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Not Another Conjugate Method Thread


Not to be one of those thousands of guys that post about the conjugate method as used by Westside Barbell but I'm just posting this to share my thoughts on the method and if I'm wrong in how I believe the system works PLEASE for the love of the Lord correct me.

ME Exercises: You pick an exercise that you believe has a carryover to your squat,bench or deadlift. You try to hit a 1-3 rep max if you're "advanced" enough or a 3-5 if you're more of an intermediate or beginner (Westside for Skinny Bastards). As soon as you can't increase the weight,get another rep or if you get weaker at that lift(CNS fatigue) immediately switch your ME exercise to something else you believe has a carryover to the lift you're training to improve. It's commonly accepted that it's going to be 3 weeks before you have to switch ME exercises. But from my understanding of the concept if you're still improving at the lift by either increasing the weight from last week or getting another rep you should stick with it until you either go backwards or can't increase the weight or increase the reps. So I believe the minimum for most people would be to stick with their chosen ME lift for 3 weeks and if they're still improving stick with it. If not change to another ME lift.

DE Exercises: The purpose of DE exercises is to increase the speed of the lift during max attempts to avoid sticking points and to increase power. To do this you lift a sub maximal weight with maximal force. The percentages for this vary greatly between equipped and raw lifters. Raw lifters generally use higher percentages than geared lifters do for the most part to compensate for the difference between a raw lift and a geared lift. 50%-70% is a range that could be used for raw benchers doing DE work and for shirted benchers it would be more along the lines of 50%-60%. These aren't set in stone so work with what you think will improve your power output but it's about speed here and using as much force as you can so keep that in mind. As far as squat percentage for raw lifters they could go from 50%-70% and possibly up to 80%. For geared squatters the range would be more like 50%-60%. Deadlift percentages are about the same at 65%-80% for raw and geared lifters. These percentages are just basic guidelines. The key when doing DE work is to move the bar FAST and with FORCE. If you think that you're lifting slow or without force lower the weight until you do feel like you're lifting fast and with force.

Supplemental/Accessory lifts: When doing these lifts the focus is shifted from working MOVEMENTS to working MUSCLES. The purpose of doing supplemental/accessory work is to strengthen the individual muscles involved in the lift you're trying to improve. So for squat you would work the hamstrings,low back,quads and abdominals. When doing these exercises it's important that you're strengthening the MUSCLE and not the MOVEMENT. For example when doing incline dumbbell presses to strengthen the shoulders focus on FEELING THE MUSCLES WORK. The purpose of supplemental/accessory exercises is not to put up as much weight as possible in the exercise but to strengthen the muscles used during the lift i.e. the shoulders in this particular example. Focus on feeling the muscle work. If you can't feel the targeted muscle/muscles working lower the weight,slow the tempo,use proper form etc. until you can feel them working. When doing these exercises the goal is to always increase the weight,reps,sets or decrease the time between sets. The important thing is progression in these lifts. Always strive to do more work than the last week. If you did 70x10x3 on dumbbell bench try to do 70x11,75x10,70x10x4 or decrease the rest between sets. The goal is to constantly make progress in these lifts. But as soon as you can't increase the weight,reps,sets or decrease the time between sets change to an exercise that works the same muscles as the previous exercise but is a different exercise. For example if you stall on barbell chest supported rows switch to dumbbell rows. This allows you to make progress in a new lift and continue to strengthen the muscles at a fast rate.

And that's what I got. Long ass post that pretty much covers everything about the conjugate method as used by Westside Barbell. If I'm wrong in anything here tell me. If I'm right in any of this tell me. I want to better understand this system and a lot of you have a very good understanding of it. Thanks for any help


Uh, you were wrong about covering everything... You left out abs, recovery/extra sessions... And now I'll stop being a jackass.

That seems like a good summary of it to me.
Some other ideas:

I don't know myself if they do this at Westside now, but mini cycles within the framework you described are something I do with DE percentages. For example, wk 1 45%, wk 2 50%, wk 3 55% (using some kind of accomadating resistance as well), then repeat.

I also have cycled range of motion on accessory lifts instead of just reps and load as you described. For example: board presses for triceps wk 1 5 board, wk 2 4 board, wk 3 3 board, then repeat with higher weight (also works with rack pulls).

Those are just details though. To my knowledge you've got the basics down.


Thanks for taking the time to post. Much appreciated


Search "Dave Tate 8 keys" for the definitive articles

A great first template..


How often you switch out generally depends on how advanced you are. Most guys swap ME lifts out every week. That's because they are used to this style of training. It's been my experience that when you first start doing variants of the powerlifts for a heavy 1rm, your body isn't used to the movement so you can train it 2-3 weeks in a row and everytime you'll set a PR. This isn't because you're actually getting stronger it's because you're more efficient at the movement, you know what it feels like, etc.

After a while you get used to these variants and thus you have to switch them out more frequently.

One thing that you're missing is FORM. A lot of people lack proper form on these because they are trying to move the bar as fast as they can and don't get the results they should because of this. Your form should be perfect on these. I think Robertson Training Systems just posted an article about this actually? Percentages don't matter, it's all about bar speed. Or weight lifted divided by time.