Westside/Louie Simmons Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which flex bands do you use on speed day for bench and for squat.  How do you know how much resistance the bands offer.  And finally how long do the  bands last before they lose their elasticity and become ineffective.  Thanks for your help.
A: We mostly use the blue bands double or single looped around the bar. I would suggest a single or double looped blue band for everybody unless you squat under 400 then a double looped green band. The tension of the band depends on the height of the individual because there will be more tension. We have weighted the blue band in the mono lift on a 12 setting (the barbell would rest about chest level on me and I am 5,11) and it was around 135 pounds. This was before we double or triple looped it. I am not sure how much the other bands are or how much more each loop adds. Jump stretch says the blue bands are 100 pounds, green bands are 75 pounds and the pink 50 pounds. There numbers have to be based on a maximum stretch. We have not found the elasticity to become less effective over time. You will want to inspect the bands before each use for tears. We have had some break.

Q: Is it too much work to do progressive resistance bench presses after speed day or max effort day in order to keep your size up and stay strong on the bottom part of the bench (raw lifter). And if so which day would you add it too and would it be better to do it before or after speed or max effort exercises. Thanx for your time.
A: If you are to do this I would suggest one set of 3 to 5 reps at the end of your speed bench day. Try to increase this weight each week. We have had some people do this with. I really don't think it will help. If you are drug free it will be too much because what you are doing is two bench workouts. If you feel you need this type of training then cycle in wide grip bench press for max sets of five or six reps on the max effort day for a few weeks then move on to another exercise like the floor press.

Q: Today I did Bent Over Goodmornings with bent legs. It was my first time doing them for heavy triples.
My question is how safe is this exercise, and how safe is it when done without a belt?. I did my sets without a belt because it felt like the belt would crack my ribs. I don't think it is too tight but it is a moderately stiff belt. Would a more supple belt be best or is it ok to do these with no belt? Bent Good mornings really do seem great for the deadlift but they kind of worried me mentally. Is it possible to round your back too much when doing these?
A: When you do your good mornings with a belt make sure to push your abs against the belt as hard as you can. You should also bring in as much air as possible and keep it in until you get back up. You should never go past parallel on this exercise. Most of us try not to use a belt on any exercise unless we have to. As long as you stay tight and don't go too low you will be okay.

Q: I was wondering should the 50- 60% be adjusted if you're lifting off a raw max?
A: The percent thing is just an estimate. It is all based on bar speed. The bar should always move as fast as it does with 50% of your max be it raw or not.

Also, should you squat off a lower box as you take your stance out wider, since parallel seems to be lower with an extra wide stance? ...not that doing all my sets from one height has seemed to cause depth problems in a meet with a wide stance. And do you have any advice on choosing your stances during a Friday workout?
We used to do that and it really didn't seem to help. We make everybody squat wide in training and stay with that stance. When I go to a meet I have to move my stance in or I will not go deep enough.

By the way thanks for the all the advice. I'm setting big P.R.s on low box squats and kneeling squats and I think it probably improved my total  about 50 pounds. .....especially my lock out strength in the deadlift. What is your opinion on speed deadlifting? i think I'm built to deadlift but I don't want to sap any energy before max effort work.
See how it goes with out first.

Q: I just read where you guys cycle off as soon as you do not achieve a personal record.  You mentioned this could be as soon as 1 workout, for most it is 4 and usually by 6 workouts this occurs for everyone. This makes absolute sense. However, I have all this useless info that I am carrying around in my head from the 70's that says one's cycles should last at least 3 months.

A: I assume you are referring to a specific type of periodization where you start with a high volume and low intensity and drop to a low volume and high intensity before a contest. This way of training works well for some but I commonly hear lifters say they tripled more than they did in the meet during training. This is one problem with this type of training "missing a peak". Another problem is that is based on percentages. Lets assume that you squat 600 in a meet, then you enter the "active rest" (this is where you do nothing except light training and other sports) phase of two weeks. After this you start with usually around 50% for some sets of 8 or 10 for a few weeks. This is where the problem starts. Can you still squat 600 after doing nothing for two weeks? Research tells us you can lose up to 20% of your strength in two weeks. Lets assume you can still squat 550 but base the
work out on 50% of 600. The in reality you are lifting 54% not much of a difference (but it equals he difference between 300 and 275) To make a long story short what happens later on when the weights reach 85% for triples, you are really trying over 90% and end up missing weights or over training. 
This over training will lead to missed peaks, bad workouts, and bad meets. The true strength work takes place with 1-3 reps, usually performed only for 4 to 5 weeks on this type of program. So you are really only building strength for 5 out of 12 to 15 weeks. Why? You can build strength every week with devoting specific workouts to max effort training. To avoid the over training you need to limit the number of time you perform a specific exercise (note: if you can no longer lift more in that exercise then why continue anyway) There are three way to develop muscle tension:
1. Lifting maximal weights for 1 to 3 reps
2. Lifting sub maximal weights until failure
3. Lifting sub maximal weights at higher speeds.

The above method of training only uses one of these methods (number 1) and only for a short time. The rest of the time is to condition you for the maximal weights. Are you not conditioned for maximal weights after a meet? So they why do you need to get conditioned again. It is possible to train with maximal weights and stay conditioned at the same time. We have been doing it for years.

I used to train with the old style of periodization for 10 years and got up to a total of 1890 at 242. I stayed there for four years. Then I moved to Columbus and five years later a total of 2180.

Another note of this type of periodization. It is only one model out of many and was never intended to be the end all of training. Mel Siff writes of this in his book Super Training.

In the eighties I accepted shortening to 2 weeks and now my gut tells me you are totally right to say 1 workout - 6.
You really lost me here. 1 To 6 workouts is around two weeks.

But it sounds like heresy. So please give me a push over the cliff so I can abandon my "laws". Need more info.
Do you want specific sources of information? I think this may be posted at Deepsquatter's site. I hope this helps. If not, let me know.

