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Starting Westside Barbell

so i’ve been doing basic 5x5 strength programs (starting strength, pendlay, etc) for a while now. i’m 5’10’’ 170lbs and currently my lifts are around this:

squat 275x5
deadlift 315x5
bench 195x5

(i’ve haven’t tried to get my 1RM on anything yet.)

so here’s my question: should i continue on doing basic strength programs before starting something complex like Westside? i know i have room for improvement and i’ve never really planned on competing but after researching Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell methodology, it sounds really intriguing to me and seems like a lot of fun. especially with the endless amount of lifts that are worked in and regular max effort days. thanks for the advice big guys.

I’d find someone that actually knows how to do westside and have them help you out your first go through. It’s definitely a thinking mans program and very helpful to have someone teach you how to actually program it. Otherwise just run 5/3/1 for a year or so.

[quote]LiquidMercury wrote:
I’d find someone that actually knows how to do westside and have them help you out your first go through. It’s definitely a thinking mans program and very helpful to have someone teach you how to actually program it. Otherwise just run 5/3/1 for a year or so.[/quote]

^^^^^^^

you could read louie’s book. Westside Barbell: Book of Methods. It is a great read for understanding westside methods and how to structure weekly,monthly and yearly plans. You may have to read a few times though.
while your reading it though you can/could continue to milk the fuck outa basic programs, 5/3/1, starting strength, 5x5.

it is a fun change. Having all of the different exercise to choose from. Although like liquad said youve got to think about it. Why are you doing certain exercises etc etc etc.

Give the book a good read through though. Will help a lot.

Goodluck.

[quote]LiquidMercury wrote:
I’d find someone that actually knows how to do westside and have them help you out your first go through. It’s definitely a thinking mans program and very helpful to have someone teach you how to actually program it. Otherwise just run 5/3/1 for a year or so.[/quote]

Great advice. I had read lots om the conjugate system, but it somehow didnt click for me until I saw it being implemented day in and out by my current training partner.

thanks a lot guys. this helped a lot. it lead me to wendler’s 5/3/1. definitely feels like a more logical place to start for me than westside. have any of you guys read his 5/3/1 book? definitely seems it’s well worth the 20 bucks.

[quote]methaddict99 wrote:
thanks a lot guys. this helped a lot. it lead me to wendler’s 5/3/1. definitely feels like a more logical place to start for me than westside. have any of you guys read his 5/3/1 book? definitely seems it’s well worth the 20 bucks.[/quote]

It’s definitely well worth the 20 bucks it costs.

I personally like to have people go to westside for skinny bastards, then into westside. Some respond better to some volume work, and their program ends up continuing to look similar to WS4SB.

A lot of guys like 5/3/1, its simple, so if you don’t think you know enough to do westside yet, its fine to start with. Keep reading though, and I think that after awhile you may want to switch.

The thing I changed about WS4SB was dropping the conditioning stuff and adding a lower body rep day for 6 weeks, then switching to lower body speed work for 3, 3 week waves, then back to lower body rep work for 6 weeks.

I did Westside for a year and my gains were very sporadic. With all the programming and choices and variables, I could never figure out what works best for me. Now I’m doing a modified 5/3/1, modified because it has dynamic box squats and bench presses programmed into it and the only upper back work I’m doing is deadlifting, hang snatches, and hang clean and jerks, and I guess you could say dynamic squats (surprisingly, it’s beefing my upper back better than traditional methods).

I feel like Westside Barbell techniques should only be used once the simple training stops working. I went from SL 5x5 to Wendler’s 5/3/1 and I have a 425 squat, 435 deadlift, 250lbs bench and 140lbs OH press at a little less than 190lbs. Not that these lifts are impressive, but you can definitely milk the simpler programs for longer.

Wendler 5/3/1 can be very fun. It’s simple, you’re almost always hitting PR’s and testing out which assistance lifts work for you is quite enjoyable. I strongly suggest buying the E-Book, not only for the program advice but for all the other great things Jim has to say.

I agree with what LiquidMercury said. I think 5/3/1 is one of the best programs out there for newer lifts mainly because it gives great steady results, but also because it is very simple to follow. I recommend buying the book but honestly, Jim would probably just tell you what to do if you asked really nicely. There are a few articles about it already.

The other benefit of 5/3/1 is that you can experiment with various assistance lifts, volumes, and loading schemes of assistance work so that you can find what works for you while still making decent progress in the main lifts. Once you learn what works for you, you can make smarter modifications to your training in the future.

Isn’t this the gist of the program? The template described in the article is what I’ve been following. Up and at em.

That would be it. There is also the powerlifting variation, but the original works just as well.

Every program works. The keys to getting them to work for you are consistancy and establishing principals that are important to you. For example, you want to get strong, well, what is your definition of strength? A big squat, bench, and deadlift? Then the main prinicpals behind your training should be lifting heavy and lifting correctly as often as you can handle.

Also, if you are still making progress, don’t change a damn thing yet. 315 for 5 at 170lbs is pretty impressive. Keep that shit up, man!

And Westside is not that complicated. It is just very highly involved.

I would get the 5/3/1 for powerlifting if your main goal is maximal strength. It includes singles.

