Westside/Louie Simmons Frequently Asked Questions

Q: On DL/SQ max effort day can I add some regular full squats for high reps for my Quads.  I feel I am lacking in this area.  A friend of  mine does box squat twice a week is this too excessive?  Can he use  full squats for high reps?  Any information will be appreciated.

 A:This is a very complicated question. I would first ask why do you feel you  are lacking in this area? Very few powerlifters lack in the quad area. They  are usually weak in the hamstring area. But if this is an area you lack, I
 would suggest very low box squats ( 4 inches lower than regular box height  for squats) with your feet in close. Using the safety squat bar or front  squat harness can also make a big difference. By going this deep with your
 feet close to bring the quads more into the movement. Use this as your max  effort exercise for a set of 1 or 3 reps, then work back down to a moderate  weight for a few sets of 3 to 5 reps. Also add in some sled dragging. This
 does wonders for the quads and hamstrings.

 As far as box squatting twice a week being excessive, I would have to  venture out and say yes. Lets me guess, your friend is drug free and says  that box squats don't make his squats go up. I say this because of the  number of drug free lifters who send me workout programs that I would not  even attempt to put a lifter who was loaded to the gill on. Box squat only  once a week and concentrate on your weak points on the other day. Think  about this, what is keeping your lifts from going up? There has to be a weak  link in the chain some where. What do you think would happen if you  strengthened that weak link?

 Those who say all you have to do is squat to get a big squat are wrong. What  happens when all you do is squat? You strong muscles keep getting stronger  and you weak muscles keep getting weaker, then you hit a sticking point.  What happens now since all you do is squat is that your body is going to try  to find the path of least resistance. Normally this means a change is  squatting technique. You may start bending over more or pushing your knees  in. So what you are left with is a stagnate squat with poor form. Very few  lifters keep hitting PR's  year after year who train only the squat and  don't work the weak link. 

Q: The other day I added a kink into my training and added three more sets into my regular ten on both squat and bench.  My reason for this  was, I couldnt quite get warm enough before I used the bands.  So now
 I do a regular warm up set which involves 3x8@70% then I start my  regular 10 sets of 2 or 3 at whatever weight I may be using.  Do you  think this is to much or a good solution.

A:This is way to much work over 70%. What I do is.
 135 for 3 sets of three
 225 for 2 or three sets of 2
 315 for 1 set of 2
 405 for 1 set of 2
 495 training weight (8 sets of 2)
 * most of the warm up takes place with 135 and 225. If I don't feel  good  then I don't go up. There has been days when me and Louie have taken  135  five or six times until we got warm.

Q:  Recently as my training percent has increased I have felt that my bar  speed has slowed down.  This is obviously normal due to the increase in wieght but how do I compensate do to the fact that I need a  speedy
 bar path?

A: The first thing I would di is try to push harder. This sounds  simple, but  when we get on somebody about poor bar speed it always seems to pick  up just  by increasing the effort.

 Also, I was intrested in the reverse-hyper machine but when  I saw the price I thought I couldnt handle it because Im just a  college student. Then when I did have enough money for the home  model  the guy who I was ordering it from said because of my squat the  poundage wouldnt be enough to challenge me over time. Is there any  way  I could get some dimensions to build it or are there any exercises  that are comprable?  Any information is always apprieciated.

 A: The best thing I could say is keep saying money for the reverse  hyper.You  have waited this long so whets a little longer to save more money. It will  make a difference in your training. I am not to sure of the  dimensions..

Q: If you happen to find some time, please help me here when you can...I have been reading Zatsiorky, Verkhoshansky, Mell Siff, but i still could not understand how such practices work :

20 rep dumbbel maxes (?)
20 rep deadlifts (?)
15 to 20 rep belt squats (?)

I guess you have Super Training, so I dont need to mention in detail, but high rep training is mentioned to have a negative effect on strenght, maycause fast fibers to act like slower ones, break down fast fibers and so.

Being Louie heavily influenced by eastern litereature and as Olympic lifters perform very specific forms of strenght work, how such high reps fit into the picture ???
I suppose continuously engaging in max singles could lead to boredom, so a minicycle of higher reps can allow some active rest, but wouldnt just 5 to 8 reps be enough ???  Why 20 ???