Q: In recent articles Lou talks a lot about J.M. presses.  I haven't heard him say too much about Paul Dicks presses lately.  Do you still do them?   On the floor?  On a bench?  In Lou's first bench press video, he demonstrated a version of the Paul Dicks press in a power rack with a cambered bar.  He said that it was that exercise that made his arms strong. Do you ever do this triceps exercise anymore?
A: No , this is one exercise that Louie wishes he never told people about. The J.M. press is much better. You can do the J.M. press on the floor, bench, etc.

QUESTION: I have been wanting to add reverse hypers into my routine for  some time now, however, the gym I train at does not have a reverse hyper  machine.  Can you suggest a way to do these without using the machine?
 We do have a prone hyper bench (not sure if this the correct term) and I  do some lower back work with these.  Also, concerning good mornings, I  understand that there are several variations of these.  Which variation
> would you consider the best (seated, standing arched back, standing  rounded back).  Finally, with the rounded back good mornings, does this  really mean that the lower back is to be rounded?  This seems to me like  it would put a lot of pressure on the spine.  Or am I just picturing  this wrong?
I don't feel there is any substitute to the reverse hyper machine. Your feet have to be pulled under you to about head level for the movement to really be effective. I would suggest Pull Throughs if you don't have a reverse
hyper. As far as good morninings go, I feel the cambered bar good morning is the most effective. This is a new style of bar that louie invented for us in the gym. This is a bent bar that rests on your back the same as a barbell
except just past your deltoids the bar bends down to around waiste level.  You grab the bar by your hips while it rests on your upperback. This brings a whole new level to the good morning movement. Since nobody but us has the ability to perform this movement, I would have to say the standard good morning has to be the best. We perform good mornings about 75% of all max effort workouts sticking with either standing arch backed or rounded back good mornings. We don't do the seated good morning very often. This movements put a tremendous amount of pressure on the disks and sould be use with caution. The lower back is held without an arch in the rounded back goodmorning so it isn't truly rounded, just not arched.

QUESTION: 1) Concerning assistance work, you do upper back & lats 3-4 times a week now when doing this do you do the same exercise 3-4 times a week or for each time you work upper back & lats you do a different exercise and when they all stop working, or one of them, you switch one/all???

Training lats 3 to 4 times a week is nothing more than one exercise each training day. This is not a lat workout you might find in a muscle mag. In may just be pulling on a jump stretch band or doing a series of holds at
different positions. Or it may be pulldowns, or chest supported rows. The exercise are generally rotated. I personally don't like to use the same movement for more than 4 to 5 workouts.


It is hard to predict strength lose while dropping weight. Some people like Jerry O and George Halbert got stronger by dropping one or two weight classes. While others like myself lose all kinds of leverages when i drop
weight. I can only say go by feel. John knows our system very well and has made great gains with it not to mention being great person to be around.  Have him watch your bar speed and make adjustments if you have to. I am sure you will beat all your old PR's. I still can never figure out why people want to get smaller so they can lift smaller weights.I have always liked the idea of getting bigger to lift bigger weights. Oh well each to there own and
good luck. Don't tell John the good things I said about him, it may go to his head.

QUESTION: Dave,    I have been hearing alot of guys talk about high rep "super squats" lately?  What is this
  program  all about? and can it be used to build up my squat strength?   Thanks for your help,

I assume you mean squatting for sets of 20 reps. This is an easy question to answere. If I had to do a workout with someone who trained under this principle and had to do a  sets of 20 reps with a moderate weight I would probably puke then pass out from lack of O2. Then after being on the floor for 30 minutes puke again. But if you were to test us both on a max, I would destroy him. Years ago there was a squat off between Fred hatfield and Tom Platz. Platz could do many more reps with 315 (or 405, I forget) than Hatfield. When it came to max time Hatfield was the Victor (I think by over 100 pounds). 

High reps are working on the repitetion method. This is defined as lifting a non-maximal load to failure. The most important repetitions here are the last few where the muscles are in a fatigued state. This is because it is the final reps that activate the largest number of motor units. As the tension in one motor unit drops, more and more join in the work. It is important to utilize long rest periods because of this reason. If we use this method, we like
to use around five minutes of rest between sets.  We mostly use this method for supplemental exercises such as dumbell presses, glute ham raises, shoulder raises, ect.because it is excellent for muscle hypertrophy.  The repetition method will produce the most gains in maximal strength because of increased muscle diameter. However, this type of training does nothing to stimulate the recruitment of fast twitch muscle fibers.  Also, a
large volume of weight is hard to apply to most lifters because the reps are performed in a fatigued state, which leads to bad lifting form. This is why we never use it for the main lifts. The two best methods for increasing muscle tension are: 

1. The Maximal Effort Method: This is defined as lifting a maximal load for 1-3 reps, and is the highest force that can be performed by the muscular system. This is and should be an all out effort. This method will improve neuromuscular coordination by increased motor unit recruiting, increased rate coding, and motor unit synchronization. Many coaches view this as being the best method for both intra-muscular and inter-muscular coordination, because the muscles and the central nervous system adapt only to the load placed upon them. 
The maximal effort method does not utilize psychological preparation, in other words you should not psyche up before the set, this will only bring about emotional fatigue. Save the psyche for the meet when you really need it. Training with the max effort method more than twice a week should be avoided because it will impair muscular coordination as well as increase defensive inhibition. 

3. The Dynamic Effort Method: This is defined as lifting sub-maximal weights with the highest attainable speed. It is used to increase the rate of force development and explosive strength. With this method, we utilize multiple sets with lower reps and lift the weights with compensatory acceleration. This means that if you can squat 800 pounds and are training with 400, you should be applying 800 pounds of effort to the barbell. Rest periods
should be no longer than one minute. 

QUESTION: Dave, I have a question that I have not seen addressed in any  of the Westside writings.  When do you guys use your belt?  I was under  the impression that to build superior back strength that you avoid using
 the belt until you have to.  However, I see repeated reference to  "pushing your abs" against the belt in the performance of box squats on  speed day.  Given that box squats on speed day are at submaximal weight,
 why the reference to a belt?  If the answer is to get used to pushing  your abs against your belt in the performance of the squat, then when do  you recommend using a belt on auxillary excercises such as good
 mornings, etc.  And, how about for deadlifts?  As always, thanks for  your insights.

