First I would like to thank Dave Tate for your advise on my new denim shirt.
My question or questions are when and what sets do you put your shirt on.
I need to learn how to use it properly to get the most out of it.
Ireally want to bench alot. I can bench 445 with out a shirt,and
i hear about this 10% boost, and man if i could get 20lbs i would be happy.
Thats about two ?'s.
to a new shirt is almost a art form. If you are going to try to get used
to it ten try using it on some max effort days for the 2 board press, reverse
band press or chain press. I would only suggest using it for as long as
it takes to get used to it. Tis could range from one to three weeks if
the shirts fits right. If the shirt doesn't fit then send it back to be
altered and try it again.
QUESTION: hi,I'd like to know how you would integrate sprint training 2 times a week (in the off-season) with your kind of strength training . In track we are used to periodize our wheight training and our drills,but your aprroach doesn't seem to suggest it. Any suggestion ?Thanks for yourtime.
I would need
to know what you mean by sprint training. What distances, intensity, volume,
ect. This will have an effect on when it would be preformed. Any speed
work should always be preformed first in the training protocol. The best
way I have found to integrate speed field work is to put the running work
before any max effort work and after any speed squat and bench work work.
This way you keep the NS fresh for all the speed and dynamic training.
QUESTION: I find the glute/ham/gastroc apparatus hits my hamstrings better than any other exercise. I find it perfectly complements the reverse hyper, which hits me more in the glutes & lower back (short straps). I know that former Soviet super Pisarenko used to do 6's with 200lbs on that piece. What's been done at Westside? What set/rep/weight schemes, in relation to SQ/DL weights, have been successfully used? Has it been used on Max effort days?
Everybody is little different. Louie
likes to hold weights in front of him and has done 200 pounds for 6 reps.
I like to use bands around the back of my neck and have worked up to 6
reps with a green band. The reps without weights are around 15 to 20 and
with weights 6 to 8. We will do two to four workouts a week with one or
two without weights and one or two with weights. This is a very important
exercise for any sport. I am always amazed at the number of people who
can't do one rep with this exercise. Then they wonder why they can run
faster or lift more.
QUESTION: Dave, My Westside progress is great. I need your insight on my deadlift problem. I fail on the very bottom. If I can get it moving, I can lock it out.(fyi-565-400-495) The strange thing is my low box squat is going up fast(505). I work abs heavy 3 times a week. My arched good mornings are also quite good(495*3). What should I incorporate to assist me?
Add in Good Mornings. This is perhaps the best exercise for any power lifter or football player. If there is one constant among great strength athletes it is the Goodmorning.
Work on keeping your whole body tight
as you begin the lift. Think about flexing every muscle in your body and
push your feet through the floor.
QUESTION: Reguarding the max effort workouts, once you have identified an exercise that works really well at eliminating a weak-link... and you only do two max-effort workouts before changing to something different.... how many weeks before you can go back to that particular movement? I am mostly concerned with this in reguards to benchpress workouts, and my weak area is about 1 or 2 inches off my chest, decline wide-grips for reps seem to help the most at this time. Any input would be greatly appreciated!
Try to stay away from the movement
for at least four weeks. We have found through experience that this seems
to be the ideal time.
QUESTION: Hello Dave, about box squats, I have 3 boxes, 4 inches below parallel, 2 inches below parallel and 1 inch above parallel. How long do you recommend to stay on a particular box before moving on to another? Also
would you recommend to max out on each particular box in order to get your percentage you should be squatting with? Thanks a lot Dave
Use the same box for your speed squat
workouts all the time. This box should be one inch below. Use the other
boxes for max effort work such as safety bar squats, front squats, and
cambered bar squats.
QUESTION: I am a beginner and have just recently purchased a weight set, problem is thats all I have for the time being. Could you suggest somekind of Westside or other routine I could do with just a set of weights? Thanks for your time.
Stick to basic multijoint exercises
such as Squats, Bench Presses, Barbell Rows, Shoulder presses, ect. Build
a solid foundation for about 12 to 24 months first then start a Westside
Program. There a many beginner routines out there just choice one
a concentrate on perfecting the technique on each and every exercise you
QUESTION: I have recently resumed serious training. I have been competing in "raw" meets over the last 2 years. After 5 weeks of box squating (percent based on my last raw max) I did 425. Then I took few more attempts with a suit and knee wraps for a 485 max. I am considering doing a "gear" meet.
I have done 2 box squat work outs using 50 & 52.5% based on the 485, however the bar speed is much slower, compared to using the raw max (as I have done when training for raw meets). Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.
Are you training the box squat with
a suit and straps down? If not start doing so and you may find that the
bar speed picks up. The suit will allow you to sit back further and keep
you in a better grove.
QUESTION: I have been powerlifting for about 2 years. I'm 39 years old and workout by myself. My first contest was in August(BP/DL) and I hit 5 of 6 lifts. The only one I didn't hit was the last bench. I think I just overtrained on it, because I just felt weak and SLOW. I did a traditional powerlifting routine of going up in weight and down in reps each week until the contest.
I read all the articles by you and Louie Simmons and decided to give your methods a try(mainly because I was so slow on the bench). Since September I have been(hopefully) training the Westside way. I say hopefully becasue my bench is up 25 lbs w/o a shirt, my deadlift stayed the same and my squat has gone up 60 lbs!
My question revolves around my routine. I would like you to look at the following routine and let me know if I'm on the right track with your methods? Here it is:
Monday - speed Bench no shirt 10 sets x 3 reps @ 52.5% max week 1, 55% max week 2, 57.5% max week 3, 60% max week 4 then repeat.
Make sure to use three different grips all being closer than your meet grip. Eight sets is enough
Tuesday - max squat no suit rotate exercises every 3 weeks and max on triples or singles. Using Good Mornings; Eccentric squats; then Good Morinings; Good Morning squats; Good Mornings again; Heavy Box Squats then repeat.
Add in some pulling exercises about once every eight weeks. Deadlifting off mats or a 100 pound plate would be an excellent choice
Thursday - max bench no shirt rotate exercises every three weeks and max on triples or singles. Using DB presses incline, flat and decline; board presses; DB presses again; floor presses;DB presses again;incline close grip bench then repeat.
Friday - speed squat no suit 10 sets x 3 reps @ 52.5% max week 1, 55% max week 2, 57.5% max week 3, 60% max week 4 then repeat.
Assistance exercises - I do 4 sets of 10 reps for triceps, lats, delts and biceps every workout. I rotate different exercises each week and try to do more weight for that exercise than the previous week.
Abs - I do weighted crunhes, floor crunches, hanging knee ups and I devised a way to do reverse hyperextensions by putting a bench over another bench, tying weights to my ankles and then crawling up on the bench!
I live near Hershey, PA and there are no gyms that support powerlifting in my area(that I know of other than York Barbell, which is 1 hour from me). I don't have much in the way of equipment(squat rack, benches, straight bar, 800lbs of weight, lat machine, chains)and I have limited space. Any advice on what to get next to improve would be appreciated. I enjoy your articles and the Q&A section. Thanks.
It may be worth your while to drive down to York barbell every so often to take a workout. There is nothing better than having some experienced lifters pick apart you form and training. Mark Chailet and Marvin Teter are both great lifters and are always willing to lend a hand.
QUESTION: My partner and I just started power lifting in April and have made good gains since then. We just came off of an outstanding workout. We recently completed a regimin of chain routines that were started in August. On the 15th of this month we went without the chains and I deadlifted 415lbs (5X2) with relative ease, my partner lifted 455 (5X2) also easily. I then lifted 435 one time and my partner 475 once. We went into the gym 10/27/99 and neither of us could hardly move 415 off the floor. My question is why? Why did we go so far backwards after a 12 day rest? We have also had this problem on all of our lifts.
This can be due to a number of reasons.
I will guess and say your CNS is fried from all the heavy pulling you were
doing. 5 sets of 2 at the percent you were training at (close to 80 and
90 percent), is a killer workout. The workload is way to much to try and
come back and repeat. Some exercises are harder than others on the CNS
and the dead lift is one of the hardest. This is why we only perform it
on a limited basis throughout the year. The reason you have this problem
with all your lifts is because of the same above reasons. Try adding in
some restoration work (sled dragging, saunas, steam, contrast showers)
or take a week off. Look back on your training records and see where the
decline started, then go back a figure out why. After you do this then
learn from your mistake and don't do it again.
