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Conjugate Training: Bands/Chains? Speed Work for Raw Lifters?

Who here has used/currently uses conjugate training?

I’ve always been interested in it because the results speak for themselves, but the whole program seems confusing. I understand the premise of rotating exercises and performing the classical lifts in 3 week pendulum waves, but what about all the bands, chains, weight releasers, etc. etc.? How do you keep up with it all?

Also, while I’m certainly not debating Louie on this issue, but how does speed work for the bench carry over for a raw lifter? Obviously speed is necessary to lift very heavy weights, however, a touch-and-go through all of training wouldn’t be beneficial to raw competition due to the pause. In equipped lifting, they literally have to touch once the “press” command is given to get the rebound from the shirt.

Don’t most shirts have a bubble that you work in, rather than a stretchy rebound? That sounds more like a slingshot you are talking about.

Are you wanting to discuss conjugate or the westside barbell method in particular?

Well I have a slingshot, I guess I always assumed it was a stretchy rebound from a shirt, just a more aggressive one due to the weight being used. I guess I’m not really sure, as I’ve only observed, never actually used a shirt.

I wanted to try conjugate training this time around when the gym opens on Monday, but I’m not sure how to go about it in terms of how to set up the classical lifts between DE/ME, bands and chains, and what accessory work is needed.

You owe it to yourself to read through this

@StormTheBeach is still around and has a TON of knowledge on Westside, particularly for raw lifters.

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Thank you sir.

Used it for a while back in 2017 (if I remember correctly).It worked greatly.Take this with a grain of salt, since I was never incredibly strong, but conjugate as westside barbell does it is as simple as:

Max effort: Pick a variation and work up to a grinder.Goal is to get familiar with soul-crushing weights on your hands/back.If you’re not going to compete soon you can get a bit crazy with the variations.Imo it is more about being range of motion specific.For the bench for example, a close grip with light bands will have you grinding with your elbows starting from behind and moving the bar approximately the same distance as you would in a competition.A high pin press will not

Dynamic effort: Practice the lift without fatiguing yourself too much

Repetition effort:Build muscle where it counts.More specifically, start with the main movers, go to supporting muscle groups, finish with whatever will keep you healthy

Again, with a grain of salt

Competition bench presses are not paused. The press command is to be given when the bar has touched the chest and all movement has ceased. So realistically you don’t need to practice a “pause” except for once in a while.

Speed benches aren’t touch and go, they are controlled explosive benching. Just because it’s “fast” doesn’t mean it should be loose. Getting down quickly while staying tight is paramount, otherwise you should probably just do Repetition Effort instead of Dynamic.

There is no rebound from a bench shirt, it’s only trying to return to it’s original shape. What I mean by that is a shirt in itself doesn’t act like a slingshot/rubber band. You can feel a slingshot being reactive, a bench shirt really just wants to throw a weight into your face.

As for the question of

but what about all the bands, chains, weight releasers, etc. etc.? How do you keep up with it all?

A notebook works well, then again you don’t even need to use that stuff if you don’t want to. You can get by without it, it’s just a tool.

As @T3hPwnisher said, check out Storm’s stuff.

Regarding speed work, Louie does advocate fast, overspeed eccentrics. However, you have to consider that he and all the other lifters are watching each other like hawks, making sure positioning and form are maintained 100%. I have found that too much focus on speed in the eccentric can cause a lifter to get loose on the way down, which throws everything off on the concentric, so for a lifter trying conjugate training (specifically, dynamic effort method) for the first time, I would recommend putting an emphasis on controlling the weight and building tension on the eccentric, and focusing on speed and explosiveness on the concentric only. As you develop more understanding and skill, you will find yourself able to move quicker on the eccentric while maintaining tightness and form.

As for bands/chains/weight releasers/ etc… I would recommend to just start with fairly light bands, maybe only 10-15% tension (as opposed to the 20-25% generally recommended) until you feel you really understand their function. Then start, one at a time, experimenting with different things.

