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Raw Programs


This question is for the more experienced raw powerlifters out there. What kind of training has been successful for you? Some say westside, others say block periodization works. I also feel 5/3/1 only works when you first start out but the more advanced you are, the less it'll work.

Also do you train differently when not training for a meet?


I would consider myself to be an experienced lifter both raw and geared. I am 26 and have powerlifted since I was 14 so I am not new to this and am past making newby gains. I have ran 5/3/1 since January and had great gains. I ran it exactly as planned for the first cycle but changed it slightly to meet my individual needs the next 3 cycles. I changed it so that I don't deload all lifts in one week.

My deloads are staggered with squat being week 1, bench week 2, deadlift week 3, and OH press week 4. For instance on week 1 I would deload squat, 5's on bench, 3's on deads, and 5/3/1 on overhead pressing. Week 2 would be 5's on squat, 3's on bench, 5/3/1 on deads, and deload on overhead pressing. At first it was strange but once you have done the cycle it works great. In preparation for an actual powerlifiting meet I changed it even further to throwing in some heavier singles.

It is true that you have gains in the beginning and they taper off later but isn't that true of any program? Wendler outlines in his book what to do when this happens. After the competition I will most likely continue some aspects of 5/3/1 because I had great success with it.




X2, I'm not incredibly experienced, but have seen some rapid gains following westside principles/template.


Well the only reason I prefer the more experienced lifters is because I want to know what works the best after a person makes their newbie gains.


I've done a lot of different programs during my 16 years (holy shit, I just calculated that and didnt realize it was that long) of training. Most of them worked for a period of time and then everything goes downhill so fast I had no idea what happened. When I started powerlifting, I was still doing basic linear periodization and was stuck from about 2005-2007 at around a 1550-1600 something raw total. I switched to westside shortly after blowing my back to peices and currently my best raw total is 1800 something (awesome day, no injuries) and a 1923 single ply total (torn hamstring).

I really do think it is best just because there is so much flexability in the exercises and methods you can employ.


Not sure how to quantify that someone is beyond "newbie" gains, but I think I am past that as my deadlift and bench gains have somewhat slowed. I have 1.5 years of training under my belt, so whatever that's worth to you. My fist meet was pre-westside principles more than six months ago and I think my total has increased close to 200 lbs since then. I attribute most of this to DE work and, depending on the person, if you've never done it you may stand to gain a lot from it.


What worked for them, may not work for you. I know that sounds so cliche, but it's definitely true. You just have to play around with your training and see what works for you.



Smolov S Alpha for me.


Ive been lifting for about 7 years, and only have had a structured program for the last one. I'm going 5/3/1, and I have to say, I agree that it's more of a newbie program. However, I think the "newbie" stage goes a lot longer than most people want to admit. Or to put it another way, 5/3/1 is good for newbs and intermediate lifters. Where I cross the line from newb/intermediate to advanced, I don't know, but from the looks of it, I have a good shot at an elite total with 5/3/1.

Having not done Westside myself, I can't have my own opinion here, but it is very clear that it's an effective program for advanced lifters.


In an article about adding accommodating resistance to workouts (i.e. bands, chains), Dave Tate mentions that only Class 1 or greater athletes should try it. Take that as you want, but could be used as a potential guideline between "intermediate" and "advanced" lifter.


Westside does have an "Advanced System for Beginners."


What is it?


Basically the same as what the advanced guys do just a shitload more emphasis on GPP. For example, a max effort squat workout might look like this:

-Warm-up with about 15mins of soft tissue work and dynamic stretching
-Drag a moderate weighted sled for 6-10 trips of 60 feet
-Work up to a 1rm on whatever squat variation
-Extremely high rep hamstring/lower back/glute work
-Circuits or more sled dragging or interval conditioning with barbell complexes or whatever

That's about it.


Do you remember which article? I believe you, but I would like to read more about that since some guys trained with my team in the last 9-12 months that were complete beginners and made good progress with bands.


No problem I have it bookmarked. He says it in the summary.


And I too see trainers training next to new lifters with bands. These guys are so weak though it seems that they could make plenty of progress with just straight weight before switching to more advanced techniques. At least, thats the way I have done it. But who knows, there's a very good chance I would have been farther along at this point if I had used bands/chains sooner.


Either one as long as you are CONSISTENT and do it with FOCUS and INTENSITY


How advanced are you? Total & B.wt?


590/375/600 1565 total 275lb class 20 years old


I have used periodization, Westside, 531, Sheiko, and block periodization. I switched from Westside to 531 and that's shortly after switching from equipped to raw. I think any of those routines work well when used correctly.

I used 531 and took my squat from 551 just breaking parallel at 260lbs to 551 at USAPL depth. I took my bench from 386 at 260lbs to 402lbs at 243.9lbs. I took my deadlift from 650lbs to 705lbs. That was after 4 waves of 531. I think that it is an even better option with the 531 for powerlifting approach. You have to pick the right accessory exercises and training volume for you. The deadlift volume was fine for me, but I needed more volume on the squat and bench. I substituted incline DB bench press for military press and used lower percentages.

I used periodization back in the 80's and Westside when I competed in multi ply gear.

I used full blown Sheiko for a training cycle and currently use a modified Sheiko template with some tweaks.