QUESTION: Hi. Sorry to bother you again, but I got a few more questions. The first one has to do with your comment about using a max effort exercise for 3 sets to failure every third minicycle. I am wondering what you consider a minicycle.
A mini cycle can range anywhere between 1 and 3 weeks with a given max effort exercise. This depends on how well you adapt to new movements. if you choose the floor press for example and end up with a 300 pound max on week one, 320 week 2 and miss 300 on week three, then you should of switched movements after two weeks "one mini cycle" For an advanced lifter this may only be one week for a novice lifter this can be as long as 4 to 5 weeks.
Also what would be some good exercises to use on this day.
I am assuming you are referring to
the bench press, good movements include:
question regards the 60% rule. I am wondering if I should be using this
rule for every exercise that I train the day before. For example, if I
do arch back good mornings and pulls throughs after I box squat, should
I come back and do both of those lifts the next day at 60% of the previous
No, it is best to use this rule with
only those movements or muscles you feel you need extra recover on. If
you try to do this for all movements you will become very over trained.
It is best used with sled work but if you want to try it with other exercises
then I would recommend no more than two
QUESTION: Dave, Identifying weak points for me is easier said than done. I can tell if my tri's are weak because I can't lock out the weight. Where would the weight get stuck if the shoulders were the weak link?
The bar would drift out of the grove. and you would have a hard time keeping your shoulder blades pulled together
Where would the weight get stuck if the back was the weak link?
The bar would drift toward your face and would feel very heavy on the way down. It would also get stuck right off your chest
Where would the weight get stuck if the chest was the weak link?
About two inches off you chest. It is usually never one thing but combination of many things. Many of the problems you write of can also be form related and bench shirt related. I hope this helps..
QUESTION: No Questions just wanted to thank you for the fast service through Elite Fitness. Also wanted to offer an exercise I have used recently with great success for benching. I follow a Westside BB program but because of work and kids I sometimes miss a day of lifting. To help I decided to do a little band work at home. Using a pink band held in front of my chest and pulling straight out to the sides until my hands are behind my shoulders for 8-10 reps I have been able to work my rear delts hard. It takes only one minute. After doing this once/twice a day every other day for two weeks my shirtless bench went from 375 to 405. It appears to have greatly helped stabilize my upper body for benching. I wiggle much less now than just a couple weeks back. This one might help others with loose shoulders. Again, thanks for the service.
Thanks for the info I will pass it along to the Q and A incase anybody else wants to try it out. I encourage anybody who finds something that works to send me an email and I will pass it along. Your solution could be somebody else's answer.
QUESTION: I currently squat in olympic weightlfting shoes as the heel helps me keep my form. I tried wrestling shoes a year and a half ago and couldn't make them work for me. Why do you recommend using shoes without a heel?
It is best to use shoes with out
a heel. The high heels tend to work your quads more than your hips. Your
hips are the stronger muscle so you need to learn how to sit back further
when you use the wrestling shoes. Before I
QUESTION: Dave, I was coming out of the hole on my 3rd squat at the IPA Nationals this past year when i heard something that sounded like a bar towel being ripped in half - only it wasn't a towel, it was an adductor. My gym has limited equipment related to powerlifting, and without access to a sled etc., I've always found it hard to train muscles not worked directly in the SQ/DL. The attitude of people in my area does not exactly cater to powerlifting anyhow (that's why they are small and weak and I am big and NASTY ha ha). My question is, what do you do for adductors/inner thighs aside from the sled work that I could do in the gym (picture a decent bodybuilding gym w/all the free weights, cables, etc., and a lot of pretty boys in spandex)? And believe it or not this gym is the best bet within a 50 mile radius so I'm going to have to figure out some way to rebuild it and train these weaker muscles for the next meet. Any ideas, or am I SOL? Thanks for any advice you can give...
You are never SOL in this sport.
Have you tried any adductor work at all yet? Some exercises to try would
be squeezing a stability ball between your knees and holding for a 4 or
5 second isometric contraction. If you are
QUESTION: 2 questions:
#1. where can i get information on the above mentioned training journal?
You can get the training Journal by Calling 888-854-8806
#2. i previously
submitted a question about the use of bench press weight releasers.
In case my question was lost, I'll ask again. What weight %'s, rep
& set scheme, should be used for weight releasers. Can you share
This depends on what you are trying to accomplish. It you are going for a maximal eccentrics effect then you want to have a total weight of 30% to 40% greater load then your best 1rm. So if you best bench was 300 then I would recommend a weight of 200 pounds with an additional load of 80 pound on each weight releaser. Lower he bar under control then when the weighs are released push the bar back up in a normal fashion. This known as a supramaximal method and should be used with caution because it carries an increased risk while using supramaximal weights. The eccentrics are also associated with great muscle soreness, so do not use the method too much. One workout a month would be the maximum.
The can also be used as a reactive
method where the load is released the followed with an explosive reactive
lift after the weights are released. For this method load the bar up with
50% of your max 1rm. Then load an
Thank you very much for your answers.
QUESTION: Dave-me and my partner are hitting a wall at 45deg,or about 3/4 of the way up in the squat.we are box squatting with bands,and working abs HEAVY. Both our squats are deep and erect.pleas help!
Train your hips. Try ultra wide sumo dead lifts and wide low box squats. It may also be you are not staying arched so add in some arch backed good mornings.
QUESTION: I need to know when doing jm presses do you keep your elbows close to you side so you are really doing a headbanger or do you let your elbows fly out so that you are really doing a regular benchpress just to your throat instead of you lower chest? also what are some good exercises to work the bottom of the bench? We use to touch our chest on speed bench but now we are stopping about 2 to 4 inches above and we really feel it in our shoulders and chest.
Think of the JM press as a close grip bench press toward upper chest with your elbows tucked in. You only lower about 1/2 way down to your chest then press back up.....
QUESTION: Thanks for all the great info, we all appreciate it! My question is in regards to my squat. I have been following the Westside methods for a year, and will hopefully pull over an over 500 dead before the end of the
year. This will be over an 80lb improvement from my last meet. Unfortunately, my squat does not seem to be following suit. I have no idea what my max is (I weigh 198) but if I had to speculate I would say it is WELL under 400. I already know I am very tight in the hips, and have trouble breaking parallel as it is. I just can't seem to build the right areas to get my lift up, and it is more difficult for me to figure out where my problems lie than in the dead or bench. I have a strong back, but my hips and hams may be lagging. Any ideas? Thanks again.
I will bet your form needs allot of improvement. Go back through some of the Q and A's about squat form and make sure yours is dead on. If you have any questions give me a call.
QUESTION: DAVE THANK YOU FOR YOU TIME ON THE PHONE. THE TIME THAT YOU AND LOUIE TAKE OUT TO TALK TO PEOPLE, IS VERY VALUABLE AND ALSO MAKES ME RESPECT YOU GUYS ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. I HAVE THE PRO MODEL REVERSEHYPER M. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW HOW OFTEN SHOULD I USE IT, AND AFTER WHICH EXERCISES ON MAX EFFORT AND DYNAMIC DAY. ALSO HOW MANY REPS AND SETS. SINCE MY FACILITY IS AT HOME, I HAVE ACCES TO IT ANY TIME. SHOULD I DO IT TWICE A DAY?
Use it after your max effort and
dynamic effort squat days for 4 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps. Push the weight
up a heavy as possible for about 3 to 4 weeks then back off of the weight
for another 3 to 4 weeks. By back off use
I ALSO ORDERED THE SWISS BALL, FOR WHAT EXERCISES EXACTLY, AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD I USE.
Swiss ball is great for abdominal
sit ups and crunches. You an do these as often as you like. It is also
good for dumbbell presses, dumbbell shoulder presses, triceps extensions
or what ever else you can think of. There is no
I RECEIVED YOUR "ELITE FITNESS REVIEW" IN THERE YOU TALK ABOUT MED-BALL TRAINING. IS IT WORTH GETTING, AND HOW CAN I GET DETAILED EXERCISES AND INSTRUCTIONS FOR IT.
The med balls can help your explosive power if used for the right exercises. We will provide you with any detailed information you like with any of our products. This is part of our company mission "to show you the best way to use our products and to sell only those products we feel work". I don't want any of my clients or customers wasting any time trying to figure out what we already have. Why should you have to make the same mistakes we have?
