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Old 05-10-2004, 08:20 PM   #1
Kevin Roddy
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I've heard a lot about the Westside Barbell Club style of training recently. Does anyone have any good information on the basic style or layout of the program? If it's worthwhile, I'd love to give it a try.

Thanks!
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Old 05-10-2004, 09:12 PM   #2
Joe Burks
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Go here http://www.elitefts.com/ click on the articles section and read up.

www.t-mag.com has an article with a good twist on it "westside for skinny bastards"
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Old 05-11-2004, 05:11 AM   #3
Barry Cooper
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Try www.westside-barbell.com also.
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Old 05-11-2004, 06:22 AM   #4
Steve Shafley
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Actually, one of the best introductions to Westside Style Training is the "Eight Keys" series by Dave Tate on T-Mag

Here are the links

http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/264eight.jsp
http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/265eight.jsp
http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/266eight.jsp
http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/267eight.jsp

But, read this first:
http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/288ba.jsp

The Education of a Powerlifter is very good as well.

http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/304edu.jsp
http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/305edu.jsp

Joe Burks links, listed above, will direct you to more articles about the basis of Louie Simmons and his conjugate periodization that you will probably want to read. Barry's link will take you to some PDFs that are full of articles from PLUSA.

Here are some things to remember:

Westside Beginner Mistakes:

1. Too heavy on speed days (50%-60% of 1RMS, not above)
2. Spending too many weeks on one maximum effort exercise. 3 weeks tops, even for newbies.
3. Self-diagnosis of weak points. This might not be a problem for you, but 95% of all Westside neophytes work on what they want to work on, not what they need to work on.
4. Too much GPP (this is irrelevant unless you are actually a competitive powerlifter. I can't imagine that a follower of the Crossfit WOD needs more GPP)

The conjugate periodization template that Westside uses is remarkably adaptable to damn near any application. It may take a while to see why, or it may not.

The Westside stuff that you will be reading is for the competitive powerlifts. Keep in mind that the goal is to increase your shirted bench press and suited squat. The modifications for unequipped lifting should be somewhere in that morass of information. The biggest weakness in Simmons' Westside stuff is the inability to address the improvement of the deadlift with the same efficiency as the squat and bench. This is because the deadlift will always remain a test of brute posterior chain strength, and equipment does very little to help improve it. Westside PL training takes the utmost advantage of the equipment used in UNLIMITED FEDERATIONS.
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Old 05-11-2004, 07:49 AM   #5
Brian Hand
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SDS, I agree that Westside's methods are not as effective for the deadlift, but I don't think lack of equipment is the reason. After all, they clearly improve the squat by strengthening the posterior chain; the weights they move without equipment in a variety of assistance exercises proves this.

I think the problem is, the deadlift is easier to overtrain on and their methods can't be adapted very well to the deadlift. The posterior chain improves in general but the body can't handle that much specific work on the deadlift.

I know it is almost sacrilege to speak ill of the deadlift, but I think Louie Simmons nailed it when he said the deadlift is an exercise that takes more than it gives back.
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Old 05-11-2004, 10:26 AM   #6
Dan John
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Shaf,
Great post...maybe you can find a free internet newsletter dedicated to lifting and throwing that might want to print your views and overview on Westside.

Just wondering if you knew of one.
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Old 05-11-2004, 11:33 AM   #7
Steve Shafley
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Sure Dan, I'll take this stuff and refine it a bit.

Now, onward:

If you watch the training logs on EliteFTS you will see that they are doing more pulling. A lot of it is speed pulls with bands attached to the floor (as opposed to reverse band pulls), and there is a pretty decent amount of it done while standing on some kind of platform.

I think Dave Tate was pulling ~465 with TWO sets of doubled minibands in one of his latest logs. That is a boatload of tension at the top. Now, how this will translate into deadlift gains, I couldn't tell you.

One very interesting thing is to look at the meet results between a federation like the APF and a federation like the USAPL. The deadlifts in the USAPL are much higher in relation to the squats. This is directly related to the equipment used. Some guys squatting 1000 lbs in unlimited fed are barely pulling ~650lbs in the same meet.

For some, the no-deadlift approach doesn't cut it. For others, it's a godsend. I haven't quite figured out how to tell if a lifter should pull more or not, but I think it might have something to do with the difference between a lifter's SLDL and GM (this insight was brought to you by Kip Miller of the HOUSE OF HOHO'S fame)

You'll see some interesting things coming out of Westside in the next year or so about improving the deadlift, because it's the last frontier. Once Louie Simmons turns his eclectic talent towards improving the deadlift of his club, you will be seeing some improvement. It's already started and you can see that in one of his later articles "Deadlifts on the Rise" or something on the Westside Barbell sight.

So, we get back to the issue at hand: The deadlift's effect on the CNS.