Our goal is to try to never use a belt except for bench presses, deadlifts and squats. This is so we learn to use it properly in a situation simular to competetion. On all other exercises including max effort work  the belt is
used seldome or never. The reason for this is to strengthen the abs and lowerback. We also use no equipment in training except a lose suit on suit day. This is so we learn to push back against it.

I always get a grin out of those lifters who critize Westside for the equipment they think we use. I would like to see them preform over a 500 pound good morning without a belt or suit. Almost every lifter in our gym can do this for a triple.

QUESTION: Does or has westside had any drug-free lifters? If so, did  they excel as much as others? Did louie have to alter the way they  trained?
Yes we have had and do have drug free lifters. I plan on writting a series of recomendations for the drug free Westsider soon. Until then just try doing what we do. Every drug free lifter who sends me questions
is doing much more than any enhanced lifter does.Why is this? What would cause someone to think they need to do more than someone who has extra help with recovery?

QUESTION: Dave,   I have had great resuls using Louie's system. The training took me from  a PR bench of 465 to a 500 in about 4 month time frame.  I appreciate  this web page even though I consider myself a beliver it helps clear any  questions someone might have.  I am looking at training for a couple of  raw meets this year. Would a raw lifter or bencher using Louie's system  need to train any different or use different core exercises?
Your training history has answered your question already. Your bench just went up 35 pounds in four months!

 QUESTION: I recently purchased your bench press workout tape, and I wondered if  you had any suggestions for training the bench on max effort day at home  alone. I have a safety bench with safety pins so I am able to do any  type of rack training .(I have done lockouts with 600lbs, bench press off  pins 6 inches off my chest with 400 and floor press with 350)  I do floor presses with two bodyshapeing steps under each barbell plate.  I adjust the height so my triceps are touching the floor. I wondered if  I was getting the full effect of the exercise doing it this way.

 I weigh 180 lbs and I think I have a real shot at breaking the drug free  world record, I would appreciate it if you could set up a program I  could do safely at home on my max effort day.

It sounds like you are on the right track. The floor press, board Press, Close grip incline, and dumbbell presses are staples in our training. You may also want to try some max effort decline work. Your floor press really
seems like nothing more than a pin press on the floor. Try to rig up some way to perform a bench press on the floor. Our rack has low enough pin settings so we can do this. You may have to drill some holes in your power
rack.  If you are training alone make sure to use the safety pins when ever possible so you do not get the bar stuck on your chest or worse yet your head.

QUESTION: I do my box squats with a wide stance and with my feet pointing straight ahead and my form is good. But when I do a max with suit and wraps my knees tend to move forward. Should I turn my feet out a little on my max attempts?

I am not to sure about what you mean by move forward. Do you knees shift forward or does your torso shift forward. I don't feel either problem is because of you feet. If your knees are shifting forward then your hips and
hamstrings are weak and you are trying to use your quads to compensate.  If it is your torso that is falling forward then it is your abs and upper back that need more attention. The only time I would say move your toes out  is if your knees are coming in. The other problem could be the suit you are using. Some brands tend to throw you forward and force your knees in while others push you back and force your knees out. It also could be that your straps are too tight. Also you need to wrap your knees in a figure 8 pattern pulling the wraps outward so it is forcing your knees out.

QUESTION: What is your routine during the week of the meet?  I know it used to be the same except for Friday, but has this changed?

Pre meet schedule: (two weeks out)

Monday: max effort squat and deadlift day. I will always try to do some kind of good morning exercise and a lot of abs and reverse hypers. This day is not cut back on at all 
Wednesday: max effort bench day. I like do dumbbell presses or close grip incline press on this day. I also will do reverse hypers and abs this day 
Friday: speed squat day. This is when I like to start cutting back.  I will  use what ever weight I used for the first week of my last mini cycle. I still do reverse hypers and abs.
Sunday: Speed bench day. I do the same work out as the rest of the year.
Monday: Light good mornings, reverse hypers and abs
Wednesday: If I do any thing it is some light tricep work with light lats
Friday: nothing
Sunday: meet day
Monday: back in the gym for reverse hypers, lats and abs
Wenesday: By this time I should be back on track for a max effort bench day

QUESTION: After reading your article on Westside Basics I was trying to get hold of the books you spoke of.  I have had no trouble getting hold of most of the books but two of them I have not been able to find.  The first
one is Supertraining by Siff and Verkhoshansky.  The web address you listed is no longer valid (Strengthcoach.com).  The second is Science of Sports Training by Thomas Kurz.  Again the web address in invalid.  If you could let me know where I can purchase these two books I would greatly appreciate it.  Thanks

I think you can get them both at amazon.com  and Human Kinetics. If not try Perform Better at 1-800-556-7464

Hey Dave.

Had a question about the bands.  Used the blue bands to day for speed and went up to 245 for my last four triples.  I noticed that, though my speed was good, everything was coming back a little bit, not over the
face, just coming back a couple of inches.  When I tried to drive it to my feet on a close grip set, my speed came way down, and I actually got stuck on my last rep for a second, right at the top.  This never happens with the chains.  Im pressing about 420-440 now without a shirt, and was wondering if the slight change in angle of the lift is okay in training with the bands on speed day.  I also should mention that I am over 6
foot tall and my arms are longer than most of the guys I bench with.  I would Imagine that while they are getting 140 or 150 extra pounds with the bands, I am getting far more for those last couple of inches.

   The close grip is harder for you because the bar travels farther than on the other grips. This will create more band tension. You should always try to push toward your feet. Using the blue band to bench with is to much. We use the pink or green at the most. I like to use the size smaller than the pink and put chains on with it.

QUESTION: My friend and I have made a sled that looks just like westsides. We have been pulling it 150 ft forwards then he pulls it back the 150ft. Then we pull it backwards the same way,using 150lbs including
the sled,while doing this.After this we pull 150lbs sideways 150ft one way then he pulls back then we pull the other way.After this we add another 105lbs and pull 150ft forwards,then him,then I pull it backwards,then him.We usually do this 2 times a week. What I am wanting to know if we should be pulling longer dist. or using more or less weight.We really need all the advise we can get so our squats and deadlifts will keep going up.  Thank you!

