within the framework
of the Westside program as this is what I follow?
1. Outside of the obvious friction reduction, what advantage(s) does a sled have over weight plates (when dragging, pulling, etc.)?
A:None except the wear and tear on the weight plate and strap.
* 2. Do you
feel the tendon/ligament strengthening effect of bench press lockouts is
more effective than floor or board presses?
* 3. Would
you characterize the performance of a J.M. press as the top half of a Paul
Dicks press, or is it different?
* 4. Why the
triceps pushdowns in lieu of barbell/dumbell movements?
* 5. Is it
advantageous to perform calf/ham/glute raises w/ a static hold at peak
* 6. Do you
personally get any results from the stability ball press w/dumbbells or
* 7. Do you
personally get any results from the nylon supported/hanging dumbbell/barbell
I have been using your methods for some time now and have made some great gains. However, a friend of mine suggested I compete in a heavier wieght class. Using the Westside workouts I seem to get stronger but my wieght stays the same. Do you have any suggestions on how I could
tailor my workout to increase muscle mass without straying to far from the original workout? Any advice would be appreciated.
Two things should be done. Try to incorporate some higher rep work on your assistance exercises and increase you daily calorie intake. Using Good mornings and low and high box squats for max effort work is also effective in increasing body weight.
For my tricep work, I've been cycling through barbell tri extensions, dumbell
tri ext and JM presses (2 weeks of each) on my bench speed day. On my bench
max effort day, I've been doing either incline or decline db presses. Do
you think this is ok or should I bag the db presses and go with more the
direct tri work?
* 2. I've been
using green bands on my bench speed day. Would maxing out with the bands
be a good max effort day exercise? (I haven't invested in chains
* 3. I thought
I read somewhere that Louie Simmons recommended doing one-legged squats...if
so could you give me some details (ie. max effort exercise, special exercise,
reps, sets, etc).
* 4. Including
warm-up, how long should my work-outs be? I currently run between 75 and
90 minutes, 4 times per week.
Box squats and all the lower back work has done great things for my lifts. The only problem I got is I'm very unstable and shaky coming out of the jack stands, but once I get set and take a deep breath I feel comfortable.
Take a breath and push out on your belt before you take the weight out of the racks. Hold your air until you are set up then take in a new breath of air and get retight. The reason you are shaky is because you are not tight to begin with. I have the same problem. My reason is because I get to excited before I squat so I forget to get tight. I had (and still have to) learn to focus my attention on the task at hand and not try to get so wound up.
Dave, On speed day I'm doing the 50-60% 10x2 on a low box for squats. On max effort day I'm doing triples up to a heavy single (up to 100+%) on a box slightly above parallel. I do the lower back exercises (good mornings, hypers, reverse hypers etc.) afterwards. I think maybe I need to do an additional squat type exercise on max effort day. All I have is a power rack and free weights to work with. My max squat is 485 in the 220 masters class. Would like to break 500 in the spring. What would be a good max effort squat routine for me? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
You need to get away from the squat on max effort day for awhile. Remember you should try to switch your max effort exercise every two to three weeks. Try good mornings, pin pulls, and good morning squats. Good luck and let me know.
Is it a must to max out on the box I use for box squatting?
Not really ,but it does give you of good idea of where you are. You will find your own carry over this way. For example if you squat 600 on the box and meet squat 700, then you have a 100 pound carry over. This carry over is almost always the same so if you then box squat 640 then you should still get the same 100 pound carry over.
Or is it enough
to train with the 50-60% of the meet max? If I max out on the box, should
I recalculate the % or stick with the 50-60%?
I believe my triceps strength (or lack thereof) is holding my bench press back (my PR is about 250 at a BW of 190). How can I tell if my triceps are weak relative to other muscles? For instance, I can barbell curl 90 pounds for at least six reps, but on lying triceps extensions, I can only handle about 75 pounds for six reps. Since the triceps are a larger muscle group than biceps, shouldn't I be able to use more weight for triceps extensions than curls?
Yes you should. How can you tell if your triceps are weak relative to other body parts? Well, you just told me they were. If you can't lock out barbells then your triceps are weak relative to other body parts. My tricep extension is around 300 to 350 for 3 and I can't curl 135 for one with out cheating. Just worry about if you power lifts are getting stronger because when all is said and done this is what really matters, and always work those triceps . Good luck.
I'm interested in developing my delts - hence I feel that I need to up my behind the neck press.
Why do you feel you need to bring up this exercise? The behind the neck press is very hard on the shoulder joint complex. It would be much better to do presses in front of the head or dumbbell presses.
To bring up your delts try upper body sled dragging or a special exercise from the university of washington. Grab a pair of weight plates (Try to start with 10,s) perform 20 front raises followed by 20 side raises followed by 20 bent over raises. Don't take any rest time between exercises.
for increasing my overhead power?
I have been doing rack lockouts on my max effort bench day. What process do you use when doing rack lockouts (warmups, pin settings, etc.). Thanks for your help.