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:
Every program works. The keys to getting them to work for you are consistancy and establishing principals that are important to you. For example, you want to get strong, well, what is your definition of strength? A big squat, bench, and deadlift? Then the main prinicpals behind your training should be lifting heavy and lifting correctly as often as you can handle.

Also, if you are still making progress, don’t change a damn thing yet. 315 for 5 at 170lbs is pretty impressive. Keep that shit up, man!

And Westside is not that complicated. It is just very highly involved.[/quote]

What’s the difference between complicated and highly involved in this context?

[quote]Fletch1986 wrote:

[quote]StormTheBeach wrote:
Every program works. The keys to getting them to work for you are consistancy and establishing principals that are important to you. For example, you want to get strong, well, what is your definition of strength? A big squat, bench, and deadlift? Then the main prinicpals behind your training should be lifting heavy and lifting correctly as often as you can handle.

Also, if you are still making progress, don’t change a damn thing yet. 315 for 5 at 170lbs is pretty impressive. Keep that shit up, man!

And Westside is not that complicated. It is just very highly involved.[/quote]

What’s the difference between complicated and highly involved in this context?[/quote]

Not complicated in that the only real principles behind the whole system is lifting maximal weight with no time limit, lifting submaximal weight with maximal force within a given time limit, and using repeated efforts to develop weaknesses.

The involved part is actually organizing the training cycles. Which everyone seems to have a pretty hard time with.

What do you mean by “organizing the training cycles”?

Don’t you just use a ME exercise for 3 weeks [as a beginner] then switch to another (perhaps after a deload week). And with DE you just go 50%, 55%, 60% over the same 3 weeks??? Is this a huge over-simplification?

[quote]ros1816 wrote:
What do you mean by “organizing the training cycles”?

Don’t you just use a ME exercise for 3 weeks [as a beginner] then switch to another (perhaps after a deload week). And with DE you just go 50%, 55%, 60% over the same 3 weeks??? Is this a huge over-simplification?[/quote]

I’m pretty sure he is talking about training cycles in regards to what ME movements to use and when, total volume programming, and months and weeks leading up to meets. You have to remember that power lifting is a competitive sport, and as such there is an end. You must have a means to those ends, and to do this effectively takes some thought.

[quote]GruntOrama wrote:

[quote]ros1816 wrote:
What do you mean by “organizing the training cycles”?

Don’t you just use a ME exercise for 3 weeks [as a beginner] then switch to another (perhaps after a deload week). And with DE you just go 50%, 55%, 60% over the same 3 weeks??? Is this a huge over-simplification?[/quote]

I’m pretty sure he is talking about training cycles in regards to what ME movements to use and when, total volume programming, and months and weeks leading up to meets. You have to remember that power lifting is a competitive sport, and as such there is an end. You must have a means to those ends, and to do this effectively takes some thought.[/quote]

Kinda. I mean in terms of periodization. There are 3 very different training cycles, almost like mesocycle blocks in block periodization. It is not just endless cycling of max effort lifts and the same waves of speed work over and over again. People don’t make progress because they don’t take the time to actually learn the system. It’s easier to google “5x5” than it is to read through Supertraining. Just like it is easier to read one article on Westside, try it out for a month, and then decide it only works for guys on steroids or only when lifting in s shit load of gear.

Grunt, you nailed it when you said it is a means to an end. The plan needs to adapt to you, not you to the plan. Any good program will allow you to shift the emphasis of the training, still keep the main principals of the program involved, and still, most importantly, make progress. Thats exactly what Westside allows.

For example, I am training for my first raw full meet in I don’t even know how long. I am also coming off some serious injuries as well. I tried to plan and organize my training a little bit better than I have in the past and this is what it has been so far:

12 weeks out: Block 1: Motor Potential Underloading

Dynamic work: Geared torwards size gains and increasing GPP
Squats- 25x2 w/50% in as fast a time as possible. Change bars and box height every week
Pulls- 12-15 sets of 2 w/ whatever moved fast. Changed foot position and bars every week
Bench- 20x3 w/40% in as fast a time as possible. Changed bars every week (the bench log almost knocked all my teeth out).

Max Efforts- Only for triples, no bands and chains, don’t fail on anything.

Assistant work: 3-5 general exercises for time (30-45 seconds a set) or for 50-60 total reps

8 weeks out: Block 2: Motor Potential Overloading

Dynamic work: Increase speed on main lifts. Maintain size and GPP.
Squats- 8-10 sets of 2, 50% week 1, 55% week 2 and work up to a heavy double, 200-400lbs in band tension
Pulls- 8-10 sets of 1, 50%, change band tensions each week
Bench-8-10 sets of 3, 40-50%, tons of band tension

Max Efforts- Singles w/bands and chains

Assistance work: 2-3 specific barbell exercises for 30-40 total reps, or up to a 6rm

Deload week 5

4 weeks out: Block 3: Technical

Pure speed work with light band tensions

Max efforts to singles with no band tension or chains

Assistance work only 1-2 exercises, at least one to a 6rm

2 weeks out: Same

Drop bands and chains

No more max efforts

Meet Week: Wreck shit.

See how all of the main principals are still in place but the emphasis in training shifts greatly. This is just an outline, I didn’t even include how I planned out extra workouts… which looks a lot like Russel Crowes shed in “A Beautiful Mind.”