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding of the sled work as well as GPP work. This training is supplemental to your weight training and should complement it. It is not about trying to kill your self with a lot of weight or long distances. It is about restoration. Siff defines this as carefully periodised programmes to optimize the balance between training stresses and natural recuperative processes. For more information on this topic, check
out his book supertraining. This usually is done with low intensity cyclical activities. We use the sled for this purpose. The weight being pulled is never really more than180 pounds for a heavy man. Most of the dragging is
around ankles with 25 - 70 pounds or upper body work with the same weight. This work can be done after each workout and on off days.

QUESTION: Mr. Tate: To clarify a previous question: why the (seemingly) sudden interest in triceps pushdowns as an assistance exercise? Would not various extensions w/ barbells/dumbbells or the previously recommended 1/4 dips, etc. work just as well or better in regards to increasing triceps strength....just what is the advantage to the pushdowns?

Almost all our tricep work is an extension type of movement. When and if we do push downs it is as a super set with the extensions or as a second tricep exercise. I have found by doing pushdowns I can minimize any elbow pain that I sometimes get from squatting


Dave,I forgot I had one more question. Do you ever seem to lose your squat groove when doing only box squats in training?  Thanks for the advice. 
 My groove is about the same with a box or without. We do have some lifters who look terriable on the box, then go to a meet a look great.  I am sending my definition of what a proper box squat should look like.

Box Squat: The benefits of this exercise are numerous. They develop eccentric and concentric power by breaking the eccentric concentric chain.
Box squats are a form of overload and isolation. The box squat is the best way to teach proper form on the squat because it is easy to sit way back while pushing your knees out. To take the bar out of the rack, the hands must be evenly placed on the bar. Secure the bar on the back where it feel the most comfortable. To lift the bar out of the rack, one must push evenly with the legs, arch the back, push your ABS out against the belt, and lift the chest up while driving the head back. A high chest will ensure the bar rests as far back as possible. Slide one foot back then the other, to assume a position to squat. Set your feet up in a wide stance position. Point your toes straight ahead or slightly outward. Also keep your elbows pulled under the bar. 
       When one is ready for the decent, make sure to keep the same arched back position. Pull your shoulders together and push your ABS out. To begin the descent push your hips back first. As you sit back push your knees out to the sides to ensure maximum hip involvement. Once one reaches the box, you need to sit on the box and release the hip flexors. Keep the back arched and
abs pushed out while driving your knees out to the side.. To begin the ascent, push out on the belt, arch the back as much as possible, and drive the head, chest, and shoulders to the rear. If you push with the leg first, your buttocks will raise first, forcing the bar over the knees, as in a good morning, causing stress to the lower back and knees and diminishing the power of the squat.

Dave, I am using your advice about the max effort day for the squat. Been doing the heavy good mornings suspended by chains instead of  heavy max box squats. My back feels much stronger. But I had 2 questions
concerning the speed day for the squat. Today I was at 60% on the squat, did 10 sets of 2 on the box(figuring on a 500 lb max). My bar speed on the sets is very fast and easy.I have Louis' new squat video and I notice that my bar speed is much faster than those on the video. I realize bands and chains were used in the video and I know this makes a difference but should I increase my percent to say 65-70% at the top if my bar speed remains
constant?  Maybe my max is more than I think it is. I ordered some of the  green jump bands. Should I use the same percentages when using these? Thanks for the advice. 

Bar speed is the most important factor on the speed day.  If you can maintain bar speed and use 20 or 30 more pounds, then by all means increase the weight. When you get the bands I would suggest just putting them on over top your training weight and see what happens. You may be stronger than you think. Try to enter a meet or take a heavy single on the box to get an idea where you are.

What causes hernias exactly and what can be done to prevent them?

A hernia is a protrusion of an organ or tissue through a weak area in the muscle. This tissue is usually implied to mean intestine.  In a hiatal hernia the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm into the cheat. This is usually
cause by a weakness that you are born with. As far as prevention, I'm not sure.  If it is believed to be congenital, then there isn't much you can do about it, but I am sure that strength training and ab work are great ways to
possibly prevent this. If you have any other questions about this, or you think you may have one, then you should see a doctor.

Should incline situps be done straight legged? and are sit ups hanging by your legs( like Rocky did on Rocky IV) good?

I feel any ab work is good. I also think since the hip flexors and abdominal work together as a unit then they should be trained that way.  If you have back pain when doing straight legged work the find another exercise until
you get stronger. The best ab work for a power lifter is any work done in a standing position. Two of these exercises are listed below.

Cable Side Bends: This exercise is designed to isolate the side obliques. To perform this exercise, set up just like you would the pull down abs.  Turn to the side so your right side is facing the lat pull machine. Step away from
the machine so there is tension on the cable. Perform a side oblique crunch (or side bend). Repeat the process on the left side.

Pull Down Abs: Begin by placing a rope or leather tricep handle on the lat pulldown machine. face away from the machine and grab the rope behind your head with both hands. Perform the movement in the same motion as a deadlift. Start by pushing your abs out then tighten them as hard as you can.  Bend over at the waist until your torso goes below parallel to the floor. Reverse the motion in the same manner.

Do You ever do board presses and can you bench alot more than you can 2 board press with pinkey figer on powerring if you don't do them do you know about any body that does?

Most the time my competition bench is high than any max effort lift (board press, floor press, ect) This is probably due to the bench shirt.

One of my buddies that lifts with no bench shirt recently did floor presses with pinkeys on rings and got 230, he paused good at the bottom too.  When he maxed he only got 225 and failed with 235.  I thought this was weird when I benched 260 back in the day I could only floor press 230.  What are your thoughts on this?I use a shirt is that the difference?

Your buddy has bad bench press technique.  He is probably staying tighter on the floor press then he is on the bench press.