I ALSO HAVE A DRAGGING SLED THAT I ORDERED FROM PLUSA. HOW OFTEN SHOULD I USE IT (MAYBE ON TUESDAY AND THURSDAY) AND WHAT EXERCISES CAN I DO WITH IT.
If your sled has a chain attached
to it, throw it away. It defeats the purpose of many of the sled exercises!
Our sled is built for specific purposes and the other one I see advertised
is not designed to fulfill the same goals. If you have the other sled give
me a call and I will tell you what has to be done to alter it. If you bought
it from Louie before we took it over then you are okay. Sled programming
depends on many factors. I need
I ALSO MADE DURABLE SQUAT BOXES THAT RANGE FROM 14.5" (WHICH IS EXACTLY ONE INCH BELOW PARALLEL FOR ME) AND IT GOES ALL THE WAY DOWN TO 9.5" IN 1/2"INCREMENTS. YOU SAID USE THE ONE INCH BELOW PARALLES BOX ON DYNAMIC DAY(FIRDAY) ALWAYS. NOW ON MAXEFFORT DAY SHOULD I CHANGE HEIGHTS OF THEBOX SQUATS. AND HOW OFTEN, CONSIDERING THAT 75%OF MY MAXEFFORT DAY CORE EXERCISES IS THE GOOD MORNINGS.
Go down 3 to 4 inches below you squat box height. And do them the other 25% of the time. Use as many different bars as possible. For example: Safety squat bar, cambered Squat Bar, Font Squat Harness, ect
DAVE, I WOULD ALSO LIKE SOME MORE INFORMATION ON WHAT OTHER BOOKS TO BUY FROM YOUR COMPANY THAT I CAN IMPROVE MY KNOWLEDGE AND PERFORNCE. I ALREADY ORDERED THE SUPERTRAINING. ALSO DO YOU HAVE ANY TRAINING LOGS BASED ON YOUR SYSTEM SO I CAN KEEP TRACK OF MY EXERCISES AND WORKOUTS.
We are working on a very detailed one right now that will track every known parameter. Work load, volume, intensity, sets, reps, ect. These factor are calculated for every group of exercises we do. I hope to have this complete by March 2000.
DAVE THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR SUPPORT AGAIN. AND I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT I HAVE BECOME AND LOYAL CUSTOMER AND A FOLLOWER OF YOUR SERVICE.
Thanks for your loyalty, It great to know we are making a difference in your training.
QUESTION: Dave What do you guys do for a beginning squatter who cannot get to the parallel position? 1"-2" above it due to tightness in the hips and low back? His back starts to round if he goes lower than 1" above parallel thus risking injury.
Start them on a higher box. After a few sets lower the box some. When they get to the breaking point where there form is breaking up take them back to the higher box. Also, build their hips up and stretch their hip flexors.
I have this problem many times with new clients or people in my seminars. Most of the time it is form related and can be fixed within one workout or one seminar. If it can't be then it is for the reasons discussed already
QUESTION: I just ordered the "sled" and am wondering when best to employ it? I read your sample work-out (and others who are on the program) and haven't seen any information pertaining to the sled. Specifically, on what day is it used, what kind of weight should be used, how far should one pull it, and what form/technique is optimum? Thank you.
Check out the Q and A archives and
the next posted. I gave a great sample workout awhile back. To answer some
of your question. The sled is used in some manor everyday. The weight used
should not be too heavy. If it is too
QUESTION: I am just starting to do the WestSide bench workout. I don't quite understand the max effort day in regards to set and reps for the exercises (floor presses, rack lockouts etc...). Are they all done for a one rep max and how many sets. Do I only do one special bench exercise on this day as well.
The max effort work is best done
using sets of three reps working up in weight until you can no longer do
three reps (do not miss the third rep, stop doing threes when the weight
feel too heavy) then drop the reps to one.
QUESTION: This column is a great thing and thank you for taking the time to respond to it. I have been using the Westside system for about four months and have gotten good results. My question is concerning technique. First, when performing the squat I find that I dip forward or round my back a little when I first come up
from the bottom. I believe that this is from not keeping my abs tight enough or not utilizing my hips
properly.(I have started squating with a wide stance).
Keep your back arched so the barbell stays in line with your heels.
The second part of my question
is concerning the starting portion of my BP(Raw). It is slow coming off
Train your lats. Check the Q and
A when it is updated. I just answered this question.
I am a freshman football player(DT)/thrower at canisius college in Buffalo, NY. MY strength coach Paul Childress is a national powerlifter and an advocate of westside barbell system. I have made some slight variations to the program but it basically the same as the one he ha given us. The program has made me stronger (which i like) but i haven't gained any mass or shape.
You are lucky to have a coach like Paul. He knows what he is doing and is one of the few who practice what he preaches. He is very well versed on all methods of training and has put together a great strength training program. Not a bodybuilding program. His goal is to give you the ability to use all your skills at the highest level possible. Paul also knows the difference between power lifting and football training and is not training you guys as power lifters. If you would like to add more mass then talk to Paul about adjusting some of your variables. I am sure he will work with you because that is the mark of a great coach like Paul.
PS. At his size he has to know something
about mass development. Also have him look over your nutritional program.
If you feel like you are looking like shit then your diet could also be
the problem. I would be willing to
To put it bluntley
i am starting to look like shit! Now i know powerlifting isnt bodybuilding
but it isnt football or throwing either. Are there any suggestions you
could give me so i can gain some mass and some definition? i
QUESTION: DAVE- AFTER READING A COUPLE OF THE QUESTION AND ANSWER AND THE FAQ PAGES I READ THAT LOUIE HAS CAME UP WITH A CAMBERED GOOD MORNING BAR. I MADE MYSELF A GOOD MORNING BAR THAT REST ON MY BACK AND LETS THE WEIGHT HANG AT WAIST LEVEL. AFTER TRYING IT OUT I FOUND THAT I REALLY ENJOYED GOOD MORNINGS ALOT MORE THAN BEFORE. I ALSO READ IN THESE PAGES THAT MOST OF THE LIFTERS AT WS CAN DO 500+# FOR A TRIPLE MAX. WAS THIS TRIPLE MAX PERFORMED ON THE CAMBERED BAR OR ON A STRAIGHT BAR (JUST COMPARING NUMBERS)?
These numbers are done with a regular barbell.
I FOUND THAT THE CAMBERED BAR ALLOWS ME TO HANDLE ALOT MORE POUNDAGE.
With our bar we are all able to do
less weight because the upper back is taken out of the movement. It was
designed to make the movement more difficult. I think are bars are made
different because it would be a huge
I ALSO FOUND
THAT THE CAMBERED BAR PUTS MORE OF THE STRESS RIGHT IN THE LOWER BACK AREA
Great ideas, I will post them on the Q and A
QUESTION: I'm a drugfree raw bencher.I use to compete in the jr class where I did very well winning the 95 and 96 apf state 308 and super hvy class.I used a bench shirt and had a 525 bench. Then I had some small injuries that stopped me for awhile.Now after a 3 yr absence I'm back and full go.I just did a 450 bench with a nice pause
and we measured the distance of my push at about 5-6 inches so I still got the technique.But where my problem is, is in my blastoff I never really struggled here before cause of my shirt but now I want to compete raw and get my bench back over 500 and get close to 600 by next fall.I'm still familar with some the westside techniques I have one of your bench tapes somewhere.But my question is what should I do to maximize my bench in this weak area?
Heres my normal routine,I don't train legs on a regular basis cause I > have very bad knees and the pain is to much with the line of work i'm in.
MON-bench & tris
WED-Back & bis
FRI-Shoulders & Traps
boards presses and rack lock out altenating them bi weekly and max
bench about once every 6-8 weeks.Other than that I follow a pretty
basic routine basic power moves low reps high weight.My body weight is
First off, Pull out your bench
tape and view it again. There are many things you need to change about
your program and all of them are addressed in the video. I will help you
with a couple major changes. To begin with
QUESTION: 1.Should assistance exercises be trained heavy on both speed day and max effort day?
Very easy answer to this question. YES. The best way I have found is to do heavy triples for and extension movement like a JM Press or Carpet Press after the speed bench day, and perform heavy sets of 6 to 8 on the max effort day for Dumbbell Extensions, Chain Extensions, or Barbell Extensions
2.What type of speed work should be done for deadlifts?
