T Nation

Understanding Westside

I want to start this post by saying i am not a particularly great lifter nor am i greatly experienced in the westside/conjugate method. But even with my limited research on it, i can see that the majority of people that criticize it don’t even seem to have a good understanding of the method. This isn’t meant to be a debate about whats best for what, but simply trying to point out and get some discussion regarding peoples complaints against the method itself.

The main criticisms seem to be that it works great for geared lifters but not raw lifters… This does not make a whole lot of sense, the mechanisms for getting stronger are the same regardless of gear or not. You impose a demand on the body its not used to and it compensates and gets stronger/bigger. Basically every argument about westside being shit for raw lifting stems from exercise selection and lack of specificity. How many times have you heard people say that they did westside and used box squats, good mornings and high board presses and then complain there raw lifts aren’t improving? well NO SHIT!!! there are no “westside routine exercises” you are supposed to pick exercises that work YOUR weaknesses. The exercise selection for a multiply lifter is going to look alot different than the exercise selection for a raw lifter.You simply copying the exercises that advanced westside guys use is NOT a fault of the method, its a fault on your part for not understanding the method.

Another misunderstanding seems to be that people think max effort and dynamic work remain the same throughout the whole year. You do not simply shoot for a heavy 1rm every max effort day year round. Same as dynamic work doesn’t just remain the same 12x2-3 for squats and 10x3 for benches year round. There are distinct blocks used thought out the year that require different setup for max effort speed work.

Also the use of boxes, specialty bars, chanis and bands are NOT nessecary in order the follow the Westside method. These things are tools that louie finds useful for him and his lifters, you may not find them necessary in your own training.

My point is not really to say westside is the best method out there. But it seems that ALOT of people who criticize it or even haven’t been able to use it with any success, don’t have a comprehensive understanding of the very method they are trying to use or criticize.

It CAN work for raw/singly ply lifting, Mike Hedlesky who used to post here competed in both geared and raw competitions using the westside method. Pretty sure he won gold at an ipf national or world meet while training in this manner.

If anyone has anything else they would like to add or even disagree with some stuff i think it could make for a decent discussion.


Good points.

-You didn’t even mention GPP, bro!

-The 3 week pendulum wave is the truth.

Definitely not the best method. More champions using other means of training than conjugate training. Not saying it doesn’t work, but not the best. The best is whatever works for the individual.

The real reason the guys in that gym are strong is the atmosphere, the drive, the dedication, consistency, etc. They’d get strong no matter what method or programming they used. All elite lifters listen to their bodies the best and know what works best for them.

As you said, they don’t train “westside” all year long. Even max effort days are not max effort days every day of the year and same with speed days. It all depends on how the lifter is doing at that point in their training.

No matter what, arguing methods and programming is just a waste of time.The one constant about WS is it never stays the same. They just flat out train to get stronger by whatever means necessary and that is what makes WS what they are.

What I like about Westside is that the variety and box squats allow me to really push myself whereas doing actual comp lifts week in and week out really wears my joints down or I can’t push things hard enough to get good results trying to spare my joints and bores the hell out of me.

-Average training weight should be 80%. Westside, Olympic lifters, C.T. , scientific studies. Everybody agrees.

-Power to to useful a quality to not develop it all the time. fast is good. C.T., Josh Bryant, most lifters on this board, athletes, coaches all over the place agree.

-You should do some kind of conditioning. Pulling and pushing stuff is great for this.

-Muscles are important, so always build those too.

-Go after your weaknesses with special work. 2 special workouts, every week, just for whatever sucks most. How many strong dudes are hitting pull aparts, on this board, right now?

-Use the best stuff you can get your hands on. “If its not an advantage, its a disadvantage.”

-If something works for someone else, check it out. “I’ll steal a knife and slit your throat with it.”

  • "Build a base. Mathematically a pyramid is only as strong and tall as its base. Every kid I think should be exposed to wrestling and gymnastics that’s a good place to start. That and running obstacle courses and things like that.

For adults I would build a base with sled work. High rep lower back and abs work. Have them do high rep band pushdowns and band leg curls. Good mornings with the bands. Strengthen the ligaments.

Everybody wants to do what the strongest guy in the gym is doing. He didn’t start off that way. He built a base and that’s what they need to do."

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Box squats are half of a quarter of 1, out of 4 training sessions!

People on the internet constantly bash Louie for his philosophy and can’t understand all the knowledge he has. That is the main problem with the method - other people’s egos.

And he is constantly changing his approach. If you are listening to his podcast, basically everything has changed from back in the day.

The main pointers he gives are:

-Do your GPP, that will make you better and as Mark Bell says “the fasterest”
-Change things up
-Hit your weak points

The problem I find is that he has a shitload of equipment that is not available for many people. If you are not American it’s like nearly impossible to find proper equipment. In my country, I have never seen a reverse hyper, nor a glute-ham raise machine, even a bloody sled, so it kinda sucks. lol

But not having the shit they have at WS is no excuse - you can change 3 grips, put your feet up, boom 6 variations. Work with pauses - boom a lot of variations. For the squat - change stances, change shoes, drop the belt, put it higher, put it lower. For the deadlift - change stance, use pauses, use holds, maybe even throw a band or if you have stolen a chain from somewhere.
The method works with a lot of variations so you are not weak and that is the greatest thing about it.

Not to mention jumps. How many of you, that run westside template or conjugate in general, incorporate jumping?

What about the speed day, for example on DE Bench I feel more ‘in control’ and tighter if I pause at the chest when using straight weight, however when I use bands I prefer not to pause as not pausing feels better, not sure on chains but probably would prefer a pause.
By ‘pause’ I mean around 0.5sec.

What would the ‘correct’ way be. All the vids seem to not pause on any type of DE bench work.
DE box-squat incorporates a pause doesn’t it?

No pause with the bands.

-Control the descent, reverse direction as fast as possible. (Josh Bryant)

-The 3 reps, with no pause, should take the same time as 1 heavy lift, with a pause. (Louie)

-Don’t sacrifice tension for speed" (Andy Bolton)


Your not intentionally pausing on the box for a Westside box squat. You simply put all your weight on the box, release your hip flexors, and then re-engage your hip flexors and hamstrings right after you release them. A small fraction of a second. There shouldn’t be anything like a count going through your head while you do this.

Be sure you land on the box almost as if you were squatting to a bed of nails. You want to lie down or sit down under control with one of those right? If not, I suggest therapy :slight_smile:

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