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Doing Westside Method Naturally

Hi All,
I recently finished a 12 week golden six routine after about 1.5 years of Starting Strength. Current stats are as follows:

Height: 5’ 8"
Weight: 185lbs
Age: 27
Body Fat: Cheap weight watchers scale says 26%. But I can see my abs so I don’t know.
Squat: 405lbs 1RM
Deadlift: 405lbs 1RM (Conventional I have trouble off the floor), missed 405 last night, pulled 385
Bench: 245lbs 1RM

I’ve decided to move onto an intermediate program. I tried Texas Method last year with limited success, plus it’s hard to find 2+ hrs to do a proper volume day. I’ve recently looked at Westside method and I like the dynamic effort days because I have a tendency to lift slow (at least I think I do). However, Westside lifters and other proponents of it are notoriously on gear, which is not something I would like to do right now, maybe TRT through a doctor when I’m older. My worry is it won’t be effective since I’m natural.

Anyone have experience/tips for doing Westside Method naturally?
Also has anyone done it without bands/chains? I currently don’t own any.


I follow a conjugate program drug-free and don’t use bands or chains for accommodating resistance. Happy to answer any questions.

I would recommend 531. You have a main lift, then some other exercises to balance your program. There is a 531 for pl, just a change in weeks to 351. Way simpler to learn and can be adjusted to your needs. If you want to use bands and chains , then add them . It’s your training have fun. Gains will follow drug free, a little slower and smaller numbers. You have good #s now. Set a goal ,do the work and see in a year. 531 will get you in and out of the gym in about 1 hour.

I tried 531 for about a month a while back. Honestly I found it boring, the intensity/volume felt too low. A 531 workout felt like a rest day on Texas Method. But that’s just how it felt to me.

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What kind of exercises did you use? I’ve heard that raw lifters should focus on the bottom end of the range of motion.

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you got it all wrong, dude…

The part with the bottom portion is about geared lifting, but not in the manner of enhanced with PEDs, but in the manner of using a suit for the Squat, Bench and Deadlift.

Geared lifter = lifter who is using PEDs
Geared lifter = lifter who is using a suit on the SBD

It’s a method so it works when you are on steroids and when you are not on steroids (ofc there are different factors like recovery that play a role but in the whole of it, it’s the same).

The difference when you are benching for example is that the suit helps you with the bottom portion of the lift, so you are better off focusing on your back so you can pull the weight to you, and on your triceps, so you can lock it out. When you are a raw bencher, your chest and delts need to do more work, and your lats are more of a stabilizer, instead of a mover.

I ran 5/3/1 for a year and a half and made some really good gains on it, but stalled out eventually and grew tired of the same 'ol, same 'ol. It net me almost 400lbs total in the first year, but also some pretty major imbalances and weaknesses that assistance work alone just wasn’t addressing properly, so hence the switch to conjugate. I gained 10lbs in the first month and very little of that went to the waist. I am 6’5", normally sit at 330 and gain muscle mass with high volume really easily, so take that for what it’s worth. It’s honestly a relatively easy system to follow. Here’s a link that lays it out the easiest way to understand that I’ve came across. Good luck! The Westside Method Thread

Lots of lifters use “the dynamic method” or “speed lifts” or “CAT” without any bands or chains.

“How I built my best deadlift ever: CAT Deads” -Chad Wesley Smith

“Sam Byrd’s answer to question about raw squat progression” -Sam Byrd

If you stick to the numbers, you should have no problem with “recovery.” The reps and weights and progression are scripted to keep you on track. The idea is to “train optimally,” to stay right in the zone where you can steadily progress. Its similar to 5/3/1 that way. So it doesn’t matter if the volume “feels” to low on max effort day, or if the intensity “feels” to low on speed day. You just do the workouts, and trust in the process.

OP Clarification are we talking running Westside or using the Cojugate approach? Conjugate approach is the basic philosophy and principles that guides what they do at Westside, When you say Westside that comes down to how they implement the conjugate system . This includes their use of bands, chains exercise variations you name it. There is old saying that states that your only training Westside if your training at Westside. Now implementing the Conjugate approach for a Natural Raw guy different story.

Used the typical 90% for Tmax
Ran it as 351, jokers on 3 and 1 week then After the joker did the + set and pyramid down as + style sets always leaving a rep " in the tank" 5 week 3x5 at the 85%
Day 1 squats, GM using sst and ab, back raises
Day 2 BP , then early in meet prep DB BP later floor press
Day 3 DL then SSB squats 8x3 with chains or bands
Day 4 OHP no + sets pyramid style , CGBP 5s pro
Lots of upper back, abdominal and back raises all days .
I progressed slowly with the jokers and used the 5 s week for volume work , some weeks 3x5 some weeks just a top set of 5 and pyramid down.