One of the main functions of bands that I feel gets overlooked a lot is that they allow you to push with 100% force into submaximal weight without your form going to shit. Consider this… if you squat an empty barbell as fast and hard as possible, it will jump up off your back. If you squat a broomstick with bands attached to it, so that the band tension at the top is the same as the weight of an empty barbell, it won’t jump off your back. Normally, if you’re squatting <70% you have to throttle back how much force you put into the bar each rep, because otherwise it will move to fast and bounce around. So basically, you teach yourself to not put 100% force into the bar, which is a terrible thing to practice for powerlifting. With bands, you can still put 100% force into the bar even at submax loads, so you reinforce the habits you want to carry over to the platform.

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It’s worth mentioning that he went to IPF raw worlds while using the conjugate method. He won a gold medal for the deadlift and I believe came in 3rd in the 120kg class. He’s living proof that it can work for raw lifters, the main thing is to set it up properly and that can be a problem.

That’s the issue in a nutshell. I’m far from being an expert, but what I hear time and again is that something just gets lost in translation between Louie’s gym and your own gym. I’ve not tried it myself, but I know several who have (talking competitive PLers here, not gymbros); all came away feeling like they must have done something wrong because they didn’t see gains in their 3 lifts.

My sense from reading online about others’ experiences is that this is not an uncommon problem. Obviously Louie has found a formula that works extremely well for himself and his pupils, but something about Westside just seems not to travel as well as say, Sheiko, 5/3/1, etc. Or maybe the key drivers of Louie’s success just aren’t being fully captured in the programs that are widely disseminated. Not talking about drugs here; I know the drugs are everywhere. Maybe it’s the tight-knit culture, constant cueing, psychological dynamics; who knows.

Too much focus on ME work, too many variations and not properly implementing speed work and recovery are usually the problems.

The constant cueing and having someone else trying to kill you is also a huge part of any program.

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In general you see people doing too many partial lifts with short ROMs, making the lift easier so they can use more weight. Instead it’s important to figure out how to make the Max Effort moves harder, go over longer ROM or take more time than “classical lifts.”

More specifically lots of people mess up the volume on ME days. Like taking stupid big jumps up, to miss lifts by 30-40 pounds and not get the 3 lifts above 90% they’re supposed to get. Then they do some stupid back off sets and do too much light work on ME day.

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A lot of good information in this thread and the other one I was referred to. Thank you!

It appears that gyms will reopen in NYS in another 3-4 weeks, grrrr. I am so depressed. I have literally lost all motivation to keep up home workouts that are only bodyweight. Keeping the diet in check is the only constant I have right now.

At least I have a shitload of conjugate knowledge to implement once I can train again.

What I got from reading stormthebeach’s posts is that you have to take the general principles that Louie talks about and adapt it to your own situation. Westside is all about multi-ply lifting, the system can work for raw lifters but you can’t follow Louie word for word. Like if you squat with a narrow stance and all your squats in training are wide stance box squats, you can expect to have some issues. Or too much partials and accomodating resistance on ME exercises, you’re going to get weak at the bottom of your squat and bench.

Matt Wenning also set raw records and benched 600+ training conjugate, I haven’t been following him but he was putting out a bunch of info and had a few DVDs, worth looking into.

That certainly wouldn’t hurt.

The fact is that you don’t need a complicated system to train and make gains, Westside/conjugate can work but not necessarily better than other more simple methods. One of the main benefits is that you get more variety in training if that helps keep you motivated, but you need to have a solid understanding of how to make it work to get anywhere. This is why there are so many stories of people who made zero progress or got weaker, they weren’t doing things the right way.

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I train with Larry Pacifico doing 5/3/1 and just looking at their method it seems to be for gear lifters but I’ve not tried that method yet myself. I’m actually looking into it and seeing what benefits I can get from it if I do if not I’ll stick to my norm.

I do band work on squats but haven’t done speed pulls or chains yet but have heard it’s very beneficial. So I’d say try it out if you can understand it. I’m always open to new advice and methods to try and get the most from my body doing raw modern ( wraps and belt ).