T Nation

Strong Enough for Westside


This is a topic that's been playing on my mind alot recently. Everyone knows that Westside has created some of the worlds strongest powerlifters, but alot of these have gone to Westside with a good basic strength level having followed a more tradtional Western periodization approach (eg both Louie and Dave Tate used western periodization for 15+ years). Conjugated Periodization seems to have been the plateu buster they needed.

Now EVERYONE is interested in obtaining similar results for themselves. But alot of these people seem to struggle to even bench 80-100kg/200-225lbs. If this is the case then they would be doing speed work with ~50-60kg?? Is it really neccessary to worry about speed when you're just plain weak??

I know the simple solution would be to sub in a more RE style day for DE, but on an even simpler level would it not make more sense to just get plain strong in the first place??

I guess what I'm saying is, would it be better for the average person to stick with a more western approach until they get strong enough to see the benefits of conjugated periodization?

(having typed all of this out I just realized I described something very close to WS4SB, but goddamn it's typed now and I'd still ike to hear opinions)

And yes... I am taking only the bench press an example becase people are alot more familiar with it.


I can think of a good example/analogy here.

If you look up Glenn Pendlay and Mark Rippetoe, you'll read some GREAT dual-factor theory stuff. It's a loading-deloading type of 5x5 with a heavy emphasis on the squat with some olympic stuff too.

The main point that they stress is that unless you have been through this type of training and are fairly advanced/proficient, there is no NEED to do the whole volume/intensity waves. They get thier best results early on from a VERY linear protocol ie; add weight every workout (3x/week) for as long as possible.

The point of this long-winded answer is that while you MAY make progress with more complicated protocols, linear weight increases will at least in the beginning be a faster route to great strength/mass.

I must say, however, that Westside CAN be used by beginners. It just (as always as there is no REAL Westside because it's SO much an indivdualized template) needs to fit the individual's current levels/goals.

I'd have to say there's a minimum strength/experience level one must reach before getting fancy. I just don't know what that minimum is.

I think SE days may be a bit too advanced for the beginner.



I agree with this whole post, especially the part in bold. I'll also say that (and this is just my understanding) even an advanced lifter MAY not need speed work. If you are a "hit or miss" style lifter, you may simply need to learn how to strain, in which case, 3rm, accomodating resistance and just plain heavy-ass singles may be all you need. If on the other hand, you know how to strain, and have strained through a 5 second max, then throw in that speed work.


Just to clarify I wasn't talking about myself here. Just a general discussion like.

I think to an extent speed work is extremely important for stronger lifters. Take for example someone who can only do 4 board presses to a 1RM with 450lbs but can bench 600+lb in competition, how did they do it if they can't even lockout 3/4's the weight?? Speed got em the lock.

On the other hand if someone's only gonna use 125lbs to try and increase their 200lbs bench then I don't see the neccessity where time could be better spent on increasing strength in general.


I think a lot of lifters, even including some advnaced lifters, get more from heavier rep work (3s-5s)than they do from the light, low rep DE sets ala WSB . I notice that this is especially true with benching. While speed work made me very strong off my chest raw- it did little to improve my shirted bench.


I am a beginner and have gotten great results with RE days like Westside Skinny Bastards II does it with an occasional DE day thrown in (every other week or once every three).


thats funny causew de did nothing for my off the chest raw strength


In a recent elitefts article one of the guys said (and im paraphrasing) that male lifters didnt have any business doing speed work until they could hit 1.5x-2.0x bodyweight in bench and over 2.0x bodyweight in the squat.

I pretty much agree with the first post, but I think you can adapt westside to meet the needs of novice lifters or special groups (a la WS4SB). There are a lot of great ideas they've brought out.

That being said, its not to say that other lifting methods are useless or outdated. Eastern Bloc atheletes are still crazy in the powerlifts and olympic lifting, and they dont employ westside techniques.

Im using some westside inspiried training right now and having some decent results, I think the best thing is how it is accomidating to how you are doing that day. There were so many times using percentages that i knew i couldnt hit my sets and had to drop weight or miss.


I eould imagine it didn't do much for your shirted bench cos the shirt was giving you all the speed you needed.


I musta missed that article. Got a link to it? I tihnk it's probably a good recommendation tho.


Is that recommodation with or without equipment..?


But if DE work is useless for ALL shirted benchers, then why would westside bother using it?


You guys have to take into account that training at Westside Barbell is also a state of mind. Guys go through Westside with some good starting strength then Louie or Chuck or whoever takes you under their wing finds your weaknesses and attacks those.

You can't bottle up Westside Barbell as just a training method or theory. It's not as simple as ME or DE work. Yes you will do the required ME and DE stuff but at the same time you weaknesses are always being exposed and ways are found to correct them.

The benefit of Westside Barbell is the experience that dwells inside that building. But remember that most guys can't take the training intensity nor are they willing to do what it takes to be successful at Westside Barbell.

So to discuss the Conjugate method in acordance w/ Westside Barbell you will have to have trained there to undrstand why everything Loiue talks about works so well. If you can withstand the training you will be great if not you are probably still strong but not cut out for the training regiment.

The technical aspect of the gym is amazing. Every lift you do is observed and recommendations are given to improve. The conjugate method is a small part of Westside Barbell where as the people who train there are the actual driving force behind it's success. You could tell those guys that you can get stronger by punching out glass windows and someone would give it a shot. Some of the craziest mother's on the planet train there and they are not a front or act just for the workout, they are like that in real life.


You would be amazed at the progress a relative beginner to weight training can make on regular linear periodization. The amount of people that follow any program to a T, and especially never miss a day, is few. I definitely do this myself, and whenever I am consistent you would be suprised at what a very basic program can accomplish.


I'm gonna have to agree that linear progressive overload works fine for a beginner. For example, 6 months ago my best overhead squat was 205 x 4. Yesterday I did 260 for 20 sets of 1. In between I did nothing but add 5 lbs every 2-4 weeks, and I did nothing but singles. Once progressive overload stops working then I'll worry about getting fancy.

Also remember that Verkhoshansky said to use training methods with a low training effect on beginners because they don't need a strong stimulus to get better. Then, as the need arises, sequentially add in training methods with a greater training effect in order from lowest effect to highest effect.


I don't know if you noticed but in my OP i referred to it solely as "conjugated peridization". I did this because as you pointed out it's not true Westside until you're training in their gym (i think Dave Tate said this too?).

I was talking more along the lines of a westside approach (ie ME and DE days). I think in recent times the older methods of training are becoming unfairly discarded because of the secrets we're now "uncovering".

I think this site can even be guilty of it at times. People seem to be turning their backs on even the tradtional approach to bodybuilding (ie 3-6 sets of 8-12) in favour of more complex appraoachs ala Waterbury and Poliquin. While i don't doubt that some of their methods work (in particular GVT and it's variants).

It seems to me htat the prevailing school of thought is that "new" and well marketed ways of training are superior to balls to the wall insanity and commintment on more basic programs.

But that's just my opinion.


This is interesting. I'm finishing up Joel Marion's partial-Westside (as I understand it) bench program, and made great progress on some of my assistance lifts, but my bench hasn't gone up a ton. Still about 20-30 pounds shy of a 1.5 x BW bench. Would I be better off doing one day of ME and one day RM a week for bench and squat/DL?


The DE day is a critical part of WSB. Everyone needs speed on a bench press. 60% or 50% means that everyone who does WSB is benching a low weight relative to them.