I have a lot of opinions here, because im pretty much a begginer; depending on who you talk to, and Westside is my favorite method to use.
Well first off. If your asking for YOU, or how I would train a beginner that may be different. You didn’t mention anything as to your history, so we’ll assume you are a beginner at the moment.
Ideally, a brand new beginner with NO weight training experience would start out with Rippetoe. Its high frequency and will teach them the lifts quickly, while getting their strength moving upwards. You could stay on Rippetoe’s for a couple of months, or possibly up to 8 months or a year. There is a whole discussion on the starting strength wiki that talks about knowing when to switch things up. Based on what I get from Rippetoe’s being a begginer, intermediate, or advanced has very little to do with strength; because everyone is different, but more has to do with how you are recovering from the starting strength workouts. So thats pretty subjective, but the FAQ over there gives a pretty clear guideline as to when you should move on.
As for what a beginner is, like I said, the opinions on this are going to vary. Some will say bench 1.5xbw, squat 2xbw, and deadlift 2xbw. While others will say something much lower or higher. If you look at that Westside article, it looks like Louie is saying that George Halbert was a beginner when he came to them benching 475. A beginner strength trainer, may be very different than a beginner Pl’er. The main thing is that it doesn’t matter, and I think thats what Louie is tryiing to get across with that article.
ANY program can work for the newest beginner, or the most advanced elite lifter. Yes, I said ANY. The thing is, depending on that person there is going to be a certain amount of customization needed to meet the lifter’s needs. I guarantee you some guys at westside could trained with a highly modified Rippetoe program and make great gains. It would probably end up looking a lot like westside, but you get the point.
So thats pretty much my thoughts on different systems for beginners vs. advanced.
Here’s my opinion on Westside for beginners. Depending on your current status, Rippetoe may be better. BUT, if you are going to train and eventually be using Westside, why not just start now. Your results may be a bit slower initially, but you’ll be gaining experience in using the system.
A lot of people that dont really know what they are talking about, will tell you that as a beginner you dont need to do speed work. This is a big mistake. Keep the speed work. You may want to go a bit heavier if you are RAW, and even a bit heavier if your max strength isn’t very high. You gotta figure out what works for you, but pretty much anything 50-80% is an option. The main thing with speed work, is that you must intend to move the weight fast, must practice perfect form, shouldn’t be anywhere remotely near failure, use short rest breaks, so that there is some fatigue by your last few sets.
ME work should be done pretty similar to how westside suggests, but you’ll probably need more volume, since your strength will be low. I didn’t do this my first couple of times with westside, but am starting to do this now. This is the way it was described to me. “A very strong lifter can build up to a max deadlift of 800lbs and be completely shot. They wont be even thinking of deadlifting again for the next couple of weeks. And a beginner can build up to a max deadlift of 400, rest a few minutes and then repeat it again.” So for me, i’ll be doing mainly singles and doulbes at around 90% and shooting for 9-12 reps total most of the time. But others will suggest just using a 3RM or 5RM and doing it the westside way. This didn’t work for me, but feel free to give it a shot.
I’d probably rotate your exercises far less often than westside suggests. At the moment, I have no planned rotation for main lifts. I’ll be squatting on all DE and ME days for lower, and i’ll be BB benching on all ME and DE days for upper. If I do need to do any rotation, i’ll probably switch to front squat, and incline or decline bench.
Accessory work. I think this is pretty individual, because WS4SB has a lot of accessory work, but I found that I put too much emphasis on accessory work and not enough on the main lifts. Remember though, WS4SB isn’t designed to just get you strong at bench,squat,deadlift. Its a program to prepare athletes so thats probably why there is so much accessory work. So for me, other than the main lifts each day, 2-3 other exercises maybe 4 if they are for smaller muscles. And the number of sets will start lower around 3, and possibly go up to 5.
Bands/chains - You’ll be tempted to use chains/bands early on as I was, and this is entirely up to you. I have found a big advantage to using them on DE days occasionally, because it allows me to fully accelerate the weight. Other than this, I dont see much need for using bands or chains early on.
Box Squat, and squatting in general - This may be debatable, but if you are going to go RAW, you’ll need to train a bit differently than the westside guys. Box squats are good either way, but the Westside guys place emphasis on keeping the shins perpendicular to the ground and pushing your hips back. For a raw lifter, you are going to need to build and rely on quad strength, so the hips dont need to be pushed back as far.
As a lot of people will say, as a beginner you probably dont have any weak spots, everything is weak. This means that you should for the most part build up everything equally. I will say though, I think there are a lot of advantages to putting extra emphasis on triceps, front/rear delts, traps, lats, glutes, and hamstrings. Or basically you probably dont need to put too much emphasis on chest, biceps, and quads. But this is up to you. You likely also wont need the lockout work and board pressing that westsiders use, and will probably need more work on strength off the chest, and the bottom of the squat.
Thats should be enough to get things started. And im sure its going to be a debate, not a discussion.
Good luck with everything.