1) Technically, I believe what Louie Simmons refers to as the Conjugate Method is simply the method of rotating special ME excercises, not his entire system of periodization.
The conjugate method is the answer. This is a complex method of rotating special exercises that are close in nature, in our case, to the powerlifts.
The Russians and Bulgarians used this method up until the mid 80s, but apparently abandoned for a simple approach involving only A)Squats for strength and B) The classic full clean, snatch and if needed a press-but with LOTS of lighter work-thousands of leg raises, hundreds of back extensions-but not for maximal weights. I think this shift occured because they were selecting OLers very young and were getting guys who were so ideally built for the classic lifts that the other lifts became unimportant.
2) I think that these intensive squat routines are a joke. I think they produce short term neural drive such as fully activating the hips and tightening the core. I think you can get the results of the Smolov routine with one week of intensive work or even 2 days straight of squatting-say 10 x 3 at 80% one workout, 10 x 3 with 10-15 pounds more, and 10 x 3 with another 10-15 pounds more, then take a couple days off and hit a max, but I think this would work only once maybe in a six month period.
3) The lasting Russian research is that you have to cycle loads of 70-90%, with 70% being ideal to reset neuromuscular firing rates, 80% to maintain strength and 90% to go to the next level.
3) I have considered that the "cycling of special exercises" works not because you can push 100% all the time, but because YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH in the new exercise to kill yourself for two to three week. then you get good enough and have to switch so you don't overreach. No research has shown that a true max effort builds strength at all, but tons have shown that 3-10 total reps at 90% DO! I have seen people go from 500 to 600 in 2 weeks in say a certain height of rack pull. They were not efficient enough to push 100% of their true capacity from the first week-and yet they got stronger.
4) I think that approaching overtraining and then cutting back is critical to long term improvement, but I think that most people may begin with 3-4 weeks of increasing volume and 3-4 weeks of cut back, but by the time they are pretty stong, these time frames drop to 1-2 weeks each. the Russians actually had their guys building volume for only 3-4 days followed by 3-4 days cut back. I have also found that despite this pattern working for long term improvement, I was always STRONGEST about 1 week after I had bumped the volume BACK UP AGAIN.
5) I think the key with Westside is short cycles, and a cycling of lighter loads 50-70% to restore the neuromuscular firing rate. 13 week cycles don't work if you start with high volume and gradually reduce. You lose your power and you loose your special strengths withing 2-3 weeks.