The bench press should be performed with the shoulder blades pulled together and driven into the bench. The elbows should be in a tucked position. The bar should hit you in the lower chest area. The bar must be pushed in a
straight line, not back over the face.

Can you pretty much tell how much your going to bench after you finish up your last excercise you like to do before your max out?

Are flat close grip bench ever done on max day anymore?

We do this sometimes with the use of a lot of chains. To give you an example, I think my best is 275 with 7 chains a side.

What percentage of your max squat should you expect to lift with kneeling squats? Zercher squats? front squats?

It really doesn't matter. These are max effort exercises, which mean max out on them. I will say if you can Zercher squat more than your max squat then you have some terrible squat form. The front squat will also be lower than your squat.  Kneeling squats will probably be more. 

I have recently switched from conventional deadlift to sumo style, this switch has caused my knees to ache constantly.  Do you think this is due to poor technique?  Shoud I switch back?

 With the sumo style deadlift make sure to Use a moderate stance and a close hand grip.  To start the lift, you will rock into the bar, and the hips come up fast toward the bar.  This requires a strong back because the legs lock out long before the bar is completely locked.  The most common style is with the feet very wide, out to the plates.  The lifter should not lower the hips any more than necessary.  The back must be arched to the extreme.  Most important is to push your feet out to the sides, not down. Why? By pushing down with a sumo or wide stance, your knees will come together, which is the most common mistake in the sumo.  By pushing the knees out forcefully, the hips will come toward the bar fast making for a favorable leverage, placing most of the work on the hips, legs, and glutes. 
TIPS:  Don't stay down too long.  It will destroy the stretch reflex.

I recently read an "interview" with Louie Simmons in this  internet magazine called Testosterone. In it, Louie supposedly  says that he has done steroids for the past 28 years, among  other things. I am wondering if this was
a genuine interview  It does not affect my belief in the training methods used at  Westside, I am just curious.

This article was conducted by Louie and Reviewed by Louie.. He feels it is about time people start telling the truth about drug use and quit trying to ask like it is not a factor in our sport. I tend to agree with him and wish
people would start to be more honest about it, at least with themselves. Then maybe we could have true drug free meets instead of having lifters who use drugs saying they don't.  Our sport has non drug tested federations for
those who wish to use so why don't they lift in them? 

What is a J.M. Press? Please explain for me. Thank You
Two types of JM presses we use:

JM Press: This exercise is like a close grip bench press mixed with a tricep extension. Start the exercise the same way you would a close grip bench press except lower the bar direction to your upper chest, about half way
down rotate the bar back toward your head about two inches then press it back up.

JM Press with Towel: This exercise is the same as the JM press except you will use a rolled up towel ( the towel should be around 6 inches thick). Bring the bar down to the towel, then roll back toward your head about 2
inches with the bar still on the towel, then press back up. 

How do you do JM presses off the floor?

Same as on a bench. We set the bar up in our power rack so we can unrack the weight the same as a bench press. Here are two type of JM presses we use.

I am a 15 year old powerlifter who specializes in the bench press.  My bench went up over the last year and a half steadily with the occasional plateau.  The plateaus would only last for a week or so, the longest being a month.  My problem is I got up to 350 and stalled out for the last two months.  I thought I might be overtraining, So I took time off... still have the same problem.  The trouble is when I pause at the chest the weight seems
extremely heavy and its very hard to get it off the chest.  I used to be able to force the weight off my chest with ease and power it through the sticking point.  Some one recomended benching with chains.  Would this help
my problem at the bottom of the lift? how much would the chains cost?  What do you recommend for my problem?  Thanks a lot for your time.

The chains would help because it will cause you to push more explosively off your chest. Chains will run you around $150, you can get them at Toppers in Columbus , Ohio. You can also try low pin presses with the barbell 1 to 2 inches off your chest. Dumbbell flat press may also help. 

 I just got the new bench press workout tape in the mail, it's great. However, I have a few questions: 
1) How many days apart should I space the two training days for the bench?

* 72 hours

 2) I injured my shoulder recently, how should I get started with my bench training when I get the OK from my doctor? (I will be geting an MRI soon to determine if there is any soft tissue damage),

* yes, you may however need to start at a lower percentage until your should gets better
 3) My weakness is at the midpoint- What can I do to power through my sticking point (I do not currently wear a bench shirt)?
4) Louie's bench system seems to be geared toward the bencher who wears a bench shirt. He has his benchers do a lot of tricep work to focus on the lockout (where the bench shirt leaves off). Should my emphasis be on other exercises to increase my strength at the bottom which would give me more speed to blast through my
sticking point in the middle? Thanks for the help.

Use the board presses with different grip each time you do them. Stick with the board press for 3 to 4 weeks then switch to floor presses with a close grip for 3 to 4 weeks

 I talked to lou around 5 weeks ago and I told him my bench wasn't going up and I needed help. He said I wasn't doing enough tricep work and that he does at least 10 sets before he feels good. I have been doing 10 sets of the same excersize on speed and max day untill I don't go up. Is that ok to do , or should I be doing 2 different
excersizes?Also I was told that he does chest,triceps,lats,biceps,and shoulders on the same day.HOW do you do this in a hour to two hours time?

Keep in mind that louie has been doing this for a long time and is pretty beat up most the time. When he says 10 sets until he feels good, it means this is when he is warmed up. If you are not beat up then 10 sets may be to
many. One or two exercise is enough for triceps. Pick an extension movement for 5 to 6 sets then finish with 3 or 4 sets of pushdowns. We fit it all in a hour because it is not bodybuilding workout. We may do only one exercise
for each body part you listed.