The best speed work for the dead lift is to perform 6 to 8 singles with 50 to 60 percent after doing the speed squat workout. This is best done for two to three weeks with a one or two week break in-between.
3.I am a raw lifter and on the bench press the weight feels heavy and I'm having a hard time getting the weight off my chest, what can I do to correct these prblems?
some rowing into your training plan. Use the same grip as you bench with
and concentrate on using your lats not momentum to lift the weight. Also
keep your shoulder blades depressed throughout the movement to keep the
tension in the lats and out of the rear delts and traps. Start with Barbell
QUESTION: Hi Dave, Me and my workout partner have built a westside-style gym in his house and we now have the possibility to train as much as we want, so we want to add the sled pulling and restoration workouts(60% rule). My question is: how much of these workouts should we start out with and when should we raise it(more workouts,more weight etc.): I´m 19,bench 500, Squats 700. He´s 32, benches 500 , deadlifts 661. And, how much weight should we use for the sled pulling?
Not much..... Start with 135 for forward and backward dragging as the heaviest weight in the cycle. Keep the heaviest upper body weight at 70 pounds, and the heaviest ankle dragging weight at 45 pounds.
QUESTION: My question is in regard to the importance of power cleans. Football coaches talk about how this is the best lift for explosiveness. I am an assistant football coach, and have been working with the weightlifting program. I have been using the Westside program for about a month and everything seems to be going
good. I want to use this for the football workout program. Question is what role should cleans play. Do you think it is a necessary lift to do. I have ramble here, but if you get a chance give me your thoughts.
I don't personally think they are
important enough to make any real difference, but there are many football
strength coaches who disagree with me. My reasoning is hat I view the squat,
bench and dead lift as markers of
At Westside we specialize in maximal
strength training. We want to get ourselves and our lifters as strong as
possible and the power clean does not fit into this plan. At the same time
we also do not have to go out and play
This is just my opinion on the power
clean. As a strength coach it is your job to form your own. I can say that
the power clean is one of the most utilized movements in football today,
and there has to be a reason for it.
1. Because everybody does it, they
feel they must also do it
benching out of the pins result in a better gain of strength. Have you
ever heard of X-rep?
I have not heard of X-Rep. I have seen the bungee products on the market and we have had some sent to the gym. All of them I have seen are not even close the what the bands can do. The bands are by far the best way to train "Maximal eccentrics, Dynamic concentric". Keep in mind EFS or Westside Barbell don't receive a dime for jump stretch and have paid full price for every band we use. The reason we push these products so hard is because of the great progress we have seen from them in both our training and the training from other lifters across the country.
QUESTION: How can I use Louie's system, if I can only lift on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday? I also want to incorporate some Olympic lifting into the routine, any suggestions?
You would need to find another system.
Louie's system when combining in other aspects of training (olympic lifting,
speed trainiing, ect) requires more time then you can give to work effectly.
You will not have enough rest
it is great to hear of your progress
QUESTION: can you help. i need to know the percentages for circa maximal phase. they said the weight but not the percenages. no one on the strenght list is answering. if you could help it would be great thanks. i really like your articals when are you going to write more.
p.s when are you going to do a seminar in washington state (seattle,tacoma,olympia area) when you do, I AM THERE.
Don't get to caught up with percentages, It is the bar speed that counts. The barbell percentage does not change it is the band percent that changes. The top weight with barbell and bend tension will wav between 80 and 90 percent while the bottom percent will wav between 60 and 70 percent.
We are looking at setting up seminar all over the country. Nobody has contacted me about coming to the Seattle, washing state yet. If and when we set something up I will let you know by posting on the Q and A and with a personal email.
QUESTION: I am interested in learning more about the Westside Barbell training system. I was wondering which books or other such mediums you would recomend me to get to begin my studies. Your help is appreciated.
The best place to start would be Louie's articles in PLUSA and the articles posted by Louie or Myself on the Net. Do not pay to much attention to the other articles by any other author about the Westside system. I have read most of them and they do not have a clear understanding of what is really being done.
The second place to start would be the bench press video revised and the squat workout tape. These are the most recent and probably the most helpful. The last and probably best thing you could do is come to one of our seminars. For more information please feel free to contact me.
QUESTION: I am tall(6'5") and had a back surgery after squatting 540 in 1995. I was not very strong in my trunk then and this is what caused it i think. However now after not squatting full for 4 years i cannot get into a full power squat due to tight hips and back(rounding), however i can do narrow(2 feet wide) olypic and front squats. How do I get back into power squatting?
I will make
this short. Stretch out your Hip flexors and extensors, hamstrings and
glutes. Start with a high box that you can squat down to with a power stance
then lower it one inch at a time as your flexibility increases. Train you
core with varies types of abdominal exercises including varies hanging
leg raises and pull down abdominal movements. Train you lower back with
both arching and bending movements.
QUESTION: Dave, was just wondering if you were going to hold any seminars here in Tennessee. Thanks
I am in the process of working on something right now, but would like to be closer to Knoxville.
QUESTION: I have just completed 2 weeks of floor presses w/chains and 2 weeks of 2 board presses w/chains for my max effort bench day. I am scheduled for 2 weeks of ultra-wide benches for a 6 rep max beginning this week. However, I am now experiencing a significant amount of pain in the left pec tendon where it ties into the long head of the biceps(armpit area). What do you recommend in place of the ultra-wide benches? I am competing on soon and have been making steady gains so far. I do not want to miss these max effort bench workouts this close to the contest. Any advice you could offer will be greatly appreciated. Thanks Dave.
Don't worry about the wide grip stuff if you are having pec pain. Stick with the close grip board presses and get your pec back in shape with high rep bench presses with 30 to 40 percent for a few sets of 20 reps three to four times a week until it begins to feel better
QUESTION: What's up? I think I talk to you more than I talk to my girlfriend. I have a couple more questions for you.
1. I read Louie's article on circa-maximal training. I understand the rep schemes on the first two phases, but I'm unsure of the amount of reps
performed during the final phase. Would I still do 8 sets of 2 or would I use more singles?
Call me on this one. The are many factors that need to be discussed. If you screw up this phase you will be dead.
2. I live by the beach, I was wondering if pulling the sled in the sand would have a more profound effect or would it be overtraining?
Good question. I bet it would be great, but you would have to lower the weight.
3. In meets, I always seem to have a problem hitting depth in the squat. I train on a box that is about 2 inches below parallel, and about every third minicycle I'll take a low box squat(about 10 in., I'm 6'2) for a max. whenever the meet rolls around however, I'm always getting red lights. I don't train with any powerlifters, so I can't depend on any one else to correct my form, I have to do it by myself. Any suggestions would help out.
you are probably already breaking parallel. If this is not an option
try moving your stance in some and include flexibility work for your hip
QUESTION: I have some questions on training. One of my major concers is on the box squats I recently did 300 of a 13in. box. My problem is I also have this problem on the speed day is that my feet turn out when I try to come off the box, and i bend over to.
Please explain how your feet move out when you are on the box. If you are squatting there is pressure on your feet so they should never move, unless I am misunderstanding the movement.
I wear the chuck taylors. 13in is well below parralel I think i am 6"2'. I am also having a hard time on assistance exercises because we don't have a reverse hyper machine or a glute ham raise. Pull throughs are also hard because the stack only goes to 150. I usually do Front squats, and partial deadlifts. along with abs, and pull throughs, and back raises. Should i rotate assistance work on squats, and bench days every week, or change when I stops working.
A good rule to go by is use the same movement for about five workouts then switch the exercise or the loading pattern (sets, reps, weight)
I was also wondering about upper back and lat work how many exercises per training session, what rep range.
This is up to what you feel you need. The most I would ever recommend is two lat exercises one type of rowing and one type of pulling. Usually around 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps
I have one more week of good mornings to due, the arched back, I hit 315 last week. Should I wear a belt, or will I build more strength without it?
Wear the belt only for your top sets or not at all....
Thank you so much,
QUESTION: Back in May 99 while training for a bench contest I tore my left pec. I had already done the heavy stuff and was cooling down with 375x8 when pop it rolled up starting from the outside just below the shoulder. It did not tear it lose only a few stands. I went to a physical therapist for a few weeks after and they worked on it using a variety of deep massage electro stim. I'm now back in the gym but I'm not sure how to progress. I don't want go too fast, but by the same token I don't want to wuss out and not reach full potential. Right now its a serious mental block because I'm worried about tearing it again only worse. I'm sure this is a somewhat normal state of mind, but how much should I worry about tearing it again?
