T Nation

Westside Barbell Routine - Evaluate Please


Alright, so I am just starting a westside barbell-style routine since I hear such great things about them. I was hoping some people could give me advice, critique my routine as best they could, and add in anything else a new power lifter could learn. I've been lifting for roughly two years now, 16 atm, so I know basics and such, however, I had been lifting more of a bodybuilder style. My Westside Barbell routine is -

Sunday - Max Squat
Squats - work up to a 1RM (9 or 10 sets usually)
Glute Ham Raises - 3 sets of 8
Stiff Legged Deficit Deadlifts - 3 sets of 10-12
Leg Press Calf Press - 3-4 sets of 8-30 reps
Rope Ab Pull Downs - 4 sets of 15
Leg Raises - 3 Sets to Failure (usually around 13)

Monday - Off

Tuesday - Max Effort Bench
Incline Bench - work up to a one rep max. My front delts were quite sore after this, maybe my form was off?
Decline Bench - 3 Sets of 8-12 reps (Westside doesn't recommend but I feel I need more chest work. Might just be my BB instincts lol. If I have any...)
Dumbbell Side Raises - 4 sets of 8-12
Weighted Pull Ups - 5 sets of 5
Barbell Curls - 3 sets of 5-12

Wednesday - Off. However, I am thinking of making it a back day. If I did I wouldn't do anything Tuesday and would add in 3-5 sets on Saturday. Some ppinions on this would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday - Dynamic Lower Body
Speed Box Squats w/ Bands - 10-12 sets of 2 ----> I am unsure of how to gauge my speed on this lift as I have no training partner. Any recommendation would be great. Same goes with the deadlifts and bench later on.
Speed Band Deadlift - 8 sets of 1
Wide Stance GM - 3 sets of 10
Lunges - 2 Sets of 8
Smith Machine Calf Raises - 3-4 sets pyramidding up (optional)
Knee Raises - 3 sets to failure (usually around 20 reps)
Cable Side Bends - 3 sets of 15

Friday - Off

Saturday - Speed Bench
Band Speed Bench Press - 9 sets of 3 with varying grips
Dumbbell Press 3-4 sets of 8 or Chaos Bench 2-3 sets of 20-30 (with weights hanging off of bands) - I am unsure once again whether adding this additional chest exercise is wise or not.
Jerk Press - work up to a 1 rep max
Skull crushers - 4 sets of 5
Barbell Rows - 4-5 Sets pf 6-10
Shrugs supersetted w/ Face Pulls - 3 supersets of 20 reps, 15 reps, 8 reps

Help would be greatly appreciated esp. since this is a long post and takes time to read. Thanks to all who look.


Looks alright... Just make sure you switch up your ME and accessory lifts every 1-3 weeks. And why have incline bench as an ME exercise? Also, you have a little too much volume, although it might work ok for you. If lifts are stalling start cutting out some of the accessory lifts.


Alright thanks a lot. I plan on changing up max effort lift each 3 weeks since I definately consider myself a beginner. I read a lot that incline bench is one of top lifts for max effort day. Plan on doing floor press next 3 weeks and then most likely reverse band bench press. As for the volume, I was told that since I am a beginner, that I should have a little more than the pros, so I decided to try it. Will def cut out some lifts if I begin stalling.


You need more tricep excercises particularly on your ME bench day.


oh my bad, yea i do Pull downs on max effort day. Forgot to put that in. Do 4 sets of 8-12. Will do JM or CGBP next rotation.


definitely put more tricep work in on ME day. Good Luck !


I would put 2 triceps exercises in on ME bench day, seeing as how that's what Louie wrote on the West Side website. It's up to you really, and on your experience level, but that's just how I feel. Good luck.


  1. You don't need a separate back day. Take it for what it is: an accessory to bench and deads and add back work in as needed. The WSB template usually has it twice a week on bench days.

  2. More triceps work.

  3. I probably wouldn't train the jerk heavy on DE bench day.

  4. Do a little GPP if you don't already. Conditioning IS important for PL, because it keeps you healthy and enhances recovery/work capacity

  5. You need to pull every week to get better at it. Don't think you can get away with no deads, because especially for a beginner, it won't happen.

If you're raw this looks good, but if you're equipped it might need some work.


Do not add in a back day. You will burn out very quickly. Also, This seems like a ton of volume. If the time between your first max attempt or first speed sets and your final rep on your last assistance exercises is longer than 45mins, then its too much work. You make up extra work in extra workouts, not by adding time onto main workouts.

