||By: Dave Tate, CSCS
Since my introduction to
the Internet three years ago I have read many things about Westside Barbell
Club. Many have been good and many not so good. This is the beauty of the
Internet, you can get an unbiased account of any topic you chose. The problem
how ever is many of the bad things are based on uneducated information
about the training principles. I like to call these opinions myths. Webster’s
defines a Myth as any fictitious story, or unscientific account, theory
or belief. This article is to address some of these myths to further
educate testosterone readers to the Westside system of training. These
myths range form the recruitment of lifters, genetics, science, drug free
lifters, extreme drug use, hidden information, the list goes on and on.
Before I begin I want to make it known that Louie Simmons or Westside Barbell
created none of these principles. They all come form Russian books and
manuals on Olympic lifting. For a complete listing contact my company Elite
Myth #1: Recruiting of Lifters.
Many believe that Westside Barbell is so successful
because Louie recruits all his lifters. There have only been four lifters
to coming to Westside who had already achieved their elite status in the
sport of power lifting. These lifters include Tom Waddle, Mike Ruggerio,
Angelo Berardinelli, and myself. All of these lifters have put over 200
pounds on their total since coming to Westside after being stuck with their
previous totals for between three and five years. These lifters are not
included among the 47 elite lifters to come through Westside Barbell. To
make it on this list you must have achieved your Elite status at Westside
Barbell club. This same rule applies to all the Westside Barbell Lists.
These lists include:
Squats: 23 (800lbs) 6(900lbs) 1 (1000lbs)
Bench Press: 36(500lbs) 8(600lbs) 1(700lbs)
Dead lifts: 4(800lbs)
Totals: 21(2000lb) 5(2200) 1(2300)
These numbers, as mentioned above, are only from
the lifters that train at the original 20X40 Westside Barbell Club in Columbus,
Ohio. By the way, what is more difficult to do? Increase the strength of
a novice power lifter or increasing the strength of an elite lifter who
has been stuck for over four years?
Myth #2 Westside has genetically suited lifters
for power lifting
This is another one of my favorites not just for
Westside but also for all sports and life in general. Why is it when someone
is successful at what they do it is because of superior genetics or luck?
The next time you go to a local powerlifting meet look around and count
how many genetic gifted lifters there are (if there is such a thing). Now
compare that to the genetically suited lifters at a national competition.
There are a very small number of them at each level. So why are all the
other guys there? Persistence and hard work. They refused to quit when
all others fell by the way side and they have a strong belief in them selves.
There are a large number non-gifted in every sport and I will venture to
say they outnumber the gifted athletes. The other side of this issue is
how did Columbus get so luckily as to have all the genetically gifted lifters
over every other city in the country, taken one step further, Westside
Barbell over the past 30 years may have had close to 100 lifters (members),
so how did we get so lucky compared to the gyms who have thousands of lifters
through their doors every year? Genetic talent is never a reason why or
a reason why not! Regardless of any situation.
Myth #3: The methods behind Westside Barbell
are not scientifically sound
The methods we use are explained in many books
on training including “Super training” (Siff and Verkhoshansky), “Science
and Practice of Strength Training” (Zatsiorsky) and many other textbooks
and manuals from the former soviet union. The problem in the country is
that people are reading the wrong information. For review the major
methods we use are:
1. The Maximal Effort Method: This
method is defined as lifting maximal and supra maximal weights for one
to three reps and is considered superior for the increase in both intramuscularly
and intermuscular coordination. This is because the central nervous system
will only adapt to the load placed upon them. It has also been proven that
weights over 90% elicit the greatest gain in strength but will quickly
lead to over training state within one to three weeks with the same movement.
The is because of the great demand placed on the neuromuscular system with
this type of training.
We devote two day of the week for this type of training.
One for the Squat and one for the bench press. This schedual is followed
all year long. The reason we do not have problems with overtraining with
90% plus weights is because the movement is switched every one to three
weeks. The movements we choice are called “special exercises” and are designed
for maximum strengh output both the squat and dead lift.
2. The Repetition Method: This
method can be defined as lifting a non-maximal weight to failure; it is
during this fatigue state when the muscles develop the maximal possible
force. Because of this it is only the final lifts that are important because
of the fatigue state. This type of training has a greater influence on
muscle metabolism and hypertrophy when compare to the other methods.
We use this method in a conjugant “coupling fashion”
intermixed in with the other training days. Any supplemental or accessory
movement using this method must be changed after three to six workouts
using the exercise. This is to avoid the over training state as described
3. The Dynamic Effort Method: This
method of training involves lifting non maximal weight with the greatest
possible speed. This method of training is not used for the development
of maximal strength but only to improve the rate of force development and
explosive strength. Angel Sassov during his trip to the USA mentioned weights
50 to 70% are best for developing explosive power.
We devote two days a week to this type of training
for the bench press and one for the box squat.