Look at some of Joe DeFranco’s writings, he has some good stuff
he runs westside style of training except

a rep day for upper instead of dynamic, and dynamic lower has more athletic based things in it.

Westside has never been a exact training style, they’ve evolved into something completely different than it once was


Conjugate training is a great way to get stronger overall. I wouldn’t train ME/DE exclusively. Just don’t get too far from the competition lifts themselves.

For instance, lets say you max out on a triple on the bench one week. Maybe that same week on a different day, do some incline work for 5x5 w/ 50% of that max triple. Just hit the reps and don’t worry about the speed.

The great thing about conjugate training is the variety but don’t get too far from your base because you still need to learn the competition lifts correctly.

If you dig far enough, you’ll find Ed Coan was doing conjugate training long before it was called that and had nothing to do with speed or max work.

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Membership to Westside comes with a free gear sampler pack and year’s worth of pins - that should answer your questions

(this is a joke btw - success depends on your application)

@bulldog9899 I guess I’m talking Conjugate training since I likely won’t be using bands or chains. My main concern is that the kind of volume that is generally prescribed will be too high for me as a natural lifter. Since guys on steroids and do more with less recovery time.

What kind of reps and sets have you run in the past?

If want to reduce the chance of burnong out avoid hitting max singles and do doubles and triples on ME day

this is good for raw lifters…

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My training is almost exclusively meet prep at this point, so I will cycle up my intensity on the ME days as I get closer to the meet. I try to do most of my work with the competition lifts and then will do some partial work or specialty bar stuff as supplemental work.

For example if I am 12 weeks out I may bench up to heavy sets of 3 or 4, then work up to a max set of 3 on the floor press. If I am 4 weeks out I am most likely working up to a heavy single in the bench (my opener or 2nd attempt etc) and then doing accessory work. This way I can still peak for the meet AND work up to a max throughout the cycle.

My DE days I work in 3 week waves: 55%-65% for squats and bench, and 65%-75% for deadlift (remember no bands or chains).

What a lot of people miss is that you have to train YOUR weak points. The Westside guys do a lot of rack pulls as a max-effort movement. That doesn’t mean you have to do them. If you are weak off the floor your supplemental work could be deficit deadlifts. If your bench is weak at the bottom maybe you hit some incline press after your ME or DE work. Conjugate method is a system and will work if you apply it properly.

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Welll… im not the expert on the subject since I ran it around a year or so when I first started back into lifting after a extended period away from lifting… a few years ago. when i first ran it I just followed a beginners training manual I got from Elitefts. ( in all honesty I thing of them as the bastard child of Westside in a way) Along with some other manuals dealing it and a E book by Wendler over different Max effort approaches

The beginner template was 12 weeks long with the ME starting the lifter shooting for a top 5RM for the day for 3 weeks then 3 RM for 3 weeks and a 1 RM for 3 weeks. After that period I just shoot for 3 lifts in the 90% plus range.

I think the two things that can crush a Natty guy on this is not auto regulating on the ME days and turning them into more of a testing day than a actual training the actual attributes one is seeking by doing the Max effort in the first place.( I fell into that trap)
The other going overboard on the volume of assistance stuff…

If recovery is a major issue you can rotate the days and train 3 times a week rotating the 4 days of the Two ME and DE days. Before some one jumps me for the suggestion blame ELITEFTS because they list it as a option.

Regarding Box squat…This is just my opinion. I tend too feel if a guy is a more high bar quad dominate squatter that box squats might not be the best option. But that is just me.

Right good point that I forgot to add. I don’t box squat - and many raw squatters will tell you not to unless you are injured. I free squat for all of my ME and DE work but HAVE squatted to a high box as a supplemental move in an attempt to address a mid-range weak point.

I think box squats are ok for Raw guys if they use a low bar and have a hip dominate good morning style… if you know I mean. I know they say if your box squat should resemble your comp squat…I’ve tried it and I cant get it even close.

Brandon Lilly was basically doing a take on the Conjugate approach with the Cube and he wasn’t box squatting.

yeah I wouldn’t be all about the box squat if I where to run conjugate method, I think box squats depending on the style are good for 3 things

  1. learning to sit back into gear
  2. speed work/ athletic training
  3. using as a gauge of depth for a lifter

and thats about it if where talking about raw squat, using it as a ME moment for a week or two isn’t going to hurt anything, I would just do some kind of free weight squat after for assistance work just to get a groove again