Whats the purpose of high rep minicylces,, give a break from singles or to build muscle mass ? Is there a pattern as so many weeks on singles X so many on high reps (?)

Also most bodybuilders consider 6 to 8, may be up to 10 reps to be the best range to build muscle, but Ive got the impression Louie mentioned somewhere muscle mass can be better developed between 15 to 25 reps (?)

. I remember an old powerlifting USA article when he said he did 4 sets of 20 reps at bench presses 4 TIMES A WEEK to bring his chest up (?) 

Dave,, Im no one to question Louie, but this high rep stuff seens to be in some conradiction with the literature he mentions, what do you think ?

A: High rep work is intended for:
1. A power lifter body takes a beating with all the heavy weight and low reps. Things begin to hurt like biceps tendons, pec - delt tie ins, lower backs, ect. These things are going to happen and are just part of the game.
The high reps will and do flush much blood into the muscles you are training. The best thing for a over worked and injured muscle is a fresh supply of blood.

2. In power lifting once again we are always performing very low reps with heavy weight. Bodybuilders will tell you the best way to make a muscle grow is to shock them. What better way to shock a muscle then to do high reps
when you are used to 1 and 3 reps all the time. 

3. There are three ways to increase muscle tension. One is to use submaximal weight at very high speeds, two is to lift maximal weight and the third is to lift submaximal weights to failure. We do the high reps in order to reach
total failure and recruit the maximal number of muscle fibers. Why 20? Test your self by going to failure with 8 reps in the dumbbell press. Now try failure with 20 reps. The 20 reps set will feel much more unstable toward
the end.

4. These reps are not done every week but only every third mini cycle so there is no way you will lose strength. You would lose strength if this was the only way you trained. I think this is what the Authors are referring to.

5. It seem to work time and time again with many lifters. As Louie would say something's don't have to make since because he has the best sample test group in the world (this includes are gym and all those is talks to), and if
it works time and time again, then it must be good
I hope this helps.......

Q: QUESTION: In an article that I read Louie briefly addressed using the methods for sport specific training.  What would be the best exercises to incorporate into the program for an athlete who is a basketball player interested in increasing his vertical as much as possible.

A: Box squats and belt squats.

Q: Thank you for the quality reading material.  I have read most of the texts you and Louie refer to and have followed a Westside type program for the past four years after many years of
not lifting. Squat up from 350 very deep to just legal 605, Deadlift up from 350 to 529 and bench
up from 315 to 363 (no shirt) at 198 and 40 years age.  Unfortunately I only get in 4 lifts a week so I am not quite a true devotee.  Would appreciate you opinion on the following regarding starting
strength; I agree that box squats are great for speed and starting strength and speed benches for speed & reflex work.  It seems to me also that, particularly for bench, a combo of speed benches (3s)with bench starts off pins as close as possible to chest height and pauses off the chest would improve overall the start/speed/reflex action.

A:  This would work sort of like the Pin Presses we used to do. We stopped doing them a couple of years ago because they were doing more harm then good. They are very hard on the pec / delt tie in.
We have found that "catching" the bar just off the chest ( about 1 inch), then exploding upward
to be even more effective then touching your chest. I have had many pec problems in my career and have been looking for a way to keep from reinjurying them. I noticed that George Halbert hardly ever touched his chest when he did his sets. To me this made since because I can keep greater tension on the pecs by not allowing them to relax when I touch my chest. The key to doing this correctly is to drop the bar fast (but still in control) catch and reverse as fast as possible. I have been benching this way for over a year and have not had a single pec problem.
This is a great accomplishment for me, just ask anybody I train with.

Before I get all the comments about how the Westside Method causes injuries, I should state that I tore my left  pec minor tendon before I came to Westside. I also tore the right  pec major and minor
before as well. I have been dealing with muscle imbalance and scar tissues issues ever since. I
used to train under the standard Periodization model using progressive overload.

A final note: I tore my pec tendon trying to bench 500 on a third attempt. I now open with 540 and have benched 585. This is after my being advised to never bench again.

For squats one could use box squats & speed squats Shane Hamman style (maybe too dangerous for guys with small legs & or knee problems & pause squats.  What do you think?  Also, any directions on obtaining Soviet Sports Review or its current version if there is one?  Again, thanks for the excellent material.