A sample week is listed below:

 (max effort bench day)
Close Grip Incline Press:  warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel
that you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to
one and continuing working up to a one rep max
1/4 Dips: 5 sets 5 reps
Rope Push Downs: 3 sets 10 reps
One Arm Dumbbell Press: 3 sets 12 reps
Reverse Hypers: 2 sets 15 reps

 (dynamic effort bench day)
Bench Press: 10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM; use three different grips ;
(45 to 60 sec rest between sets)
Dumbbell Tricep Extensions on the Floor: 5 sets 10 reps
One Arm Reverse Pushdowns: 3 sets 10 reps
Rear Delt Raises: 3 sets 10 reps
Reverse Hypers: 2 sets 15 reps

I just got a stability ball for Christmas, and what I was wondering is what type of exercises can I do on it.  How can I maximize its potential.  I know that you can do dumbell presses on it, but how much weight should I use.  I also know that I can do sit ups on it also.  Thanks for any suggestions you may offer.  Your web site is the most informative. Just love it.  Thanks.

Stability ball exercises

Dumbbell presses
Any type of side delt press
Any type of front delt raise
Shoulder presses
Tricep extensions with barbell or dumbbell
Sit ups

You can do just about any exercise you want with the ball.  Try to be  creative. When you ask how much weight, I don't know how strong you are so I can't tell ya.

You mentioned that one could improve his Squat/Deadlift rapidly by training his Abs "heavy" 3-4 times a week. What exactly do you mean by heavy? What exercises would one use and in what set/rep range? Thank you.

Here is a list of some of the exercise I used before I squatted 900. I trained my abs two time a day six days a week. The first workout was weighted movements and the second was non weighted.
Cable Side Bends: This exercise is designed to isolate the side obliques. To perform this exercise, set up just like you would the pull down abs. Turn to the side so your right side is facing the lat pull machine. Step away from
the machine so there is tension on the cable. Perform a side oblique crunch (or side bend). Repeat the process on the left side.

Hanging Leg Raises: Grab on to a chin up bar so you are in a hanging position. try to pull your knees up to your chest. When your knees pass 90 degrees roll your hips upward so you are trying to bring your pubic bone and
sternum closer together. Don't let your body swing. Lower your legs in a controlled fashion. For many this will be very hard on your shoulders as well as very hard to do. There are vertical leg raises benches you can use
as well as straps that go under your arms to make the movement more comfortable. If these don't work, try doing the same motion on the ground or across a flat bench.

Incline Sit Ups (Roman Chair): Sit on a Roman Chain bench with your feet in the support. Tighten your ABS and lower to a 70 degree angle, pause for two second the return keeping your abs tight. You may need to hold a dumbbell for added resistance.

Rainbows: This exercise is designed to isolate the obliques. To begin this movement lay on your back  with your hands over your head holding onto a heavy object. Pull both knees toward your chest in a tucked position.
Keeping this tucked position, roll your knees to the left side until they touch the floor then rotate back to the center, then to the right. You must keep your shoulder blades on the floor. To increase the difficulty perform
the movement with your leg raised in a 90 degree angle.

Straight Leg Raises: This exercise is intended to strengthen the abdominal and hip flexor muscles. lay on your back on a flat bench or lay on the floor. Keep your arms out to your side or hold onto the rack. Raise your
legs to a 90 degree angle. Press your lower back into the bench as hard as possible. Lower your legs until you feel your back start to arch. At this point raise the legs back to the starting position. Every body will not be able to go all the way down at first, just go as low as you can before your back arches. If you try to force it too soon you may injure yourself

Pull Down Abs: Begin by placing a rope or leather tricep handle on the lat pulldown machine. face away from the machine and grab the rope behind your head with both hands. Perform the movement in the same motion as a deadlift.  Start by pushing your abs out then tighten them as hard as you can. Bend over at the waist until your torso goes below parallel to the floor. Reverse the motion in the same manner.

Change up sets and reps, sometimes going for 5 reps with extra weight and other time for 20 or 30.

Is it a bad idea to enter meets every 8 weeks since you have to stop heavy lifting a week out? It seems like that would add up to alot of time off.

It depends on your experience. I fell an elite lifter should  only compete about 2 or 3 times a year where any body else should compete as much as possible.

 What is the best way to test maxes in the gym? I have experience squatting 8 sets of 2 with 82.5% and then attempting just 90% of my max after a couple minutes of rest and missing it. Should an occasional Friday or
Sunday workout be dedicated just to taking a max?

Both ways. 20 out of 200 lifts should be above 90% on speed day. Taking a day to test yourself (about every 8 to 12 weeks) is a good way to find out how your training is going.

I used the reverse hyperextension exercise machine to help  my squat and deadlift for two 8 week cycles during 1998.   I did reverse hypers twice a week after squat and deadlift  cycling up to 50kg for 8 reps, 4 sets per workout. I didnt > increase my competition squat or deadlift but my hamstring  strength and size increased.  I weigh 82kg and can squat  260kg and deadlift 275kg. Can you suggest a suitable hyper  program. Many thanks, 

Train the reverse hyper 4 times a week.
Day 1: heavy for 4 or 5 sets of 6 {try to go as heavy as possible}
Day2: light for 2 sets of 15 with 50% of day one weight
Day3: same as one
Day 4: same as 2

Day 1 and day 4 should be lowerbody training days, day 2 and 4 upperbody days.

The powerliftstyle squat (holding the bar as low as possible on the back) gives me a lot af shoulder and elbow problems(bench en shoulder workouts within 3 days after squatting).  What can I do to prevent this in my pre-meet training?  thank you.

Move your hands out and try using elbow wraps when you squat.

On my squat volume day, Louie says to use a weight around 60% of your max squat.  I'm confused -- is it 60% of your best competition squat, or 60% of your best box squat?

 Before I got chains, the bar would fly off my shoulders about four inches at the top of my box squats.  But I'm wondering if the bar weight is too light, because even when I used 80 pounds of chains, the bar still lifted
off my shoulders an inch or two at the top of my box squat.  Is this normal? How do I know I have the optimal weight?

This is another one of those percent questions. The percent is just a range to try to work within. It sounds to me like you need to increase the weight. Does the bar move just as fast off the box? If so increase the weight, if
not increase the chain weight. You also need to stay tighter at the top. Make sure to keep your shoulder blades pulled together. The bar should never come off your back no matter how light the weight is if you stay tight.