All these methods are coupled together “conjugated
periodisation” This type of periodisation is different then the western
method that is very over practiced in the United States today. As many
of you remember the western method consists of a Hypertrophy Phase, Basic
Strength Phase. Power Phase, Peak Phase and a Transitional Phase. These
phases are all independent of each other meaning that you first complete
the Hypertrophy Phase then move on to the Strength Phase and so on. This
is the type of periodiastion we do not practice or believe in. We have
found it better to maintain all the strength abilities throughout the year.
This again is accomplished by the conjugated periodisation method. The
other type of periodisation we pratice is cybernetic periodisation. This
simply means you have to listen to your body and make adjustment when needed.
With the western method if you are programmed to lift 90% for 2 sets of
3 and have a bad day or do not feel well ten you are screwed with no alternative
but to miss the workout and try to catch back up the next week or to try
the weight and hope for the best. With our style of training on the dynamic
method days, bar speed or concentric tempo is what determines the load.
If the bar slow down then you reduce the weight. We do use percents as
a guide on this day, but he bar speed still is the determining factor.
On the max effort days a bad day will only equate to a lower max effort.
This really does not matter because it is the straining with maximal loads
we are looking for not the actual weight lifted.
Myth #4: Westside training will not work for
drug free lifters
It must be a sign that just after I typed the
last statement I received a call from Bartett Eastman of Auburn, Alabama.
After some time on the phone with him discussing training theory and methods
I discovered that he is a drug free power lifter that up until 18 months
ago trained using the standard approach to power lifting. The western method
as discussed above. This training lead him to many missed peaks and terrible
constant elbow pain. His lifts were stuck at a 450 squat, 300 bench and
a 530 dead lift for over a year. He switched to using the Westside methods
utilizing the max effort, dynamic effort and repetition methods. After
14 months training this way his lifts went up to a 600 squat, 400 bench
and a 610 dead lift. His 50-year young father also made the switch after
being stuck as well and went up from lifts of 400 squat, 200 bench, and
450 dead lift to new records of 475 squat, 250 bench, and 500 dead lift.
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks. Did I mention they are both
drug free? I asked Barrett what advise he would give to other drug free
lifters. He told me do not change a thing about the program. He has seen
it not work when they try to add in extra rest days, increase supplementary
volume, not box squat, and doing to many heavy sets. He also suggested
learning about the system first by reading the articles then get he videos.
The videos helped him tie everything together by reinforcing the proper
execution of some of the special exercises such as a JM Press, Board Press,
Carpet Press, Good Morning Squat,ect.
Keep in mind workload is determined by the absolute
strength of the lifter. Will an 800-pound drug free lifter be able to handle
the same workload as an 800-pound squatter who uses drugs? Why not? The
problem lies with the 400-pound squatter doing the same workload as the
800-pound squatter. Most drug free lifters fall in this category. If you
are training drug free it is very important to know your strength and stay
within your training workload.
Myth #5 The Westside system will not work, it
just does not make sense
This one comes mainly from other strength coaches
and personal trainers. There are only a couple things I want to mention
about strength coaches and personal trainers. There are very small percentage
of coaches and trainers who really do a good job and I respect them greatly.
There is much to learn from these people because they are pioneers in the
field, always trying new things and testing them out. Many of them also
display strength themselves. Education is very important but if you teach
strength training you need a combination of both education and experience.
This experience comes for coaching a doing. There is a statement I like
to use called “The comprehension of strength potential”. What this means
is if you have a trainer or coach who can squat 400 pounds, ten to him
400 pounds is considered heavy. This compression of it being heavy will
transfer over to whatever client he or she is training because the coach
has no idea of what heavy is outside their level of comprehension. This
can be a limiting factor when training an athlete with great strength potential.
This is not always the case because there are a few coaches out there who
have many lifters stronger than they are but I often would if they could
be even stronger. The second point on this topic is you have no idea what
a certain weight feels like until you have done it. I have had the opportunity
to squat over 900 pounds and can say from experience that 400 – 500 – 600
– 700 – 800 – and 900 all felt very different. The technique in handle
the weight changes dramatically the bigger the weight gets. The great thing
about Westside is the fact that there is always somebody who has lifted
the weight you want to lift and they can help you get ready for it. This
could mean let the bar settle longer before you descend the squat of bring
the bar down faster and lower toward you belly with the bench. In short
the reason they say it does not work is because they have no idea what
absolute and maximal strength training is all about.
These are just few of many Myths about the methods
behind the madness of Westside Barbell. I will agree that Westside is about
creating Myths, but under a different definition. A myth is also defined
the same as legends, and these principles have created many legends both
overseas and here in the USA. Until next time train hard and believe
Dave Tate CSCS
Elite Fitness Systems
1695 Itawmaba Trail
London, Ohio 43140
Dave has been in the strength training and consulting
field since 1986 and has trained and studied under Louie Simmons of Westside
Barbell club for since 1991. Dave has achieved his Elite Status in four
weight classes and has posted personal best lifts of 935 squats, 585 bench
press, 740 dead lift and a 2205 total. He is also the founder and president
of Elite Fitness Systems.
Elite Fitness Systems provides many training videos,
books and equipment related to the development of maximal and absolute
strength development. Dave also conducts seminars related to the Westside
methods throughout the country. Call for more information.