Two years of lifting is still a very young training age. Starting a program like this for the first time puts you back at zero. You will need more volume to make gains but that is volume in the main lifts. I would strongly suggest not hitting singles to start out. At least for the first few cylces go with triples and doubles to get your form right and learn how to strain with heavy weights from week to week.

For speed squats do this:
Week 1: 47% for 12 sets of 2
Week 2: 50% for 12 sets of 2
Week 3: 53% for 10 sets of 2
Week 4: Week 1

If you have bands/chains put 25% of your best competitiong max on the bar. If you are just training raw w/o bands or chain, add 5-10% to the bar weights. These are just a guidline, just make sure the weight is moving VERY fast.


to gauge speed, the multiple repetitions should be able to be completed as fast if not faster than a typical single maximum effort lift. I'm not sure if that's too ambiguous but you should be able to manhandle any weight you are using for dynamic lifts.

I agree with others that you need an emphasis on triceps. Stay away from cables for the most part and use the tried and true tricep builders, close grips, jm press, board press, bb extensions, db extensions, tate press etc...I like dips and weighted dips too.

For ME exercises, I've never used the decline...that's not to say it might be helpful to you. Close grip incline presses are nice, as are overhead presses and floor presses. Don't forget that you can modify your grip for a different ME exercise. For example you could do close grip floor presses for a record and then eventually switch to medium, normal grip or wide grip.

If you're not planning on competing equipped I think that bands and chains are of limited value. I definitely wouldn't introduce them until you've got a good 12-16 weeks under your belt of handling maximal weights.

Also, this may go against the grain...but I don't really worry about my percentages too much, I just look at my own bar speed. It may be helpful or detrimental for you to worry too much about percentages. If you're a 300 lbs. raw bencher, figure you should be using roughly 150 lbs. for your dynamic bench. If it seems fast enough, add a little weight, keep adding...if it seems a little slow, take some weight off. Same thing goes for your squat, you have to dial it in. It might be helpful to watch some videos online of dynamic workouts, although...quite a few of the so-called "dynamic" workouts I watched seemed slower than I would expect.

Finally, don't expect results overnight. This type of training pays huge dividends but the cost is figuring yourself out. If you're training alone you might have a difficult time identifying your own weaknesses. If you can, try to get with some knowledgeable guys who can look at your form, speed and assist you.


@ strength student
I am a raw lifter, have not competed but plan to in the future.

However, I know that I can get away with no deadlift because I stopped deadlifting for about 2-3 months and jumped from 385 for a single to 405 for a double (wasn't the firs time I jumped) so I feel I can make progress without deadlift.

Howcome no heavy jerk? Wouldn't it work well since my shoulders would be more fresh than on dynamic effort day?

Since I can;t go over 45-60min for a workout, should I workout on my off days to hit calves, abs, and what not? Or should I try and do it on the same day (it is possible if I lift at school during gym).

Previous to this routine I did 3 rep maxes, so I feel I am going to do doubles or singles, as a change of pace. Thanks for the estimation for how much weight in bands I should have. However, i read that westside doesn't care how much is at the top, as long as the barbell moves quickly.

Thanks for the tricep advice. I was planning on doing CGBP and then some tricep pull downs. Heard it works great.

I already introduced bands on my dynamic effort day, but not my max effort day (planning on doing reverse band bench weeks 6-9). Is this acceptable for a newbie like myself? or should i stay away from them all together.

As for lifting partners, there are very little lifters of my age at my school that I would consider a good workout partner. The majority of kids just bench and what not. So a workout partner is out of the question unless I find someone at my gym, which most likely won't since there are 0 powerlifters at my gym. Biggest squat I've ever seen was 430 and biggest deadlift was 500. That was by my powerlifting friend, but hes in college now and doesn't go to my gym any more.

I completely understand that I shouldn;t expect results over night, never did.

Thanks to all who contributed.


If anyone disagrees with me listen to them since I might not know what I'm talking about. At least for a while, no bands on ME day. Use them for DE though. When moving a bar fast you'll get some initial speed on the bottom part of the lift and it takes less effort to move the top half fast because of this. Using band tension evens this out so its similar force for the entire movement.


