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Westside Barbell - Is Max Effort Enough?

Squat - 385
Bench - 305
Dead - 465
TOTAL - 1155
Weight - 198

Westside for 5 weeks now. On my ME days, I feel like working up to a 1RM for whatever bench variation i’m on doesn’t really work my chest. I’m hitting 8-9 sets of 3 reps all the way down to 1 rep on the last three. I have never felt tired on a “max day” and while I have accessory work afterwords, it’s basically shoulders and tris. Overall, I’m worked, but I am not sure if working up from 135 to 305 really hits my chest. Stay patient with it? Or throw some more heavy chest in after the workup to ME bench?

The max effort method isn’t about “working your chest” its about developing maximal strength on the lift. That’s done by working above 90% and straining to complete a heavy rep. If you want to develop your pecs you can do some bodybuilding stuff after your ME work. But it sounds to me like you’re not really understanding the system.


An example of what I mean…1RM workup for flat bench. Then an accessory exercise could be floor press? Or bench with a block… Or are those exercises that should become lifts for 1RM workups for ME day?

Yes, what you’re using on a ME day should be a variation of the main lift unless you are testing out. Say on a ME Upper day you utilize a floor press one week, then a board press the next, close grip the next, etc.


ME for both lower and upper is a variation of the main lift to a max single, double, or triple. That ME is followed by a few working sets in the chosen variation at a percentage of the ME, as well as a few accessory movements, which could be 2-3 on ME day that target your weak points. ME lower cycles weekly, with one week being deadlifts, and the other squats.

DE day for both lower and upper generally denotes three week waves where one variation is chosen to be worked against some form of accommodating resistance as explosively and quickly as possible (this variation is generally chosen to work a weak point) with each week the percentages getting heavier and the volume on the main movement lessening. The bulk of your hypertrophy assistance work is generally done on DE day, not all of it, but a good chunk.

Again, I’m just explaining my take on conjugate, there are many sources to look for good information from, notable ones being Elite FTS, as well as a tutorial series posted on the Massthetics YouTube channel (it’s in a playlist).

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Thank you!! You’re absolutely right. I wasn’t understanding correctly. What an awesome summary. The weekly dead/squat rotation clears up other questions I had. What i’ve been doing seemed to be more of a powerlifting/bodybuilding hybrid bastard version of westside. I wanted it to be more powerlifting oriented – actually I only want to power lift.

Thanks for the help!

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I highly recommend Jim Wendler’s book about the maximum effort. It’s the best read on the subject out there in the internet.


Sweet. I found it. I’ll work my way through it. Appreciate it! One last question regarding ME leg day…Most of the stuff I’ve read has focused on box squatting. Is the box squat an assistance exercise to be done after the core lift (regular squat)? Or is box squat just the core lift for legs with westside?

Louie recommends box squatting but of all the raw lifters I know, including myself, exactly zero use a box. I would say just free squat for now.

Why don’t you box squat? I’ve been doing it the past few weeks along with sumo dead (which i had never done before), but then quickly realized those require a lot of hip mobility that I apparently need to ease/work into.