The first thing
is realizing that there is a mental block, now get rid of it. Study
some simple metal training techniques such as affirmations and
Will I ever see a 500 bench again?
I tore mine with a 500 bench and post surgery 585. Yes it is very possible but you still need to determine why it happened in the first place and learn from it. I have seen many lifter return from serious injury. It all depends on the training and the mental state of the lifter. If it was easy everybody would be doing it!
What are the chances for a full strength recovery? I've never taken steriods, but I was on creatine. Could that have contributed to the injury?
I doubt it,
most injuries are a result of over use.
QUESTION: where can i get a glute/ham machine that you describe and how much do they cost ?
We sell them and so does Westside barbell. The cost is $730.00 shipping included. Hatfield also has one on his site http://www.drsquat.com/
If I can be
of any assistance let me know. 888-854-8806
QUESTION: On an assistance exercise, such as tridcep extensions on a stability ball, the reps and sets call for 3 sets of 12 (for the sake of
example.) Am I trying to go to failure, or find a minimax, on all sets - repeated effort method or am I useing the submaximal effort method, where I use a submaximal weight and don't go to falure? I am venturing to guess that I should alternate between the two methods. If this is the case is one method better to use on one day rather than the other? i.e. submaximal effort method on dynamic day and repeated effort method on max effort day. I know I have quite a few questions but your hepl is greatly appreciated!
Finding a mini max is not important with repetition movements. Where you fail in a fatigued state under sub maximal loads means nothing to us as strength athletes. The question of failure or not is a great question as far as training goes. The training to failure has been shown to elicited great gain in muscle hypertrophy as well as gains in strength, but the recovery rate is also intended when compared to non fatigued training. We have found that the repetition method (failure) to work best when integrated in with sub maximal lifting not to failure. To be more specific training to failure with a repetition method) with a core exercise such as the squat, bench or dead lift will have a tremendous effect on your ability recovery so this type of training is very limited to only once every third of forth mini cycle, or better yet once every 4 to 5 weeks after your speed sets. This high rep work is only done with the bench press never the squat. This is once again because of the demanding effect it has on the neuromuscular system.
Using the repetition method for a supplemental movement (for us the second movement: either triceps or hamstrings) can be preformed more often but still in a limited fashion. Usually every five to six weeks. Most of the time these movements are done for sets of 5 to 8 and it is saly hard to perform another rep once set in complete.
For the accessories
movements, usually extra triceps, biceps, lats, deltoids, abs, or other
small isolated movements, you can go to failure more often. These small
movements d not require the same energy demand as the supplemental or core
movements so their demand on the CNS is less. In short, everything
is fine in moderation.......
QUESTION: Dave,I recieved the swiss ball and love it! I train mostly my abs on it but also am using it for other things as well. My question is a simple one i imagine.I can only afford on or the other of the follwing: Safty squat bar--or-Buffalo bar---which one would you recommend?
Thank you for your help.
Bar will offer you a greater variety of movements'.
QUESTION: hey. I am a 15 year old shopmore and my high school weightlifting coach has us on the westside routine. ITS GREAT!!!! but i am having a hard time getting my squat maxes up. (mainly because i loose my back on any squat lower than an inch above paralell)i squt 315 one inch above para. and i squat 225 one inch below, i do good morninges every lowerbody day we squat with chians and bands(noy at the same time)we do RDLs with the bands back raises and reverse hybers but i just can't get the squats up.
If you are
losing strength with a one inch drop it is probably due to not enough
hip work. Try moving your stance out another 3 to 4 inches each foot and
add in movements like pull throughs and ultra wide dead lifts. Your problem
can also result from lack of flexibility in the hip abductors/ hip adductors
, try adding in some low box squats after your sets down to a 3 or 4 inch
lower box with a light weight. This problem can also be related to torso
strength. Increase your ab work
also we perform clean and jerks and i can't stay tight on those either.
Increase your ab work again. The body's core is responsible for keeping form in these lifts
as far as the bench press goes i have come up from 160 to 245 since august and i couldn't be happier but i am a little confused i can up 70lbs in about 9 weeks and only 15lbs since then is there a reason for this?
If everybody could put 70pounds on their lifts every 9 weeks imagine how strong we all would be. Progress just does not work that way. As long as you keep going up then you are on the right track
thanks for the great work out it has made me stronger quiker and more agile!!!!
QUESTION: My question's about chains. Acording to Simmons article on the subject, the chains should be half on the floor at the top of the lift (at least, with the bench press), and all on the floor at the bottom of the lift. How can that be? In the accompanying photo of someone bench-pressing with the chains, there'd obviously be no way for the chains to be completely on the floor if they are draped over the bar.
1) Can you clarify this discrepancy please, and,
2) If the chains are merely draped over the bar, how do you keep them from sliding off on the floor?
Thank you for your time!
The only discrepancy
is the way many lifters and coaches are implementing the chains. The only
time they are draped over the bar is with the floor press. The rest of
the time they are run through a ring that is attached by a smaller chain
that is then attached to the bar.
QUESTION: I have just started training with wsb techniques(2 months). My problem is my butt always comes up to early when I deadlift. What can I do to prevent this.
about it. If you watch most of the greatest dead lifters ever they all
do the same thing. What you need to check is how close you can keep the
bar to the midline of your body. if the bar is far away and your hips are
still coming up then you need to strengthen your hamstrings.
I really do
not know. We use the band with the monolift. The best way to tell is to
weight them your self using a scale, several boards, and the
QUESTION: Recently you commented on vegetarian's and protein concerns when responding to a question. I agree with most of what you said. Protein is a problem; however, I have been a vegetarian for 10 + years and I have competed for 20 years. During the last ten, I have qualified for nationals 3 times and I will finally be going this May. The lack protein held me back until I started recording everything I ate and supplemented appropriately. I now consume 250-300 grams a day at a body wieght of 160lbs. It can be done; however, it is not a matter of just eating more calories for vegetarian athletes. They have to pay particular attention to nutrients lacking in their diet. Along with protein, creatine would be next! We get very little, if any since no meat is consumed. Hey, it's not for everyone.
I am currently completing my graduate nutrition courses in order to obtain my nutrition license, so if you choose to post this long comment feel free to post my e-mail address (<email@example.com>) as well. I enjoy your Q and A. It is best information for lifters that I have seen anywhere. Keep up the good work!
but I still need my Ribs and Steak. Good luck in obtaining you RD LD.
QUESTION: Hello. I am 41 year old who has never lifted in a competition. I hav been lifting heavy for many years, staying @ 85-100% almost all the time. My best bench press is a shirtless 450lbs. Of course I had become stale. So I started cycling for the first time about 15 weeks ago. I know you don't care for volume/intensity routines,but I thought that would be a good way to give myself a break.
All training programs are based upon Volume and intensity, I have a problem with the ones that separate the strength. power, hypertrophy, and peak phases. I believe these phase should be coupled together.
Currently after my 2 sets of
flat bench I do 2 sets of 3 board presses followed by 2 sets of 5 board
presses, both @ the weight I am using in my
The purpose of the training program we use is to combine the dynamic effort, maximum effort and repetition methods of training. You are only using one of these methods. You are short changing your self out of 2/3 of the proven methods of creating muscle tension. If you are going to train the way you are then dump the board presses and cycle the bench presses. If you are training in a peak phase with both the board press and bench press you are creating an ideal environment for over training.
There is so much new info out there for me right now, I guess I am just overwelmed. ANY input wold be greatly appreciated.
with the basic four day plan.
QUESTION: I have a question about special workouts used for restoration. My current routine is Monday Speed bench, triceps, upper
back, shoulders, biceps, abs. Tuesday Max effort for lower body. Wednesday -off. Thursday Max effort bench. Friday - off. Saturday I do Speed squats with bands. Is it best to do the special exercise later on in the day or do them the following day.
What do you mean by special exercises. If you mean the restoration work using the sled or certain feeder movements. Then 3 to 6 hours after the first workout is really ideal. Then again the following day using 60% of the first days weight.
For example If I was to do
some extra tricep work and upper back would it be better to do later on
in the day after my first workout or the next day after my max effort lower
body workout. Thank you.