 I have a few questions regarding bench training.  What assistance exercises should I do on the speed benching day?   Also, what exercises should I do on the max effort day.  I know I should concentrate on training the weak points of my bench.  Should I do different assistance exercises on each day?  How many exercises should I do on those days? How many total sets of assistance work should I do on each day? Please let me know a list of exercise I can do on each day.  Thank you.

Read the past Q and A postings and all other westside articles (matts article, workout log, my training recommendations, Louie articles) on strength online. I feel most your questions will be answered there. After
that if you have any questions let me know. 

I noticed on your training log that you never did any shrugs. Do you think that shrugs are generally unnecessary to do?  What about trap work in general?  Thanks.

I have never found shrugs to really help with anything. We do a lot of upper back work with the use of a pull down machine (face pulls). I also find the sled work to be very beneficial for the upper back and traps. When I think
of traps, I think of shoulders and upper back since many of these exercises target the traps in some way. Listed below are some of the exercises we cycle in our mini-cycles.

Face Pulls: This exercise is designed to work the muscles of the upper back and posterior deltoids with the use of a Lat Pull down machine and a straight bar. Stand in front of the pull down machine with your hands spaced
on the bar wider than shoulder width. Stand back and pull the bar to your face while keeping your elbows flared out. Try to contract the muscles of your upper back for a couple seconds before returning to the starting

Front - Side - Rear Delt Combo Raise: This is a combo exercise designed to hit all heads of the shoulders. For this workout you will use two weight plates. Grab them through the holes, so you have one in each hand. Perform
20 reps of the front raise, then without rest perform 20 reps of the side raise, then again without rest bend over and perform 20 reps of the bent raise.

Rear Dumbbell Raises: This is a very basic exercise designed to target the posterior deltoids. To perform this exercise grab two dumbbells, bend at the waist keeping the knees slightly bent and the back flat. Your arms will be hanging straight down from your upper chest. Turn your hands so your palms are facing your feet. Your thumbs should be facing each other.  Raise the dumbbell in a arced direction so your hands end up being slightly above shoulder level. The weights must be raised directly out to the sides for this movement to be done effectively. You can do this from a standing or seated position.  We use this exercise to help balance the shoulder complex.  The rear delts and external rotators are needed to help stabilize the joint especially will the great number of pressing exercises  you will be doing.

Seated Dumbbell Cleans: This exercise is designed to isolate the posterior deltoids and upper back. To begin grab a pair of dumbbells and sit on the edge of a bench. Start the movement by pulling your shoulder blades up and
back while at the same time cleaning the dumbbells up to a 90% flexion of the elbows.

I am 23 yrs old and would really like to get into powerlifting.  I beleive I have the genetics and dedication to become  competitive. Do you have powerlifting program that I could  start out with to get the ball rolling?  I live in Fargo > N.D. and dont know anyone here who powerlifts.

check strength online for the sample training journal. It should be coming out soon (note: it is in this Month's issue)

 I just received my Flex Bands and have seen an immediate  increase in explosiveness after using them for five or six  sets.  My only concern is that when setting up for benching  the only place I can connect the bands is on the bottom  crossbar, directly below where the weight is racked.  This  way the bar is being pulled slightly backward, though not  enough even for me to feel.  Do you think this will cause  any problems?  Do the bands have to be perfectly straight  up and down?

I have found a way to use the bands with some of the clients I have that don't have a power rack. Strap them around a heavy dumbbell on the floor then around the bar. If you strap them around the bench then the bands will be pulling you more back instead of down.

I am a raw powerlifter that trains at home in my basement. I have the following equipment: squat rack with a pullup bar, flat/incline bench that fits in the rack, dumbells, cinderblocks, 2x6 boards for board presses, and a home made pulling sled made out of an old tire and rim.  I use the cinder blocks to raise the bench for reverse hypers and chest supported rows.  I would like to invest about another 150-200$ in the gym if it is necessary.  My question is what , if anything, should I look at purchasing buffalo bar, trap bar, bands, chains, high low lat pulley machine, safety squats bar,  or save my money and get nothing else thanks .

To keep within your price range, I would have to say the bands.  Get the platform and band set up. With this set up you get a variety of bands plus a platform. Have them send you the weight training video as well. 


The key to any program is to find where you are weak and correct it. Since I do not know this I would suggest dropping the Olympic lifts for six weeks and work on the muscles that perform the lifts. If you make these muscles stronger then you lifts will go up. We have done this with a couple Olympic lifters with great success.

What would be your strategy for a sumo deadlfter leading up to a meet that is ten weeks away.  what are the best special exercises for the sumo?

We train the sumo deadlifter and conventional deadlifter the same way. First I would say check your form. Listed below is a description of the sumo deadlift :

Sumo Style Deadlift: Use a moderate stance and a close hand grip.  To start the lift, you will rock into the bar, and the hips come up fast toward the bar.  This requires a strong back because the legs lock out long before the bar is completely locked.  The most common style is with the feet very wide, out to the plates.  The lifter should not lower the hips any more than necessary.  The back must be arched to the extreme.  Most important is to push your feet out to the sides, not down.  Why? By pushing down with a sumo or wide stance, your knees will come together, which is the most common mistake in the sumo.  By pushing the knees out forcefully, the hips will
come toward the bar fast making for a favorable leverage, placing most of the work on the hips, legs, and glutes. 

TIPS:  Don't stay down too long. It will destroy the stretch reflex.

Use the good morning and good morning squat as max effort exercises. One or two weeks on each then go to some kind of low box squat.

Good Morning: This is one of the most popular max effort squat exercises at Westside Barbell Club. This exercise is performed in one way or another 40% of all max effort workouts. This is because it works the posterior chain
like no other exercise. Done properly, this exercise will work everything between your traps to your calves. Begin this exercise by unracking a barbell the same as you would a squat. Set up so your feet so they are
slightly wider than shoulder width. Get into a tight position (arched back, shoulder blades pulled together, knees slightly bent, abdominal pushed out against your belt). This is the starting position. Slowly bend forward at
the waist until your torso is slightly above parallel with the floor, then reveres the movement to return to the starting position.

