T Nation

Looking for Westside Template


Or any other suggestion to put up my OHP, bench and squat other than 5 3 1 or 5x5


Westside should be suited to your needs, so you can bring up your weak points. I think you should read alot about it, and then try to make your own template. I've been training Westside for the last two months, and it has done wonders for my lifts. But I'm still not sure if I fully understand how to do it correctly.

Good luck!


Oh ok thanks! Are you using different ME lifts every week and maxing to 1-3 reps? And also if i make my own could i put 2 back exercises on ME day? I feel upper back realy helps with my bench


Opinions vary about switching ME lifts every week. If you are technically sound then switch away, if not then maybe stick with one for 2 to 3 weeks at a time.

You're cracking me up with this...

Of course you can! One of the main points of a westside approach is to do what works. You have to choose your assistance work to make your other lifts most effective. Have fun with it and something to think about... if you suck at a particular useful assistance exercise it might be the right one to do (assuming it attacks your weak point in your main lifts).


Im glad im entertaining you lol im more aware of 5x5 training, not so much westside, hence why i have different questions. You never actually do a regular bench, squat or deadlift for ME do you? Only variations?


On occasion I do, but not often.


You on the program are you? How do you find it?? What about size gains?


The Westside Method isn't so much a training template like you'd see with 5/3/1 as much as it's a set of rules to apply to your training. Technically it isn't even the invention of Louie Simmons, much of it is from the former Soviet Union, Bulgaria etc.

I skimmed over what Wendler wrote and it appears to be a pretty good writeup.

-Dynamic Bench / speed bench / bench by percents / explosive training
-Maximum Effort Squat/Deadlift/Goodmorning
-Maximum Effort Bench
-Dynamic Squat/Deadlift

Dynamic Work
If you read through all of the Westside Articles and Louie's book, you'll see that the dynamic percentages have changed over the years. He talks about waving the percentages each week...I'm a little skeptical of whether this is worthwhile or not and for a beginner I wouldn't even bother. Furthermore I wouldn't worry so much about the percentages as much as the bar speed and keeping form.

If you've never done dynamic training before, there's a good chance that you're not very explosive, so if they are calling for 60% of your max and your bar speed is slow, you need to lower the weight. In my bastardized version of this methodology, I simply look at bar speed as an indicator. If the bar is moving too slow, weight needs to come off, if it's moving pretty fast, let's put some weight on.

SUPPOSEDLY if you're doing a triple for the bench or a double for the squat, the length of time to complete those reps should EQUAL the amount of time it takes you to do a full 100% squat or bench. My recommendation, watch some videos of some real dynamic work being done and get an idea of how fast the bar should be moving.

Maximum Effort Work
I was talking to Mike Ruggiera several years back on a pretty frequent basis and he had said that most everyone at Westside was switching their maximum effort exercises WEEKLY. We both agreed that this could be confusing to a beginner and figured sticking with a ME exercise for 2-3 weeks is good for a first-timer. Why? The THEORY of the ME work is that these special exercises carryover to a conventional lift.

So, instead of doing a flat bench press, you're doing a floor press. If your floor press increases, your flat bench increases (note: this is assuming that the floor press is a special exercise that you would benefit from).

For quite a few people, some of these special exercises are NEW TERRITORY. You're not going to have a MAX and to complicate things, no offense to anyone but there's alot of guys that don't know what 90%-100%+ intensity really is.

So in Week 1 you do a floor press (for example). You're probably not going to be super coordinated with this exercise, you might not even hit a true 100% max with this exercise but you give it your best. Week 2 you try to beat it and you can either move onto a new exercise in Week 3 or stick with floor presses for 1 more week.

I think that this approach really helps a beginner to start filling up their logbooks with maxes for the special exercises and it gives them a chance to wrap their head around how this training is supposed to work.

Furthermore, you need to begin to identify your weaknesses and find out what ME special exercises work for you. If you're switching every week, how are you going to know whether floor presses or 2 board presses helped you more? (just as an example).

The rest of the system is pretty simple...SMASH FUCKING WEIGHTS and destroy the supporting muscle groups.
If it's a bench day you're going to want to hit your delts, triceps and lats...you can throw in some biceps if you want. If it's a squat day you want to hit your posterior chain.

I hope this helps you. I know first-hand how convoluted some of these "templates" can be. I started reading Louie's articles back in the mid-90's and I had a guy who was good friends with Angelo Berardenelli who frequented Westside helping me along the way.

I chatted with Louie on the phone a few times and made the trip to Westside to gain better insight into things...and honestly, I believe it to be one of the best systems available to gain strength, the BIGGEST PROBLEMS with this approach is knowing where you need to improve and knowing your indicator exercises...which, if you're not around people who know this shit, you could have a tough time figuring out on your own.



Thanks mate, a lot of help. Ive done floor presses before so i should be alright with form and that, just getting as much info on the actual program and going from there. If i dont have boards, can rack lockouts at different heights be sufficient?