QUESTION: I spoke to you on Saturday after I placed an order I am going through a serious case of bicipital tendonitis I cant even hold a dumbel with out serious pain. Any suggestions ? any exercises I should do, not do to help this. I just dont want it to have an effect on my training
It has already
had an effect on your training. Almost 100% of the time this is caused
from squatting. Trying moving your hands out wider and
QUESTION: I was training the Westside bench routine a while back and had excellent results (I got my bench from 390 to 450).
I started burning out on the routine and abandoned it for about a year. I then came back to it expecting to make some more gains. Unfortunately I seemed to get nothing out of it. I even lowered the training %. Do you have any suggestion as to what may have happened and how to correct it? Thanks for the help
The problem is that instead of sticking with it and trying to figure out why you got stuck (or where you weak area is), you switched to a different program. Most other training program do not address weak links the same way as the Westside program. Since this new program did not fix the problem then your weakness still exists. Based upon the information given, I don't have the information necessary to give you any help. For instance where does the bar get stuck and what happens at that point. Does it drop straight down or fade forward or backward?
QUESTION: First, thanks to Louie Simmons, Dave Tate and Deepsquatter for your generosity with time and info. Have questions
about the floor press.
1. As I understand it, the floor press isn't the same as benching off low supports because the floor press keeps the weight on the lifter, like the box squat. Am I right?
No, The weight
is taken of he lifter when the elbows hit the floor. The board press keep
the weight on the lifter. The floor press takes the legs
2. The triceps relax, but should the lats stay contracted?
Everything should really be kept tight. Pause the triceps on the floor and press back up
3. One of Louie's articles says the floor press will build the bottom part of the bench press. Does that mean the bar should touch the chest just as the arms contact the floor?
The bar will land differently on everybody. The reason it work the bottom of the bench is because the stress put on the delts, triceps and chest.
If so, might I need to lay on a couple of 2x12s to do it?
4. Can I accomplish the same thing on a bench with a 5-gal. bucket under each elbow? I work out alone. I have a low rack that fits around my bench and spots it with two long parallel bars; very safe. The buckets would mimic the floor but keep the spotter. Also, I would be starting off the bench uprights so my lowering and pressing grooves would stay the same.
about that "The bucket press" It would not work the same because of reasons
presented above but may work for other reasons. Let me know how it works.
QUESTION: What other books do you sell? I just recieved Facts and Fallacies and am interesed in some of the othe titles you carry. Where do you find these titles? I can't seem to find them anywhere else.
Here is a list:
(Siff & Verkhoshansky): $65.00*
I get my books
from all over the world. In some cases they are from very small publishes
or the authors themselves. I spend a great deal of time and money researching
and reading new titles. I only sell the ones I feel are they very best.
I probably go through 50 books before I find one good one. I am a big believer
in continuous education. If the average change in technology doubles every
18 months then training information is equal to or greater than that. Your
training success five years from now will be a result of what you read
and the people you meet.
QUESTION: I deadlift sumo style. I have no problem coming off the floor but locking out the last 2 or 3 inches is where I fail on a max lift. Without seeing me lift what would you recommend for execises to rectify this? From watching videos of myself my form seems to be good.
and reverse hyper and kneeling squats. You need to bring up your glutei
QUESTION: Dave, I think it's great that you take the time to answer peoples questions and try to help them out. Hopefully you can help me out. I just started lifting about 9 mounths ago and recently competed in my first meet. I totaled 1560 at 275 AM. The problem is that I have Big goals for my powerlifting future and dont think I will be able to accomplish them with my coaches training routine. I dont think its coinsidense that the guys from Westside put up some serious numbers, have huge squats,benches,and deadlifts, and are total lifters. My question for you is what would be the best way to learn the Westside system. I dont mean to disrespect my coach, I just wanna be the best lifter I can be.
The best way
to learn the system is to learn everything you can that Louie or myself
have written. The squat and bench video will also help you to see the movements.
The seminars are by far the best way to learn the system. Every aspect
is covered in detail during the seminar. The best one to attend for your
needs and goals is the Westside seminar. We are also starting four new
seminars dealing with the squat, bench, increasing work capacity, and program
design for athletes. A seminar list is provided at the top of the page:
QUESTION: My work-out partner and I recently switched to using bands instead of chains for the speed bench day (our gym made the chains "illegal"). When using the rubber bands (the "blue" set from Jump Stretch), how should the bands be set-up? We currently use the bands such that when the bar is on our chests, the bands are fully slacked. Is this correct? Are the blue bands the correct bands for benching? Thanks a bunch!
I guess it
is true paradigm shifters get burned at the stake. Five years from now
there will be chains in every gym and you will be thought of as a
QUESTION: How long would you recommend to allow after the band speed squat workout you outlined previously in Q&A (the one
you and Louie used before the IPA Nationals) before you repeat the cycle? Also, would you employ chains or just the bar in the interim? I used the band workout to great success, thank you for sharing it.
We are still
experimenting with the supramaximal phase. It looks like two times a year
may be it. It is very hard on your CNS and takes a very high level of fitness
to do it. It takes up to eight week to push your work capacity up to a
high enough level to even begin the phase. Keep in mind the phase weight
at the top is between 90 and 100% so you have to be fit.
QUESTION: I AM A 48 YR.OLD LIFTER WHO IS IN AWE OF THE STRENGTH OF LOUIE S. I HAVE THE WEST SIDE TRAINING TAPES & VIEW THEM WKLY.
Louie is a great lifter and has done many great things for the sport but should not be awed by anyone. Let me explain why. When I first came to the gym Louie could not bench for close to three years because of nerve problem in his upper back. This is just one of the injuries he has to contend with on a daily basis. He has learn the hard way how the right way to train is. My point is Louie is no different then any one else except he believes in himself more so than anybody I have ever meet. If you or anyone else can believe as much in yourself as much as he does in himself hen you will accomplish what ever you desire
HERE IS MY PROBLEM. IN MY YOUTH AND MID 30'S I WAS A VERY GOOD BENCHER. 465 @ 200LBS, RAW. I REALIZE TIME & INJURIES TAKE THEIR TOLL BUT I SHOULD BE MUCH STRONGER THAN A 275 BENCHER @ 48 YRS. OLD.
What is the best way to say this: YES, why not?
I FEAL MY TRIS ARE PRETTY STRONG,& MAY BACK VERY STRONG ( FRONT PULLS FOR REPS W/ 340 LBS.) MY SHOULDERS ARE STRONG ALSO ( I COULD WORK UP TO A 300LB. B.N.P.IN 6 MONTHS ).
You can do a 300lb behind the neck press but only a 275 bench press. My advise stop doing behind the neck presses because they are doing nothing for your bench press.
I THINK MY PROBLEM LIES IN
MY CHEST STRENGHT HOW DO I BUILD CHEST STRENGHT IF WEST SIDES' PROGRAM
DOWN PLAYS CHEST IMPORTANCE? MY PROBLEM IS BOTH FRUSTRATING & EMBARRASSING.
I AM VERY DISCIPLINED & WILL FOLLOW YOUR ADVICE
If you want
more chest strength try cambered bar bench presses using board press boards
so that the bar only goes 1/2 to 1 inch lower than normal. Also close grip
inclines may help.
QUESTION: Just wanted to say hi Dave and Loui.Thanks for all your help and answered questions! There is not alot of people who will take the time to honestly help people anymore.I have been training a long time but you guys have shown me so many new ways to exercise.I am very greatful for you and your honesty and your sincerity to help anyone who asks you.I really believe Loui will be lifting in contests and still keeping up with the best till the day he dies ,I love his determination , its great.
QUESTION: HI Dave, I am having a lot of problems with my bench, because I am a raw lifter should I or do I have do do anything different with the Simmons program. Please let me know, thanks
No, do not change anything
QUESTION: I read on testostrone internet mag that you may start writting for them. When can we expect to see these articles posted?
I just finished
one for them, all I have to do is edit it then send it out. I have
been asked by many people to start writing more articles and
QUESTION: Please provide a sample training week with weights sets reps volume intensity GPP and restoration based on the westside training.
This is the last week of a recent supramaximal phase I just finished:
Carpet Press (JM style): worked up to heavy triple using 415 then backed it down to 315 for 2 sets of 5.
Dumbbell Extensions (elbows out) supersetted with pushdowns: 4 sets using 60 pound dumbbells and 120 for pushdowns.
