T Nation

Got any Westside Style Training Tips?


For those lifters who have trained using Westside style training methods for an extended period of time, what are some things that you think a lot of people do not understand about the westside style / things you wished you figured out sooner / modifications you have made etc...

I know the basics of WS style training are pretty cut and dry, but Louie is sometimes hard to understand and I was wondering if people have figured some things out about Westside training that I might have missed.

Thanks for your input (but keep your "You have to train at WS to do WS" stuff to yourself, it is a training template/style that a lot of guys have used and had success with without being in the actual Westside gym, and I would like to hear from them.)


I'm just a normal dude so this advice is what I do. You won't find my name in the top 100 220# Powerlifters but then again there aren't many folks on here who could say that either.So having said that here's what I changed up.
My modifications was to do a repetition day, usually a 5-8 rep target, on Sunday instead of D.E. benching. (After a couple of months or so of doing D.E. benching I felt as if I got all I could out of it. I had learned to 'fire my muscle all at once', at least as best I could... Now I do D.E. stuff on de-load weeks, every 4th week, to stay fast)

My Max Effort bench day has an emphasis on the upper 2/3 of my bench stroke meaning 3-4-5 board presses and reverse band benches. Something I have done to save my 37 yo shoulders is to do a lot of "manpon" presses. Not bringing the bar down that last inch or two to the chest has done wonders for me as far as not feeling beat up all the time. Hey, I'm not 21 any more lol...

Squat day is pretty standard fare for me.


Here are a few things I had to figure out:
1) Don't get too psyched up for ME day. I got burnt out very quickly by getting all fired up like I was at a meet every ME day. Learn the difference between a training max and competition max.
2) Keep ME exercise rotations to no more than 4-6 exercises. When I was doing a million different exercises it was hard to tell what was working and what wasn't.
3) Don't go too heavy on DE day. You don't want to be going heavy 4 days a week.
4) Work up on the competition SQ occasionally. Just doing DE SQ work and not doing regular squats on ME day left me uncomfortable with heavy squats at meets.
5) Keep everything relatively light on DE, even the assistance stuff. Doing heavy lockout work on my DE BP day was too hard on the shoulders and left me beat up on ME day.


Good advise thanks.


What do you guys like to do as your second exercise on upper body days? Heavy triceps stuff like board work with relatively higher reps (5-8), and for how many sets? How much work with the general bench stroke have you guys found to be too much? I am at school and I don't have boards or a place to do floor presses so I feel like doing a second full range of motion press is a little too much on my shoulders.

Also, I have found recently that my lats get a lot of work in every training session and accumulate a ton of fatigue. I have adjusted my back work on upper body days to reduce the overall stress a bit. Has anyone else had this?


Deload every 4-6 weeks


Does your school have a foam roller? If so, that's about the same height as a 3-board if you don't sink the bar in too deep. Pressing off of the full foam roller makes for a pretty good supplemental pressing exercise.

Depending on the set-up of the gym, you can also floor press fairly easily. Let the j-hooks in the power rack as far down as they will go, and you may be able to it that way. Another less safe option (get a spotter) is to balance the bar on the edge of a bench, lie on the floor, unrack it off the bench and press that way.


You can get a set of YOGA blocks at Walmart for $10-$12. They both are 3" thick and can go right under your tee shirt. That's like doing a 2 board press, which will help your shoulders from getting too beat up.

Dumbbell floor presses are pretty good too, maybe not as effective as a regular floor press but a tool in the tool box for sure.. Do you have a smith machine? If so get under it and do floor presses. You can really press some weights because you don't have to worry about stabilizing the bar. Worse case lay in the floor with an empty bar and see how high the bar is off your chest at the bottom. For me it's about 3". Then just do regular benches but stop 3" high. My 2 bd and floor press numbers run about 5 lbs of each other anyway...



Thanks, those are some good ideas. I foam roller board press is sure to get me a couple more WTF? looks , but I need that variety regardless


I'm a huge fan of the system. It's what my gym uses. That said, I don't think it's a great idea for people that train alone. It's meant to be done with a team. You need spotters to max safely. Maxing out in a group only motivates you to push harder. Since you can't watch yourself lift, you need someone knowledgeable watching to identify your weaknesses. If you don't have a group to train with, then start building one because it'll be the best thing you'll do for your training.

Then you just need to be honest with yourself about your weak points. You can't really go wrong with hamstrings, lats, and triceps. That's been pretty universal in everyone that's joined the gym.