Sure, it's nice to just toss a blanket over the whole thing, and say that the deadlift is a killer on the CNS, and not pull and hope for the best. I've done this myself. In one meet I had a significant PR, in another, I regressed. Looking over my training logs, I didn't see all that much difference between the way I trained for either meet, except one was a push/pull and one was a full meet. When you look at the deadlift, and analyze the lift, it should be readily apparent that it makes a bigger dent in the CNS than an equivalent squat, and here's why:

1. The grip: You have to hold onto the deadlift with your hands. You don't think it matters? I can practically guarantee that MOST, NOT ALL, lifters can deadlift more when using straps. Don't forget your hands are the most innervated part of your body.
2. The full body aspect: The deadlift is probably the most full body, brute strength lift you can do.
3. The mental aspect: Psyching for a maximum deadlift is tiring and an ordeal. The low skill required to pull a deadlift allows a lifter to really get agitated and froth at the mouth when preparing for the max pull. You can bet that this is going to take it's toll on the CNS.

There's always a "but" though. Some lifters pull and pull and pull and don't have a problem with it. I know of one guy who pulled max deadlifts every week for a period of 2 years, and his lifts went from ~500lbs to ~800lbs. He didn't know his CNS was fried. If pulling a max deadlift every week would do that for me, I'd be hopping right on the bandwagon. This lifter suffers from OCD, and I suspect that this has a lot to do with his brute-force, straightforward plan and results.

It's all Deadlift Voodoo. What works for me doesn't work for you. What works for me one meet, doesn't work the next. It's hard, brutal labor that often doesn't pay off. The deadlift is a harsh mistress.

I don't like pulling all that often. It's hard. It's painful. My deadlift fluctuates grotesquely with my levels of arousal. I have been experimenting with pulling more frequently, and it has started to level the lift out. I am finding that around every other week I should throw a pulling variation into the mix. This could be a pull standing on a platform, or a pull form knee height (these seem to be the most prevalent sticking points)

One week of low box squatting and one week of a deadlift variation is how it's starting to look on ME days for me. I have been saving the GM for repetition assistance work, since I've found it's a stagnant ME lift for me.

Long post.
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Old 05-11-2004, 11:47 AM   #8
Steve Shafley
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Just for fun:

This is the Westside recommended program for deadlifting

Week 1 - 15 singles @ 65%
Week 2 - 12 singles @ 70%
Week 3 - 10 singles @ 75%
Week 4 - 8 singles @ 80%
Week 5 - 6 singles @ 85%

Kip Miller swears by this, and says it's worked for him every time he uses it. He also says it works really well using the reverse band deadlift instead of regular deads (you hand the bar on some jumpstretch bands so it deloads as you get higher)

Incidentally, the reverse band deadlift is a pretty good predictor of my meet deadlift.
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Old 05-11-2004, 12:07 PM   #9
Brian Hand
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SDS, excellent points. WHat do you think about these additions:

(4) The deadlift starts from a dead stop. There is no using the stretch reflex and no negative to set up a good groove. Try bottom position squats from rack pins to help appreciate the difference.

(5) It is much, much harder to stabilize the spine in the deadlift, mainly because of (1) above. The pull on the arms rounds the upper spine forward. Also the reverse grip is twisting your spine a little. You might not notice it with medium weights but I sure do with heavy weights.

(6)There isn't a lot of variety in specific assistance work. You can pull on blocks, you can pull on pins, etc. but that isn't much of a break. It just seems like there are more assistance exercises to mess with for the squat and bench.

I do not deadlift any more; I am relying on the quick lifts to ensure adequate strength. It is not the same, but my time and energy is finite. (I don't compete any more.)

For the life of me I can't figure out what the key quality is that makes some otherwise ordinary guys such good deadlifters. It's more than just long arms and a strong back. It is very funny you mentioned that one talnted deadlifter you know. Now that I think of it many of the better deadlifters I have known were really high strung. :crazy:
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Old 05-11-2004, 12:44 PM   #10
Steve Shafley
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Great points.

Addressing (4): Bottom position work is an excellent choice for ME work or assistance work. One of my favorite lifts to help the deadlift is the bottom position start zercher squat. This is a painful lift, but very effective for helping maintain the stability of the "core" during the deadlift. Bottom position GMs also seemed to help much more than regular GMs. Bottom position work seems to jar my spine and joints more than regular work.

Addressing (5): I think isometrics at the bottom position and at the "critical joint configuration" (a term used by DB Hammer) might help, but haven't gotten to experiment with them yet. The CJC for the deadlift is supposedly around knee level. The recommendations for these types of isometrics don't involve pulling against a immovable bar, but rather lowering the bar to the proper position and holding it there for a specified amount of time.

In addition, heavy, and I mean bodyweight or greater, side bends or isometric suitcase deadlift holds, or one handed farmers walks, or suitcase deadlifts might assist here too.

The spinal twisting seems to effect some, but not all people. I don't notice it. It's a very big deal to a friend of mine, who took a year to learn to hook grip his deadlifts like Gillingham.

Addressing(6) Very true. Finding exercises to plug into the conjugate periodization model for deadlifts is hard to do. They almost all involve pulling and having the bar in your hands, which might not be different enough to really matter.

I like the quick lifts. I plan on doing an OL meet within the next year or so. I have always wanted to try Bill Starr's deadlift routine, which consists mostly of the quick lifts.

Like I said, Voodoo Deadlifting. I am still trying to stumble onto something that works and works consistently, or at least as consistently as Westside works for the bench and squat.
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