Try Sports Training Inc. There office hours are 9:00 - 5:00 Pacific time. This is Yessis's company. You can order back issues of the Soviet Sports Review for around $4.00 an issue. There number is

Q: QUESTION: I have been trying your 50% of max squat for 12 sets 2 reps with 45 second pause, when and how do you determanine your max squat. I work out with a 800+ squater we don't have all the chains and bands, No Juice either, any advice would be appreciated.

A:.How are you training at 50% if you don't know your max? You should test out your max around every two or three training waves. Keep in mind that training program is a phase one program for a field
athlete. Phase one is a beginning athlete with limited training experience not an 800 squatter or a competitive powerlifter..


A: When you say a beginner, I am assuming a beginner to weight training in general. If this is the case some slight modifications to the Westside program need to be made. As a beginner some training and structure issues need to be addressed first. For instance you need to develop joint flexibility, develop strong abs and lower back, and correct any muscle imbalances.

This can all be done with a conjugated method of training  "The Westside training program"  You will need to increase the number of sets you do in the squat and bench press to 10 to 12. The reps on the bench will still stay at three and the squat at 2. Don't worry to much about the percentage of
weight used because you neuromuscular system will be adapting fairly fast to the movements. Keep the bar speed up trying to keep the length of the whole set equal to the time it takes to perform a maximal lift. For example, if it takes you 2 seconds to perform a maximal bench attempt. Then it should only take two seconds to complete the set of three reps.

Also keep your maximal effort work to three reps until you better learn the movements. Once you become better at them drop the maximal effort reps down to 1.

After you core work on squat and max effort squat days  train the abs and lower back very hard. Train the as on all four workouts. Two heavy workouts and two light. When you finish with the as and lower back perform some GPP work and you are done. On the bench days train the triceps then more GPP

Also keep in mind you need to balance your movements sets and reps. For every pressing movement you need some type of pulling movement. For every extension you need a flexion. For every bent over movement you need a arching movement. The does not all have to be balance in the same workout
but over the course of the mini-cycle.

Q: 1. Knowing that you guys wear Frantz suits, why would someone wear a canvas suit over a poly and vice-versa?

A: This depends on the lifter. Most of the lifters in our gym don't like the canvas suit because they say it doesn't give them any rebound. Billy Masters tried one for over a year and never posted a good squat until he switched back to a polly. I never had any luck with a Polly because I never know when
to come back up. I have had this problem my whole career. When I suit with a polly I end up 4 inches below before I reverse the squat. When I use a canvas suit it stops me completely. There is no way possible to go any lower unless you tailor the suit bigger. The trick is getting the suit to fit correctly. I have had a couple occasions when I gained weight and could only squat down to a quarter squat. The suit should stop you about 2 inches above with no weight and the straps up.

If you are looking for a rebound like you find in a poly it won't be there. This is a good suit if you are a very big box squatter and never seem to get a big carry over. Before I started using a canvas suit my best box squat ( 2 inches below) with a lose suit  straps down and no knee wraps was 820. My
best meet suit was 840. Not a very big carry over considering most people get 80 to 100 pounds.

To me the canvas feel just like a box squat. I squat down it stops me and I explode up.

2. Why have you guys gone from doing good mornings 4 out of 10 workouts to 6 out of 10 workouts?

I never knew we did them 4 out of 10 or 6 out of ten. It has always seemed to me that we are doing good mornings 70 to 80 percent of the time. We pick some type of good morning a stay with it for one week or two then switch to another type. We will throw in some type of low box squatting every now and again.

3. Another suit ?-When you have the canvas suit on how loose should it be while you are standing up? Do you also wear Frantz' briefs?

I where the regular frantz briefs under my suit. I think there are briefs designed to where with the canvas suit but have never tried them. The suit standing up is fairly lose, it only gets tight when you are squatting down.

Keep in mind with the canvas suit:

1. Many federations do not allow them
2. It only works for some lifters and it seems to be less and less each year.
3. It is very expensive and WILL need to be tailored a few times. This adds even more to the cost.
It would be best to find someone who has one and try it out to see if you like it first..

Q:  I use the westside program with great results. Recently me and my training partner tried incorporating benches with a cambered bar on our Bench Max effort day. Do you think this is of benefit for the Start of your bench or of any value. Should I do them with my Green bands like I heard
mentioned before.