Good Morning Squats: This is another great max effort exercise for the squat. This exercise is a combination of the good morning exercise and a squat. You begin this exercise by unracking a barbell the same as you would
a squat. Set up so your feet so they are slightly wider than shoulder width. Get into a tight position (arched back, shoulder blades pulled together, knees slightly bent, abdominal pushed out against your belt). This is the
starting position. Slowly bend forward at the waist until your torso is slightly above parallel with the floor, then squat down into a rock bottom position then stand back up to the starting position.

The last three weeks perform partial deadlifts with a moderate weight (I use 275 to 315) for 2 sets of 20, after each squat speed and max effort day.  This does a great job of bringing up your posterior chain.

Partial Deadlifts: This exercise helped Matt Dimel increase his squat from the mid 800's to over 1000 pounds in a two year period. To perform this exercise grab a barbell with an over hand grip about shoulder width apart.
Pull the bar up to a standing position. At this point arch your back and get you abs tight. Keep the back as arched as possible, push the glutes out, and keep the knees slightly bent. Lower the bar by pushing your body weight back unto your heals while pushing your glutes out. Try to lower the barbell to a position just past the knees. At this point you should feel a tremendous stretch in the glutes and hamstrings. Raise by contracting your glutes
first, at the top of the movement contract the glute as hard as possible. Perform the exercise in a ballistic fashion. You want to drop to the midpoint position and explode back to the starting position.

I just ordered a pulling sled and was wondering what an ample amount of resistance would be for someone with a 520 squat using a basic pulling technique? (sled attached to back belt, walking forward)

Two or three 45 pound plates

Dave, do you have tips on correcting uneven extension on the bench press?

Uneven extension can be because of many reasons, injury, muscle imbalance, arm length, etc. I would first see if one arm is longer then the other. If this is the case then move your grip out on the longer arm one or two
fingers. If it is muscle imbalance then start using move unilateral movements (dumbbells). If it is injury related see a doctor.

I just wanted to thank you for all the tips you gave me.  I've been doing alot of ab work like you said and the good mornings you said.  I haven't taken a squat heavier than 220 in the last month but tonight I did a 465 for
two on a box slightly above parallel and smoked it. That was the best I did on that box height by 60 pounds!  I just did lockouts for 1 with bar slightly above my knees for 2 weeks then seated good mornings for 3 with
chains now these box squats. I want to mention that the weight didn't feel heavy at all even after not handling any heavy squats for a month.  My back didn't hurt at all after tonight.  The only reason I didn't do more was
because after the second rep I almost fell backwards on the second rep. What can be done to help my balance? does it just have to be learned?  I feel that if I could have properly balanced myself I could have went well
into the 500's.  I've been doing alot of side bends for my obliques.  Do you recommend those?  I was also wandering about side deadlifts and whether you do them for reps or for a max effort excercise and which part of the bar you grab the end?  I think that my abs and lower back where the only thing holding me back.  My upper hamstrings and glutes were the only thing that got sore on me when I was done.
                    Thank alot I appreciate your advice,

Your balance problem can be addressed by including more "heavy ab work"  Try standing cable ab crunches and incline sit ups. The side bends are a good choice but why not try them using a cable machine. Put a rope or push down strap on a lat machine. Stand side ways to the machine Holding the strap behind your head. Do a side crunch and concentrate on pushing your abs out. Seated zearcher squats are also good for the abs. As far as a side deadlift for max effort, I would say stick with some type of good morning or low box
Great to hear about your progress. Good luck on the 500.

Once again  thanks for all your previous advise!       A few more questions... If you remember i am no longer a competitive powerlifter but a thrower (highland games).  Since i no longer max out with the main lifts with gear(eg at a contest)  what do I base my percents on for speed bench day (I am using chains now) and box squat day(speed) ?

base it on your max box squat and increase the percent by 5%

 if I need to max, how often?

Every eight to twelve weeks

 Should I max on the box or full squat with no gear to base percents on?  What about the bench?  How do I determine how much chain to use?

Just throw the chains on top of your training weight

You told me to increase my back and bicept work on any two days, any suggestions on exercis selection? For back i have only a pullup bar, powerrack, dumbells and barbells.  And why in your opinion is back and
bicep work important for throwing (just curious).

Not for the throwing exercises but the pulling and lifting exercises your described. Try reverse curls and hammer curls.

 Any suggestions for tricep work? Should I do extensions on inclines or overhead to better aid throwing or will the flat stuff suffice?

You will have to experiment here but keep it to some kind of extension work

For example I read an article In MILO by an olympic weightlifting coach that shotputters and olympic weight lifters should do JM presses on an incline bench instead of flat like powerlifters.

I would like to see how they would do a jm press on a incline bench. All an incline bench will do is take your lats out of the movement and shift more attention to the delts. If you do too much incline work you run the
possibility of creating a muscle imbalance in the shoulder complex.  Rotate between incline work and flat bench work

 You included goodmorning squats in my list of core exercise I should cycle... please give me a brief description of this exercise, I am not sure I am doing it right.

Here are two types of good mornings:
Good Morning: This is one of the most popular max effort squat exercises at Westside Barbell Club. This exercise is performed in one way or another 40% of all max effort workouts. This is because it works the posterior chain
like no other exercise. Done properly, this exercise will work everything between your traps to your calves. Begin this exercise by unracking a barbell the same as you would a squat. Set up so your feet so they are
slightly wider than shoulder width. Get into a tight position (arched back, shoulder blades pulled together, knees slightly bent, abdominal pushed out against your belt). This is the starting position. Slowly bend forward at
the waist until your torso is slightly above parallel with the floor, then reveres the movement to return to the starting position.

Good Morning Squats: This is another great max effort exercise for the squat. This exercise is a combination of the good morning exercise and a squat. You begin this exercise by unracking a barbell the same as you would
a squat. Set up so your feet so they are slightly wider than shoulder width. Get into a tight position (arched back, shoulder blades pulled together, knees slightly bent, abdominal pushed out against your belt). This is the
starting position. Slowly bend forward at the waist until your torso is slightly above parallel with the floor, then squat down into a rock bottom position then stand back up to the starting position.