Side Raises: 30 pounds for 2 sets of 15
Barbell Rows: worked up to 275 for 2 sets of 6
2 sets 15 with 300 pounds
Around the waist dragging, ankle dragging and upper body dragging, light med ball work and abs
about it. I also keep trac of the total Volume and workload for each section
of exercises for example max effort, supplemental, accessory, prehabilation,
dynamic effort, restoration, and so on. My plan is devised in four week
phases as a guideline. The only for certain are the dynamic work weights
and some of the supplemental movements. We usually chose the max effort
exercise after we get in the gym. This serves many purposes:
Thanks to Mel Siff, PhD for his input on this one:
QUESTION: I know that you aren't a cardiologist but here goes anyway. I was/am fairly fit. I obtained a Metz rating of 15.7 on a stress test on January 25th, 1999 after having a heart attack on December 8th 1998. I want to powerlift again but my doctors advise against me doing so. I don't believe that this advice is based on the specifics of my situation but is more like "powerlifting is not recommended for someone who has had a heart attack." Do you know of anyone that I can contact in order to get information on returning to powerlifting after a heart attack?
A: This type of question is far more serious than almost any other questions that one may encounter in the strength training world, since it is not a matter of the vanity of growing bigger biceps or pecs, or simply lifting more weight to win a medal in the local State championships. Putting it plainly, it may be the difference between life and death.
Dave suggested that my experience might be a great asset in answering this question. I am sure that he was not really referring to my academic background, research or years of lifting experience, but far more to my experience in having survived a massive heart attack that left me clinically dead for 7 minutes and resulted in quadruple bypass surgery.
I do not know anything of your health and family background, but I exhibited none of the classical cardiac risk factors like family history of heart isease or diabetes, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, high blood cholesterol or LDL ('bad' cholesterol) to HDL ('good' cholesterol) ratio and so forth.
I have been a non-meat eater for most of my adult life, have taken every anti-oxidant and 'health' supplement in the book, did aerobic and anaerobic exercise almost daily since I was a teenager, meditated, never smoked - you name the 'right' things that the doctors and alternative types tell you to do - I did all of them and I suffered a huge cardiac attack with never the slightest warning such as chest or neck pains, breathlessness or dizziness.
In fact, two
days before my attack ('infarct') my weightlifting was going so well that
I was considering returning to serious national competition
in the middle of lecturing at my former university to my mechanical engineering
students, I felt profoundly dizzy, sat down thinking
A few days later, an angiogram showed that four of my coronary arteries were massively blocked and that I had lost 60 percent of my heart function. I had to undergo what the medical profession called 'semi-emergency' bypass surgery.
Why such a long preamble to answering your question? That will become clear in a moment when I explain the difference between a minor heart attack and a major one that deprives the heart of blood for more than about 2 minutes.
Something like 30% of all heart attack victims experience this type of major attack without any prior warning signals and a large percentage of them do not survive unless they receive almost immediate medical attention.
Unfortunately, those of us who have this type of attack invariably suffer permanent loss of a large part of the heart due to deprivation of oxygen to the heart muscle. Very often this death of part of the heart can cause irregularities in the heart beat, even after bypass surgery. Apparently, the heart, like the brain, does not like being starved of oxygen for even a few minutes and it never regrows to any significant extent.
However, if you had a less severe heart attack involving sharp pain across the chest and other such early warning signals which enabled your doctors to intervene in more leisurely manner, then it is likely that you did not experience major heart damage. This is a good thing and a bad thing.
The good thing is that you had an early warning and could be stabilised before your heart was seriously damaged. The bad thing is that you may feel quite normal again and that the doctors are just exaggerating the risks. So, you may continue to feel semi-immortal like most athletes and say things to yourself, such as: "It (sudden death) cannot happen to me", "I feel great - I am sure that I could lift again", "We caught it in time, so I should be able to return to lifting soon."
Your doctors advise against returning to powerlifting because they know that exposure to serious athletic stress, especially the large increases in blood pressure associated with heavy lifting, can precipitate another heart attack or vessel rupture which could be fatal next time.
As you say, they do not base this advice largely on the specifics of your situation, but more on the grounds that "powerlifting is not recommended for someone who has had a heart attack." They are obviously being conservative for your health, to avoid any risks of litigation if they give the wrong advice and because there are few studies that have observed the progress of cardiac patients who have returned to serious lifting competition.
Now, I do not know the specifics of your situation and it would be foolhardy for anyone to offer mail order advice on answering your question. The most that anyone can do is to paint the picture as it is and advise you to make any decision on the basis of regular medical checkups and your specific clinical picture.
I could inspire you by telling you that I managed to progress from being a really emaciated weakling who could barely walk around a hospital ward to returning to Olympic weightlifting competition after quadruple bypass surgery and that I am once again very fit and strong.
However inspiring and exemplary my case may sound, that does not mean that you should follow exactly what I did. Just as every serious lifter knows, a training program that suits Ed Coan, Louie Simmons or Alexeyev does not necessarily suit you or me. And in the case of cardiac events, individuality of case and response to stress is even more striking.
So, before anyone can advise you about your future in lifting, they need to know many more specifics and work alongside you with careful regular monitoring.
Here are some questions to ask before indulging in any heavy lifting:
effect did my heart attack have on your cardiac structure and function?
There are several more questions that your doctors may raise concerning issues such as your homocysteine levels (a newly identified cardiac risk factor that may be diminished if you take folate supplements), blood magnesium levels, and the possibility of your having some form of diabetes.
Let me share with you some of the information that I decided to implement in returning to weightlifting competition.
First of all, I reasoned that the major cardiac health risk associated with heavy lifting is due to the large or sustained increases in blood pressure, because this may increase the rate of arterial damage and plaque formation, as well as exposing weakened or narrowed arteries to the risk of rupture - especially after bypass surgery in which veins from the legs serve as replacements for arteries which are meant to handle greater pressure.
in blood pressure is largely the result of the Valsalva manoeuvre produced
by breath holding against a closed glottis, which also
I also noticed during treadmill stress testing that continued aerobic effort also increased my systolic blood pressure and kept it elevated while I was running, so I considered it a sound idea to be also cautious of sustained endurance work that would keep my BP elevated for too long.
I decided to do my aerobic conditioning in the form of shorter 10-15 minute modules several times a day, with plenty of rest and fluid drinking in between (dehydration tends to make the blood 'thicker' and compels the heart to work harder as a pump). I then gradually started doing some short hill work and intervals, but never for more than a total of 20 minutes. I avoided training in the heat of day and when the pain of my chest surgery tailed off, I started swimming.
As my cardiac condition and healing of very painful chest and leg surgery (the deep saphenous veins are stripped from your legs to act as bypass grafts for the heart) progressed, I devised my own system of slow, extended range three-dimensional patterns of movement based on my karate training. I then did this with tension, much like a bodybuilder going through a posing routine, but I took great care not to hold breath while straining.
All the while, I applied the same principles that I used with elite athletes in our "Supertraining" book, because I reasoned that managing a serious cardiac condition was somewhat like training an elite athlete with a vital target ahead! I followed a principle of gradual progressive fluctuating overload (a la periodisation) and slowly added pushups off the wall, free standing squats over part, then full range, many bodybuilding exercises, part and full range deadlifts and clean pulls, and so forth.
All the time I avoided breath holding, but kept my mouth loosely open and my throat relaxed to avoid increasing ITP too much and, if I was lifting heavier loads, I would hum my held breath out or keep my lungs filled to an extent that was just enough to help support my trunk but not too much to cause my face and veins on my face to bulge or show obvious strain.
As I did with my aerobic training, I also lifted in modules lasting no more than 15-20 minutes at a time, with many sets of 1-3 reps and adequate rest between sets. I was very cautious to avoid using loads that would make me hold my breath and strain for more than about 2-3 seconds per rep. For a long time I avoided seated or standing overhead work, since exercise against gravity with the smaller muscles of the arms tends to elevate blood pressure more than leg exercise.
I was especially
careful of typical powerlifting style of lifting with fairly prolonged
shuddering against near maximal loads with plenty of breath
When I eventually returned to competitive Olympic lifting, I chose my lifts to be well within my capabilities and my last attempts were such that I could do two reps with it, so that I knew that I would be straining unduly.