I started with the template someone showed you above. Then read all the stuff on Louie's Westside Barbell website. I also got a copy of the Westside book of methods. Then engaged my brain and the brains of those I train with to figure out how best to apply it. Look at my training log and you'll see the evolution of this. I started something westsidish in December of last year.


You are getting some great advice here. More thorough than mine.

2x4s and 2x6s are cheap. Make a day of it and make some boards. Buy or borrow a handsaw, screwdriver (or hammer and nails), maybe some glue, and screws and have at it. Rack lockouts can work, but if the bar isn't totally flat you'll get it bouncing off one side before the other (unless you were intending only concentric presses). Go read all the stuff on Louie's site!


Oh sorry, size gains... I've put on about 10 pounds or so since I started it 5 months... I haven't been really trying to gain in a dedicated fashion though.


This is all really good, i might have to make my own. Im reading blogs on the site now, why do most of them do hammer curls at the end of their bench workouts? How does this apply to benching? Also can wide grip pull ups be used as a upper back movement? Or does it have to be a lat pulldown


I think you can answer the pull-up question yourself (as they are more or less the same movement or can be made so with form tweaks). Curls are so the elbows stay feeling good (think muscle balance on flexion and extension of the elbow).


Don't forget the wrist, forearms, and avoiding biceps tendonitus from deadlifting.


There is a lot of conflicting info on here and it seems like a lot of overcomplication on very simple concepts. I will lay it out to you as I understand it (which is pretty good because I am pretty sure I am the only one on here with the westside certification to my name).

A lot of people say to drop dynamic efforts for various reasons. This is not smart. I feel dynamic efforts are the most important aspect of the whole westside system. This is the only time you have to work on form in the main lifts and is the only way you can keep track of gains (via total work completed). Once you figure it out, you can predict what you are capable of at a meet based on what you did on your dynamic day. Thats a little to complicated for a beginner. Anyway, here is exactly what you are going to do:

Dynamic Speed Squats:

Week 1: 50% bar weight plus 25% band tension for 12 sets of 2 reps w/45s rest between sets
Week 2: 55% bar weight and then the same as above
Week 3: 60% bar weight, 25% band tension, 10 sets of 2 reps
Week 4: 50% bar weight, no bands, 6 sets of 2 reps (deload week)

When you get done with those go straight to Dynamic Deadlifts:

50% bar weight for 10 singles. Do this everyweek. Change the band tension, chain combination, or both every week. Week 4 is just straight bar weight for 5 singles

Next up pick 3 exercises that work points/muscles that fail first when you are near maximal weights. Those are your weaknesses so work the shit out of them. Advice Louie told me about sets and reps, do as much as you feel you need to do. I would suggest 5-6 sets of 10-20 on general exercises (GHRs, Hamstring Curls, Back Ext., whatever else) and 4-5 sets of 3-8 for specific exercises (Rack Pulls, Good Mornings, Pause Squats, basically anything done with a barbell).

After that, train abs. Very Very heavy. Stuff like leg raises with added weight, front squat holds for 5, 8, and 10 second max's, fallouts with balst straps, or the god awful ab wheel.

For Dynamic Bench:

Always use 40% for 12 sets of 3 reps. Change the bar, bands, chains, whatever else you can switch up, every weeks. Same rules apply for assistance work.

These dynamic days should go pretty quick. Try to be done all of the main work in about 45mins.

Max Effort Lower/Upper:

Here is the fun part. Pick an exercise, work up to the heaviest weight you are capable of on that day for a single, then go do assitance work. It is not more complicated than that. Switch the exercise every week.

There are other programming aspects like how to seperate the actual phases of the system for optimal results but, you dont need to worry about those when you are just starting out.

Let me know if you have any questions and I should be able to answer them. Hope this helped.


I hope I'm not derailing, but how come Westside only has people practice the main lifts on DE days? I feel that my squat form is the most glaring weakness in my squat and I know one of the core principles of Westside is to work your weaknesses. Wouldn't it make sense to do more of my comp squat for like 10x5 or 10x3 at a manageable weight to lock in proper form or are there better ways to get more squat form practice in?


  1. So you don't burn out your CNS performing the same lift heavily over and over.
  2. Full range movements put your joints at a higher risk for injury (specifically your shoulders).
  3. Restricted range movements allow you to train your sticking point directly.

If you are in gear you don't need to train the full range too often because the gear will help you in certain portions of the lift. Training full range to use gear just places unnecessary wear and tear on your joints.

Personally, I believe that if you are training raw, you should be using full range variations more often then partial movements.


This was really good. Really confusing when different people say different things. Im still readong the blogs and articles on the westside site to get as much info as i can. Ive got the ME days figured out but the percentages and that for dynamic day and the things that get me confused. Can progress still be made without bands on dynamic day?


Yes. You don't need chains or bands to do dynamic work. Worry less about the specific percentage and more about keeping the bar moving quickly. Use the percentages as a basis for where you should be aiming for, sometimes you can go a little higher and still keep it moving quickly.