A: I would have to see you benching with the cambered bar to let you know if it is a good idea or not. I feel the camber is to much for almost all lifters. This over stretching puts the deltoids in a compromising position. To get a better benefit of the cambered bar use it with boards, as in the board press. This way you can control how deep you go. 1 or 2 inches is plenty. This is a great exercise for those who have a problem getting the bar off their chest.

Bands and chains are always a good idea. You should try to use them as much as possible. The contrast method is doing great things for lifters around the world..

Q: QUESTION: I am having difficulty with my bench press. In particular I am sticking at midpoint. In the bottom third my strength and bar speed is very good but when I get near my limit I hit a brick wall right in the middle. When I am able to get past this point the bar goes up quite easily. What muscle groups do you suspect are holding me back and do you have any suggestions for specific exercises

A: .Sticking in the  middle of the bench can be caused by a number of different things: Not enough speed to blast through the sticking point, your elbows could be flaring out instead of staying in, you may not be keeping your shoulder blades together causing  you to lose tightness in the lats, Your triceps may not be strong enough to take over. The best exercises for correcting this are board presses set at just below your sticking point.
This will increase your maximal strength at your sticking point. Reverse Band Press and band press. Both of these movements will teach you to blast through the sticking point.

Q: QUESTION: Dave,  I was wondering if you had any thoughts about lifting belts?  I am no longer a newbie in the world of weight training and  am finding my lifts are getting to be very heavy and intense.
 Would it be a good idea to invest in a belt?  What are the pros  and cons of using belts?  Also, which type (ie. leather or  nylon/velcro)?

A: For only bodybuilding type workouts then I would suggest not using a belt at all. My view on a lifting belt is that it is a training aid. Many times people over use their belts and become dependent on them as
well as not learning how to use their core. Over using a belt will also lead to the development of a weaker core.

Q: QUESTION: Westside doesn't agree with the H.I.T. thoery but  I was wondering if you advocate going to failure on your  assistance exersises, such as extentions,pushdowns,barbell rows, ect.

A: I quess the best way to answere this is NO. We  always try to leave a rep or two left in every set.

Q: QUESTION: I've just recently began training "Westside" style, I'm doing fine but... I feel as though I can drop a few pounds of body fat, I was wondering what diet and training schedule would you guys recommend for someone looking to drop around 8-10 lbs. while still gaining/maintaining muscle
mass and strength? Thanks.

A: Drag a sled  with a moderate weight on a three day wav. Take short rest period between sets of 50 - 100 yards. Try to work up to 30 minutes of dragging everyday. Perform a three day wav using 60% of the weight on day 3 as you used on day 2, and 60% of the weight on day two as you used on day one. After this cycle rest one day and start again. If it is only 10 pounds I would not worry to much about the diet. make sure to get enough protein (I like to recommend 1 gram per pound of body weight as a
goal. Most people won't hit it but will get with in 75% of it. The 75% is all I am looking for). I have also had luck with a product "rock hard" ,containing L-Carnitine and other amino acids, with helping
clients to drop weight.

Q: Enjoy reading your insightful answers.  However, I'm unclear on the concept of "active" rest.  Isn't this a contradictory term?...  Doesn't rest = rest and active = active?  Why/how could "active" rest be better than "inactive" rest?...  Also, could you point me to resaerch that explains/supports this theory.

A: Active rest is a form of restoration. You can find more information on this topic in Dr. Mel Siffs book Super Training as well as a book he coauthored with Dr. Yessis on the topics of restoration. Active rest can be composed of many different restoration methods (GPP, gymnastics, play, and sporting
games) One of the major purposes of this is to reintroduce fresh blood to the muscles that were trained earlier ( this can be the day before or hours before) This introduction of blood is intended to help the muscle recover faster. Restoration methods are very misunderstood and under rated in the west. Some of these methods have been used in the east since the beginning of time but for some reason we dismiss them as nonsense. I am in the process of writing an article on this topic and will try to post in in the future.

Q: QUESTION: How do you the Barbell Row?  Is the Narrow-Grip Pulldoen the same as the lat.
pulldown except with a narrow-grip?