We use all different pin settings and grips. Warms are mostly singles or triples. We have found that the board press and floor press work better than the pins. We haven't done pin presses for two years.
which day of your basic workout is it done?
question for Lat work.
ordered a sled from Louie. Considering that I am a beginner, how would
I work in the program with the sled?
I just bought a reverse hyper machine. By the time I get it delivered I will be 9 weeks out from a meet. I squat on sun, dl on Tues., and do lower back work on Thur.. when should I incorporate the reverse hypers into this routine?
4 times a week. 2 heavy for sets of 6 to 8 reps (best done on sq and dl days) and 2 light days 1 to 2 sets 15 (best done on bench days).
It says that on speed day, 20 out of 200 reps are to be done with greater than 55%. What does this mean? I am going to do 155 lbs. on my speed bench day (yeah, my bench kinda sucks) for 8 sets of 3. So, should I make one set per week at more weight? If so, how much more? Should I be trying to go for a 3RM here?
The 200 reps refer to the actual training weight. Since you do 8 sets of 3, this is 24 reps. Over a period of 8 weeks this is close to 200 reps. This means 20 reps out of 8 weeks should be over your training percent. This can be for 5 reps , 3 reps or 1 rep. If you work up to a weight after your sets , and you use 225, you may do 265x3, 285x3 and 305x3. This would be 9 reps over your training weight. If you choose you can work up with singles. You should work up on the days you feel good. You do not need to work up every workout and this is done on speed day. Remember to
never miss a weight, just work up.
With the box squat day I have trouble maintaining the 45 sec. rest period between sets when the weights get to 57.5- 60.0% of contest max. Is the time factor or weight factor more important for box squatting?
Both. When you get to the last week of you wave you should increase the time to 60 seconds. If this is still to hard then you are out of shape. Matt Dimel used to do his sets with 700 pounds on a 10 inch box with 45 to 60 seconds without any real problems. We have a new guy in our guy. He is about 350 all muscle. His first workout (425 with a triple looped blue band) he could barely make it through his sets. He was having problems with cramping and fatigue before he even started his sets. He ended his workout after 6 or 7 sets and stayed on the floor for around 30 minutes. We knew his problem was that his was very unfit.
Louie had him break his training into two workouts. He was to do his main exercise in the morning then come back latter and do his reverse hypers and abs. He also had him dragging every day. After four weeks he now is using 545 with a triple looped blue band along with a double looped green band. After his sets he does reverse hypers and abs. This is a long way in four weeks. We feel he should be able to squat 975 in February. When Louie wrote about GPP work, this is the kind of
results he was talking about. We believe that every athlete can benefit from GPP work.
During your unload week when you do Dumbbell or bar work for reps. 1) Do you do your speed work during that week also?
Yes, we do the dumbbell presses on the max effort day. We try to do 3 sets of 20 reps with about five minutes rest between sets. After this we will do some tricep and shoulder work.
the rep work replace the max effort work for that day?
4) For a sticking
point in the middle portion of your bench, what is the best work to eliminate
5) What are
some suggestions to increase strength in the middle part of your back for
Is a zercher squat a replacement for front squats?
It is another special exercise to be used on max effort day. It is not as good as the front squat. The front squat is a great exercise because of the arch you have to keep through out the movement. The zercher squat in my opinion is a waist of time. First off you can't use any kind of weight because your arms fail before you ever tax yourself. Second you have to be
very flexible to get under the bar. Third, I have never seen it make a difference in any one. Forth, it is the easy way out. I say this because compared to other exercises such as low box squats and good mornings it really is no workout. The seated Zercher squat is a great exercise for the
abs. This is best done not as a max effort exercise but as a set and rep exercise. We will do multiple sets of around 5 or ten reps.
pause squats with some great success, but once my body adapted, the progress
stopped. Can I cycle box squats with pause squats or should I focus on
I am giving the 3x3 workout by Stephan Korte a try. Being new to "pure" powerlifting, I would appreciate your opinion of this system. I am definitely making gains, but I am wondering if the lack of assistance exercises is going to hurt me in the long run. Do I need to add exercises
to have a more " well rounded" strength or am I going through withdrawals from the bad advice of people who are more concerned with bodybuilding?
You asked me about a specific training program from powerlifting usa. I just read it and this is my opinion.
I am a little confused about the max effort day, I thought you only maxed out every 8 weeks , but someone told me that you try a new max on a given exercise every max day........ Could you help me with this?
You only max out every eight weeks on your main exercises (squat, bench press). On one day each week, for each lift, you max out on what we call a special max effort exercise. For the squat this exercise can be some kind of good morning, deadlift, or a low or high box squat. We also do these exercises with a wide variety of different bars (cambered, safety squat, buffalo, etc.) and will some times use jump stretch bands or chains. For the bench the max effort exercises could be the board press, floor press, pin press, close grip inclines, decline press, band press, etc. This day is
separate from our training of the squat and bench.