The rotating ME lifts are fun and make you stronger, but it is technique that will rule the day. I found that just doing straight bar squats on my DE days is not enough- either I needed to go heavy only DE days or I needed to squat with a straight bar on ME day. For a shirted bencher, shirt work should be a significant part of your ME bench plan. Depending on how well you know your shirt of how far out you are from a meet, you can play around with this, but would count on around 1 week ou tof every two or three ought to be shirted.

I train very westside-ish now. But I don't box squat. For me, box squatting hasn't worked out well in the risk/reward equation in the last couple years. In spite of that, my squat is comign along just fine. If you do use a box extensively, do some of your sessions without a box. Box squatting can be very productive, but the groove/technique is different than for free squats.


SRS...about your #1 . care to elaborate further ?
I sometimes think I put too much emphasis on this .

WildIron.......Ive noticed similar posts about "group" training when using WS/conjugate templates . that stance would be true regardless of the system...no ? (not doubting....just asking)

squatting against bands took it's toll on me pretty quick (hips/low,low back);same thing happened when benching with them at first . but that second lower body day did wonders for me from a recovery standpoint . next 2 DE cycles will be box squat against bands , but lighter than recomended....more for hamstring/glute recovery .


For training purposes I think you should generally work up to a non-psych max on ME day. Of course you have to focus and get mentally prepared, but try not to use up too much emotional energy. In other words, you shouldn't have to get the music on just the right song, then pace around for a couple minutes talking to yourself, then have your training partner light a huge fire under you to make a particular weight. Save that stuff for the meet. I used to get too fired up on ME days and would burn out rather quickly. If you get jacked up out of your mind and barely make a lift today and then do that several weeks in a row, you will reach a point where you just can't summon up that much intensity anymore. If you have a long stretch of training between meets and want to really test your max on one of the competition lifts in training, that's OK, but don't go insane every week. Of course everyone will have a little different tolerance in this area, but always leave a little something extra for a meet. Your meet numbers should be better than your training numbers, so if you are consistently lifting more in training than you can in meets, you need to examine what the problem is. I've seen guys go crazy in training and hit big numbers, then under-perform at the meet because they are burnt out and beat up going into the meet.



I have noticed this actually ; thats why I asked about it . for some reason , I can bring up an incredible energy dump (adrenalin perhaps?) when pulling . but when squatting , it doesnt come so easy ; but I still try like hell to get that mindset . but after a few weeks of this , I got absolutely nothing and I cant squat worth a shit . gotta accept the deload .

looking back , I had a very difficult time bringing up that rage (for lack of a better description) when I first started training . my training partner would bitch like hell about it , but I just couldnt do it (probably too mild-mannered/non-aggressive) . I started to focus on learning it , and have gotten better at it ; but maybe I need to dial it back a bit now .


I always get way more jacked up when deadlifting than I do squatting. I think it's mainly because the squat is more technical and I end up screwing up my technique if I get too jacked up. Keep in mind that everyone gets mentally ready differently. Some people are really loud and animated and others seem relatively calm and then go out and kill the weight. My natural personality sounds much like yours and trying to get all jacked up takes alot out of me. That's why I save most of it for meets. Again, I would recommend saving the really big psych up for meets or for training lifts that are very, very important (i.e. no more than once every few months).
For training, the most that I'll do is stop and focus for ten seconds or so, take a couple deep breaths, and then set up and go.


Do any of you guys like triceps extensions (any type) for your supplemental work? I really have never felt like I get anything out of them as far as my bench press strength is concerned; I just feel like I am wasting my time. Has anyone felt that an increase in some type of extension really carried over well to their bench? Should I just be trying to force a bunch of blood into my triceps and have them aid more in recovery rather than looking for specific carryover?


Yeah, it probably is true for almost any sport really. How many top athletes in any sport practice alone with no coaching? I'm not sure why people are so stubborn about lifting not requiring coaching.


Pinto, how often do you do the free squatting for your ME work? I am considering making my ME exercises just variations of the free squat (band-lightened, suited, etc) and was wondering what you do.




my current favorite is narrow grip 2 brd and 3 brd ....2 to 4 sets in the same rep range as the ME lift . sometimes I move it to DE day in place of pressing against bands , but then Ill work it for more sets .

my lats dont get over-stressed , but my lower back seems to get hit hard ever since I started focusing on a tighter bench set up . and something in the left pec/collar bone area screams from benching and squatting (kinda wish I had a safety squat bar).