Heavy jerks are another max effort exercise, but one that will fatigue the entire body. It's a great lift when applied as a movement for power and speed and can be of tremendous help in certain sports, but it isn't very applicable to powerlifting. Just as with any other sport, you need to address specificity in your training and evaluate every training tool based on its ability to improve your performance at your chosen sport. If it isn't specific, then its GPP, and considering the needs of powerlifters, more strength work in the GPP is not really necessary, and may even hinder recovery.

Some overhead work has been helpful to me in maintaining shoulder health, but jerks just don't really have much to add to your training that another exercise wouldn't do better. Consider some pressing with moderate poundages as an assistance movement. Trust me here, I converted to PL from Olympic, and I know from experience that hammering too much overhead work will hurt you're training or you when coupled with sufficient volume on bench.

If you can improve the dead without ever deadlifting, go for it. But at some point, you will probably need to work form to maintain the groove and adjust to your body mechanics as they change over time. Louie Simmons is a big proponent of practice and skill work to get stronger as well. Just food for thought.


Thanks a lot for the tips. I will continue to do speed pulls, just not heavy deadlifts. As for the jerk, I took it out and replaced it with dumbbell press for 3-4 sets of 6-10


Do you know what your weak points are on the 3 main lifts? That will determine in large part what exercises will be most effective.

Case example (Me):
Spent about 3 months using ME lifts primarily meant for bottom end strength and assistance too (dead bench, pause bench, db pressing, standing shoulder press). When I went to max on standard bench, I had next to no carryover. Some yes, but very little. I could do my previous PR easier, but I couldn't do anymore weight. My problem is that my midpoint was weak and now I'm trying to hammer that (two boards, wide grip reverse band, cgbp, floor press). That's kind of what people mean when they say that progress on Westside can be initially slow, yet pay large dividends later.

And x2 on working with a group or partner of some experience. I wish I had that myself but around where I live people don't know much about PL if they've heard of it.

Edit: I lift raw.


I'll sum this up as quick as I can.

Choose any lift and tell me where you are the weakest. Unless you're a genetic freak, it's going to be at the bottom of the lift. We have better leverages at the top of any movement and shitty leverages at the bottom. Precisely why you see folks benching without bringing the bar all the way to their chest or doing 1/4 squats.

Now what do bands and chains do?
Accomodating resistance. They provide a heavier load where you have BETTER leverages and less load where you have shittier leverages. i.e. 300 lbs. bar weight + 100 lbs. chain = 300 lbs. at the bottom and 400 lbs. at the top of the movement.

Riddle me this...If you're a raw lifter and you can bench press 300 lbs...what happens when you throw 350 lbs. on the bar? The majority of the time you're going to get stapled at the bottom of the lift where your leverages are the shittiest. It's not often you see someone benching and they get halfway up and stall and can't lock it out, because the closer you move towards lockout, the better the leverages and the easier the lift becomes.

So if you're a raw lifter using bands or chains, how is the accomodating resistance helping you get stronger? It's helping you in all the wrong places IMHO. If you can't get 350 lbs. off of your chest, who cares if you can lock it out.

For an equipped lifter, the leverages are modified by the equipment. That 350 lbs. isn't as heavy off of the chest, the shirt gives them say 2-4" of support, so they need extra work 4" off of the chest all the way to lockout. Bands and chains basically SIMULATE equipped lifting to some extent.

If anything, bands for dynamic work could be helpful in teaching you to be explosive...plus I know how it is to be 16 years old and into something like powerlifting, the bands might be another tool that you can use to keep things fresh and fun...so use them, especially if you already bought them.

BUT, do your best to be smart about your training...think about what you are doing and why and how it's going to help you.


There is a force posture relationship when benching squatting and deadlifting. You are correct about the leverage being better at the top of the lift. That being said, I would say 90% of the lifts I have seen missed are in the last 1/4th of the movement. Not the bottom. Very rarely have I ever seen someone get stapled by a bench or a squat. This would only happen if your prgramming sucks.

When resistance is not accommodated, the exercise works the mechanical disadvantage of the lift, i.e. the bottom portion. The mechanical advantage, the lockout, is then underdeveloped because most of the energy available is utilized during the most stressful muscle action.

Even though this is the case for most of the athletes I have seen, everyone is different and different body sizes have different leverages. But, to completely write off bands and chains for max effort work is just not smart programming.


Bench - Problems locking out (triceps)
Deadlift - Problem getting it off the floor (need to learn 2 use leg drive, doing decifits)
Squat - I just started squatting wide and it seems the top is beginning to become harder. However, when I did narrow stance I got stapled at the bottom.