New, Help Me Make a Competitive Run in Powerlifting

I want to make a competitve run in PowerLifting. A few months ago I started working with Wendler’s 531 Program. But now I need help transitioning into Westside Barbell Program (I hear its #1 for PL)

My numbers are weird and ugly…

Bench Max 330

Squat Max 350

DL Max 375

  • My gym has no chains
  • My gym does have bands, but no duplicates

Can you help build me a workout template following the Westside Barbell Program ?

Many Thanks !

Westside is shite (flame on). What’s was wrong with 5/3/1? Did you stop progressing on that?

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This below works great(giant sets optional/up to you). Also has a log under the name Alpha in training log section if want to ask some basic questions or even hire him to write a customised template…

you dont need band and chains, but buying a pair of light bands is a good idea.

look up Dave Tates Iron evolution’ article series on T-Nation part of site

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Stick with 5/3/1. I’m a westside style lifter (mostly) but you’re right. Your numbers are shite so why switch? Are you a geared lifter if raw?

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I was told in a forum at that 531 isnt the best program for PowerLifting…But after some research I heard Westside was.

Now I’m confused

Ive never wear any gear, never competed before

And my numbers are like that because I havent focused on my lower half ever since I stopped playing sports. Im trying to get back with it

So 531 is better than Westside ?

First mistake.

Also, like 80% of the strongest people on this site all run some variation of 531


For you? Yes.

Both are awesome but a rookie trying to program his own westside is like watching a monkey fuck a football: amusing, pathetic, and in the end unsatisfying for everyone involved, especially the monkey.


So stick with the 531 for now ? I do enjoy it and I have gotten stronger. But the thing is I dont feel like I get enough opportunities to lay under to heavy weight (90 - 97% 1RPM).

The other day on the 5/3/1+ week, I benched 280 for 6 reps. (Should I be hitting that many reps on a 1+ ?)

I think you answered your own question there.

That is because you are inexperienced and a bit ignorant. One of 5/3/1’s good points (it has bad ones too) is the amount of submaximal work you do. That’s what lets you recover and get stronger. Very few good systems have you working above 85 per cent of your max very often.

Have you read the books and the forums? I’d say that’s a decent number for your plus set, if not a little low. When I was running 5/3/1 if I was getting five or less for my plus set in 5/3/1 week I knew my TM was too high.

More generally, conjugate is a great system if you or your coach has the experience and knowledge to set it up properly. If not, stay away. Brandon Lilly’s Cube method is pretty good, and I think Paul Carter’s Base Building is even better - but for the moment stick to 5/3/1 for some time.


No “best” program also should have added that Westside is best done for 9-12 week blast once or twice a year.

Also you can do both -a great strategy is to run back and forth over the course of a year through a bunch of popular/proven templates off this site…


Thanks man ! I’ll check it out

Conjugate training is good but if you’re wanting to compete, you gotta get better at the big 3 which means lots of practice with those lifts. Variations are fine for assistance, but you gotta train the main 3 competition lifts the majority of your training. The only change I’d make to 531 is training the bench twice a week and using the press for assistance. One day do your amrap on the last set and the other day just do the minimum.

You also don’t need to be at or above 90 unless you’re gonna test yourself. You’ll find the strongest lifters don’t use WS.

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I’ve been told that to train ‘absolute strength’ one needs to be lifting at ranges of 1-3; or 3-5 reps of heavy loads. Majority of the time with 531 I’ve been hitting reps of at least 5-6+ and never lower.

From what I’m hearing and reading is that Westside is better for more experienced PowerLifters, in that case sticking with 531 for now might be best I suppose. Its just that WS has such a great reputation as being the best PL program known to man

Check out 5/3/1 variants like “Perioization Bible” or “Simplest Strength Template.” They are structured sorta westsidish. They can help you get your head around training the big lifts steadily, and filling out the program with targeted assistance work. Most of the good stuff from Westside is in 5/3/1.

After a few months of that, look into Joe DeFranco’s “Westside for Skinny Bastards.” It’s like a template with a planned structure, and you plug exercises in and out, just like Westside. But DeFranco lays it out in a very easy to use way. He programs the heavy lifting you want to do in a Fun, flexible way.

When that’s over, you’ll understand wave loading, rotating assistance work, the Max Effort Method, the Repitition Method and how to break records every workout while still leaving a little in the tank for next time.

Then find “The Max Effort Method” by Jim Wendler. Again, super straight forward and easy to understand and apply.

Only then, once you really have a handle on all that stuff, should you confuse yourself by trying to decipher Louie Simmons’ articles and books.


In the last couple years it looks like more people are saying things like Westside doesn’t work for raw lifters. However, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Other programs can provide good results and Westside is not necessarily better than any other program, the best program is the one that meets your needs. If you don’t know how to set up your training with Westside then it might be the worst thing you can do, not only will you not make much progress (if any) but you won’t realize it either because you will constantly be doing different variations.

You can get stronger with higher reps too, the only time that you absolutely have to train with low reps is when you are peaking for a meet. Until then don’t worry, and you will most likely benefit from added muscle mass.

For 5/3/1 I would suggest opposite first set last 5x5, and you could do 5’s progression too and do some heavy 5’s on days you feel good. Your bench is half decent so maybe a different approach would be better for that though, I would definitely advise doing some sort of benching on your press day. Close grip is a logical choice, if it was me I would do that before ohp.



When you said ‘For 5/3/1 I would suggest opposite first set last 5x5’

What do you mean ?

It’s in beyond 5/3/1, maybe you should buy a copy. After squatting you do 5x5 deadlifts with the weight from your first work set and vice versa. I wouldn’t really recommend doing 5x5 ohp, it sounds like a waste of time if you want your bench to go up.

Oh I see !

Yeah on Squat days I do a light load of 3 sets of deadlifts. On Dead Lift days I usually do a lighter 3 sets of front squats. I do this to help target a full range thinking it should help.

For example:


3x 5, 5, 5+

Followed by Conventional Style DLs:

3x 8,8,8

And on DL days I do front squats instead for the assistance lift

Front Squat Builds muscles that you need for squats and deadlifts. You already get it.

Throw in a few box jumps and hamstrings curls and you’re West-Siding.

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