A: We don't do the barbell row. If I was to do it I would use the same grip I bench with and try to pull the bar to the exact location when I would bring the bar down during the bench press. Most our Lat work is composed of barbell pull with the bands ( hang the bar in the bands from the rack, lay on the bench and pull the bar down to your chest), pulldowns, one arm rows, chest supported rows, sled work both dynamic and static.

Q: QUESTION: Re: dragging When you say "100 feet down and back", do you  mean 100 feet total or 200 feet total on 1 trip?

A: 200 Total

Thanks.  Got the sled and  started using it.  I gather that to use both straps you tie them through
the same hook in front of the sled?

No,  for the upper body work and the ankle dragging  run the one strap through the other. For the straight dragging one strap will be enough.

The upper body work and ankle dragging:  is there one strap in each hand/ankle or both hands holding the one strap?

Hook one strap up to the sled. Slide the other strap through the first strap. Grab the strap (one hand in each loop). This would be the position to do the shoulder raises. Set up the straps the same way for the ankle dragging except slide your foot through the loop (one foot for each loop). You will have to take your shoe off for it to fit. Make sure to put your shoe back on.

Is the second strap looped through the end of the first strap (the area that the belt normally goes) for straight dragging?  Is there a manual/video on sled work so I can see what a bent-over/front raise/rear raise look like?

We are going to start work on a GPP video in a couple weeks. The sled dragging will be in it. To do the front raise grab the strap as above, one hand in each loop. Walk forward until your arms are being stretched behind you at this point raise your arms upward as you would a dumbbell front raise. Keep walking throughout the motion. Repeat. I don't have a fax machine, but if you have any other questions give me a call 1-(614) -309- 6176 . I will be home all weekend. During the week I get in around 8:30pm.

Here is a typical dragging mini-cycle geared toward powerlifting using a Westside training program. 1 trip is equal to 100 feet down and back. Also note the weights I use in the program are only to illustrate the percentages. Your weights will be very different. A good place to start might be:

Forward and reverse dragging; 180 pounds
Ankle dragging: 70 pounds
Front and Rear Raise: 90 pounds
Bent over Drag: 90 pounds

You will probably feel run down the first three weeks. If you don't start to adapt then drop the volume until you adapt. After 3 weeks your workouts and recovery should start to improve greatly. Let me know how thing progress.

Monday: max effort squat day
Forward Dragging 2 trips (100 pounds) = 100%
Reverse Dragging 2 trips (100 pounds) = 100%
Ankle Drag 1 trip (100 pounds) = 100%
Front Raise 2 trips (60 pounds)= 60% of Sun
Rear Raise 2 trips (60 pounds) = 60% of Sun

Forward Dragging 2 trips (60 pounds) = 60% of Mon.
Reverse Dragging 2 trips (60 pounds) = 60% of Mon.
Ankle Drag 1 trip (100 pounds) = 60% of Mon.
Front Raise 2 trips (35 pounds)= 60% of Mon.
Rear Raise 2 trips (35 pounds) = 60% of Mon.

Wednesday: max effort bench day
Forward Dragging 2 trips (35 pounds) = 60% of Tue
Reverse Dragging 2 trips (35 pounds) = 60% of Tue
Ankle Drag 1 trip (100 pounds) = 60% of Tue
Front Raise 2 trips (100 pounds)= 100%
Rear Raise 2 trips (100 pounds) = 100%

Off day. I have found it best to rest or use a sauna the day before speed squat day.

Friday: speed squat day
Forward Dragging 2 trips (100 pounds) = 100%
Reverse Dragging 2 trips (100 pounds) = 100%
Bent over dragging 1 trip (100 pounds) = 100%
Front Raise 2 trips (60 pounds)= 60% of Wed
Rear Raise 2 trips (60 pounds) = 60% of Wed

Forward  Dragging 2 trips (60 pounds) = 60% of Fri.
Reverse Dragging 2 trips (60 pounds) = 60% of Fri.
A Bent over dragging 1 trip (100 pounds) = 60% of Fri.
Front Raise 2 trips (35 pounds)= 60% of Fri.
Rear Raise 2 trips (35 pounds) = 60% of Fri.

Sunday: speed bench day
Forward Dragging 2 trips (35 pounds) = 60% of Sat
Reverse Dragging 2 trips (35 pounds) = 60% of Sat
Ankle Drag 1 trip (100 pounds) = 60% of Sat
Front Raise 2 trips (100 pounds)= 100%
Rear Raise 2 trips (100 pounds) = 100%.