Now, you are probably on medication to prevent coagulation of your blood or clot formation, with aspirin being a common recommendation, so one needs to be careful about the increased risk of bleeding and bruising. This, of course, is further territory for your doctor's advice.
I then went
on a special diet and numerous supplements to enhance my rehabilitation
and to reduce the risk of any further untoward cardiac
Supplements that are popularly used for heart disease are garlic oil capsules, fish oil, coenyzyme CoQ10, magnesium, vitamin B complex (including folate and B12), lecithin, vitamin E, ginger, various amino acids (like L-carnitine, L-arginine and L-glutamine), hawthorne berry, gotu kola, gingko biloba, capsaicin (hot peppers) and creatine. However, what you take can interact with your cardiac medication, so that it is important to discuss any supplementation with your doctor after you have done some fairly extensive reading yourself.
return to competitive lifting? Well, I and several others have done
so quite comfortably, but each case is highly individual and it is
A sound approach would be to introduce moderate resistance training gradually and "festine lente" (hasten slowly), and adhere at all times to a gradual overload principle that suits your situation optimally.
You may well discover, like I did, that you may return comfortably to near maximal efforts that allow you to remain in the upper 1% of strength for your age group and continue to enrich your body and mind enormously, but that is me and all I can do is share my experience with you and trust that you will devise a suitable program for you in conjunction with a doctor who really seems to be up to date with the latest research.
Dr Jim Merrill recently wrote an article for Medscape online journal called "A trend toward resistance training in the programs of cardiac rehab patients may speed their return to productive work and recreation." You could use Medline or PubMed to access this full article. If you have no luck in locating it, I will gladly send you a copy.
All the best in devising a training and living plan that will enhance and sustain your quality of life for many years to come! Never underestimate the importance of managing stress effectively in your life, because you may have all the finest surgery and training in the world, but this can readily be undermined by adverse mental outlook and state.
Mel C Siff
QUESTION: I maxed out last month with my shirt and got 480lbs ,PR,. I tried 500 and the weight felt heavy and i couldn't get it of my chest. For the last month I have been training my back 2 times a week. Today I put my shirt on tried 500 and it felt lighter then before. I got it about 4 inches off my chest when my partner help about 2inches then I did the rest myself. I have a meet next month and I want 500. What should I do more back or what? Please help all you can!
Two board presses
and tell your partner to keep his hands off the bar. Develop more speed
in the first 4 inches by using bands or chains and use the 2 and 3 board
press as your choice max effort exercises.
QUESTION: Would the sled you sell take some 50lb. plates I bought used? They are not the ones I usually see in the gym. The hole in center is a little smaller. Any problem with the sled rusting if left oustside?
The sled holds
Olympic sized plates. If your plates fit on a barbell then they will fit
on the sled.
QUESTION: Whats up Dave,just wondering saw a review of a book"POWER TO THE PEOPLE,Russian Training secrets for every American"by Pavel Tsatsouline in the April 2000 Ironman-is this book any good-would it benefit a powerlifter/highland games athlete-Thanks alot
I have not
seen the book yet but have not been impressed with his other stuff. Other
people have also told me that is wasn't that good. This is why we do not
carry it. I will not carry Junk books because there are already too many
of them on the market. The money would be better spent on the books:
I am in the
process of reviewing books by Ian King that you may also be interested
in. So far I am pretty impressed.....
QUESTION: What do you think of the information by Charles P, Paul Check and other coaches?
This is just my position, take it for what's its worth........
There are many coaches and trainers across the world who are very good at what they do and many more who are mot so good at what they do. What needs to be determined is What they really do? Bu this I mean do they actually work with the athletes they write about or do they only work with them one or two times. many times a trainer will say they trained they Elite Athlete and later you find out that they worked with them one time.
The second thing to look at is do they specialize in everything. If they do, it is best to run away as fast as you can. It is impossible to specialize at every component of fitness (dynamic strength, explosive strength, absolute strength, flexibility, rehab, nutrition, speed training, agility, etc) with every sport. If they say they do then you need to ask how they acquired this great knowledge with every sport? I feel it is best to seek out those who specialize in one aspect of training and integrate to your needs or the needs of your team. You are the only one who knows yourself or your team, so it is your responsibility to integrate what you feel will make the greatest difference.
Thirdly, If they are talking over your head with out explaining the concepts then they are either trying to hide something or make themselves appear as experts. this is the real world where not every coach or athlete are experts in fitness. Things should be explained in a understandable way that can be used. How can you apply a program you do not understand. If you can't understand it or they don't explain it then it will not work for you. At the same time it will also not set you back because you can't use it. So when it comes time to answer the question how did the advise work for you, you cannot say it did not work only "It seemed like it would work great or I received great advice but did not follow it" The reason you answer this way is that you do not want to admit that you did not understand.
Forth, I respect anybody in the industry who is trying to make a difference. These people take much time out of there day to educate people for little or no money. With out them we would all be stuck in the ways of the past. When I give my views of training program it never has anything to do with the individual behind it only the programs.
As far a Charles, Paul they both have very much to offer and have helped a wide variety of athletes. There are goods and bads about any style of training and it is unfair to base your position on a couple of articles they have written, This is because you need to understand who the article was directed to. If Paul writes an article on abdominal training for the introductory athlete it would not be the same advice he would give for the advanced athlete. Both these coaches know much more than people give them credit for.
At Westside barbell we try to pull in as much information as we can from EVERYBODY not just the experts. Who is the expert anyway "the guys who tells you how to fix the problem or the guy who has had the problem and fixed it" You need to listen to both and come up with the best solution for you. You also need to make a commitment to education , read everything you can find that will help you out (stay away from the bodybuilding books), watch videos (both educational and contest tapes), talk to as many people as you can. If you do all these things then you will always progress. If you are at the same level as you were one year ago and are still doing the same things, maybe you ought to think about switching something.
I hope this helps out.
1. Know who you are listening to: What have they done them selves and who have they really coached
2. Are they experts in one field or a "jack of all trades"
3. Are they speaking your language
4. Do they critize other people or their methods?
5.Educate your self, There is an old saying that states "Readers are Leaders"
QUESTION: If I may...
First, to preface, I have nothing but admiration and respect for Simmons and WSB.
However, these claims about sled
dragging are reminiscent of my martial arts days, where certain exercises
were claimed to increase
My question is, when you analyze
sled dragging on purely tangible terms, what feature does it have (that
other forms of exercise do
If we look at sled dragging from
an energetics standpoint, is it that somehow Simmons has found that magical
slice of the energy pathway
Or, if we examine dragging from a
purely biomechanical point of view, does dragging somehow hit muscles that
all of the hundreds of
I'm not against sled dragging by
any means- it's a fantastic form of anaerobic work. I'm just a little amazed
at the mystical attributes
This is my insight on sled dragging:
The sled dragging
came to Westside Barbell from Eskil Thomason "A lifter who came to us from
Sweden) He explained to us that there were many great deadlifters from
Sweden who also worked as lumberjacks and spent most there day dragging
trees out of the woods. Louie took this as a sign that this dragging must
have something to do with the dead lifting success. After implementing
into the routines of many Westside members we notice increase in the dead
lift up to 60 pounds. We have never been know as great dead lifters and
now we had 7 lifters pulling over 750 and one new 800 pound dead lifter.
This is all the proof we needed. Louie started prescribing it for other
lifters around the world and the same stories about increased dead lifting
came back to us. Many of these stories can be found on this list. Many
power lifters have tried adding in cycling and running to there program
but we have never heard them come back and say that it raised their dead
lift. To answer the question what effects does sled dragging have over
other forms of GPP, it is really a simple answer " An increased dead lift".
This could be due to the increased fitness level, to direct hamstring work,
or even the mental discipline it takes to add in extra workouts. For us
it really doesn't matter. When we find something that works then we use
it until it stops working, the whole time looking for the next thing that
ps. We have
had lifters who have added in running, cycling and recreational basket
ball to their training with very little luck. They actually went back wards
by sometimes over 100 pounds on their total. This tells me that the GPP
has to be somewhat specific in terms of the sport you are preparing for.
This could also be known as SPP depending on the nature of the training.
Thanks for sending in the questions. If you have any more, just email me and I will try to help. Also, thanks to Dave Tate, Matt Hawkins, Scott Helmer, Wade Hanna, Mike Trupiano, Jeff Hoyle and Jeff Graham for the feedback/lifting tips.