Q: QUESTION: How often do you guys perform a max in the box squat?  I know its good to see sometimes where you are, but do you guys max in the box squat  every 8 weeks if you are not competing?

A: In one way or another, yes. About  every eight weeks you should  take some kind of weight. This is always at the end of our squat sets. If we are using chains or bands then we just work up with them on the bar. Listed below is the squat cycle Louie and I used for the  IPA World Cup.
1. 400 with triple looped blue band
2. 445 with triple looped blue band
3. 465 with triple looped blue band
4. 485 with triple looped blue band (worked up to single after sets to 665)
5. 425 with triple looped blue band with choked pink band
6. 445 with triple looped blue band with choked pink band
7. 465 with triple looped blue band with choked pink band (worked up 585 for
8. 485 with triple looped blue band with choked pink band
9. 425 with triple looped blue band and choked green band
10. 445 with triple looped blue band and choked green band
11. 465 with triple looped blue band and choked green band (worked up to 600
for single)
12. 485 with triple looped blue band and choked green band (after 4 sets
added choked pink band for the last 4 sets)
13. 475 with choked green band
14. 425 with choked green band
15. meet week

All the workouts were for 8 sets of 2 reps using a box. As you can see we took some kind of weight 3 out of the 15 weeks. We tried to wave the bands with each mini-cycle to see what happens. When you train this way it very taxing on your CNS, this is why we took two light weeks before the meet.
I can say however that we have never been this strong or explosive.

Q: QUESTION: I have been using the boxes on squats 315 on a parallel box, yet I don't seemed to be any stronger what am I doing wrong? I weigh 163 and have sqauted 485 in competion but now when I leave the boxes i feel weak. Also I am doing my benches with 245  10sets of 3 with one minute rest. yet when i leave that and try a max 275 feels heavy. How do you leave the boxes or benches (lite ) and deal with the heavy weights in competion. 

A: There could be many potential causes of your problems. You're squat feels weak out of the hole and your bench feels heavy. I will address the squat first:

Problem #1: You are training your box squats at 65% with out any fluctuation. You should wave your squats over a four week cycle. I have found with squat level that a wave of 60% - 75% to be effective. An example of what I mean is listed below:
Week 1: 290 x 8 x 2
Week 2: 315 x 8 x 2
Week 3: 335 x 8 x 2
Week 4: 355 x 8 x 2

Problem # 2: Your box is to high, Try to lower it to one inch below parallel. This will work your glutes and hamstrings more. This brings me to the next problem

Problem # 3: You are not sitting back far enough. If you don't sit back far enough you are decreasing the work on  the glutes and hamstrings and putting it on the quads. Make sure to sit back so your knees stay in line with your heels.

Problem # 4: You need to really force your knees out throughout the entire movement. This helps to keep your hips and glutes tight in the hole. 

Problem # 5: You need to work up in weight every eight weeks. This doesn't have to be prescribed and should be performed at the end of the workout. When ever you feel good work up to a single. The important thing is not to miss.

Problem # 6: Your Core needs further development. This is always the case 99% of the time. If your Core is not balanced with the rest of your body then there is a loss of power transferred. Think of it this way. The strength of your lower body has to be transferred through the core before it
gets to the bar. If the core is weak then the total power transfer will be lessened.

Problem # 7: Your Max Effort work should be heavy and targeted toward the weaknesses I described above. If you are not doing Max Effort work, then start.

Problem # 8: You are not using chains and bands. These devices work under what is known as the contrast method. They will teach you to be more explosive out of the hole.

The Bench Press

Problem #1: You need to work up in weight every eight weeks. This doesn't have to be prescribed and should be performed at the end of the workout. When ever you feel good work up to a single. The important thing is not to miss.

Problem # 2: If the weights feel heavy then you are not keeping tight. Remember to keep your shoulder blades together and drive them into the bench.

Problem # 3: You need to bring up your lats. Your lats help to maintain the ightness discussed above.

Problem # 4: Your Max Effort work should be heavy and targeted toward the weaknesses I described above. If you are not doing Max Effort work, then start

This is the best I can do given the information provided. I hope it helps.