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Westside for OL'ers


I want to use the Westside template to develop a training template for Olympic Weightlifting. Any feedback to the following modifications, would be greatly appreciated.
I was planning on making three changes:
1. ME Lower - Snatch/Clean High Pulls, variations.
2. ME Upper - Overhead pressing (press/jerks)
3. DE Lower/Sport Specific - Snatch/Cleans variations, plus Front Squats.

Any suggestions/feedback? Thanks.


Just wondering, why are we trying to take a powerlifter's routine and adapt it for use with Olympic lifting, rather than taking a "template" from an Olympic lifter? If you wander around Dan John's site (which you can probably find at the bottom of most of his articles), you can find a ton of feasible program ideas.

Anyway, if we're adapting Westside, I'd throw front squats to ME Lower day, and use something like drop snatches or a snatch/overhead squat combo on DE Lower day.

I'd put the high pulls as an upper body assistance exercise, and consider using power snatches and cleans (from the hang) on ME Upper day, and the full lifts on DE Upper day. The overhead pressing could go either as an assistance movement, or a ME Upper move, depending on your mood.

This might be a solid question for Thib, and I think he's due on tonight for Prime Time.


There is an old MILO artical by Louie simmons called How I would train an oly lifter or something like that . It was posted last year, when Dave Tate and Jim Wendler had a guest forum here on T-Mag. Just as a side note Dave Tate has said that everything that westside is came from oly lifting in russia (theroies and practices).
Good luck


Now I'm not trying to criticize anyone here, but I've been thinking about it lately, and if Louie Simmons took his ideas from Soviet literature based largely on Olympic lifting protocols, wouldn't it make sense to study what he took his ideas from? I mean it seems to me liking having A, making B from A, and then trying to remake A from B. Why not just go to the original A?

Maybe I'm missing something. I feel that I am, but I don't know.

thanks and take care


o-liting already seems like a mix of dynamic and max effort at the same time.


If B was made from A, then B was improved upon, you could possible make a better A from the improved B, right?


I've thought about these also. Interestingly, the Soviets have almost completely abandoned the approach that Louie Simmons used to base his system on. And he based much of it on misinterpretations of the Soviet research, yet he came up with the most successful "system" ever. Also, while 60% of a max squat might be good for DE work, 70% of a max clean (I believe which he suggested)in the article would be very very light for an exercise that is already "dynamic", at least for anyone who's not very elite already. Then again, with a bench shirt and squat suit, these lifts become more of a "launch" through the sticking point as well.

The successful European programs have maintained the following:

Use 70-90% for multiple sets and reps. If you slow down, your going to heavy.

Use supplemental lifts to build up the supportive structures-shoulder girdle, abdomen, posterior chain. And due to the fact that they all have tended toward anthropomorphic homogeneity, the squat has become in many cases the only supplemental strength move used. Some do Goodmornings, RDL, Front squat, but only up to about 120% of max clean.


Minotaur, thanks for your comments. Let me first let me clarify something, I am modifing the Westside for Skinny Bastards template (different from Dave Tate's Westside), which is a template for Athletes, not specifically powerlifters. Having said that, part of my goals are to improve overall strength, not just in the Olympic lifts, but in the Squat and overhead press (see my comments below about the Louie Simmons article). Plus I would like to add some mass, more so then some Weightlifters. The programs on Dan's site, which are excellent, are not necessarily condusive (based on volume) to adding mass.

I also wanted to address the comment about Louie Simmon's article in Ironmind, "What if". I have a copy of that article, and he is basically promoting increasing overall strength in core assistance exercises ie Squats/Pressing, plus focus on weak areas, and less emphasis technical lifts. His reasoning is that too much focus has been placed on the technical lifts, leading to overdevelopment of these muscles. Unfortunately this is a general article and not specific parameters for developing a training program.

I'm still open for comments and suggestions. Thanks.


Sounds like you're more interested in doing a Westside style routine with o-lifts used once in a while to learn them than doing a full-blown olympic lifting training program - am I right? If so, I'd follow a standard westside template but use power cleans/snatches instead of speed squats and gravitate more towards full squats/front squats on ME days.



Thanks for your comments Dan. I want to always keep O-lifts, to some extent, in whatever program I follow, since I want to, and do compete. But at this stage of my life, I won't be an elite lifter, so I want to balance that out with making progress in areas other then the technical lifts, ie. Squat, presses, etc., and just keep improving in general. That's what I like about the WSSB template, you can substitute lifts that fit your choosen sport, and at the same time improve other areas. Hope that makes sense.



Why dont you send this question to elite fitness and ge the answear from horses' mouth?


Good suggestion. I'll see if I can get a response.


I was thinking something along those lines too. I guess one would really have to try the revised A to see if it was better than the original, but it seems lacking to me somehow.

First, the Soviets made a science out of it. The depth many of their books on the subject is really impressive so I feel it would be fairly difficult to improve on that same system to any significant degree. Second, O-lifting records haven't really progressed since the Soviet was at its peak. Third, and from what experience I have in competeing with O-lifting, working with 70% of your max is way different than 80-85 plus. The carryover is simply not that great in terms of technique. However, having said all that Wichita Falls is having good success with Louie's idea from what I understand.

The other thing too, is what Mertdawg pointed out. Much of the international competition has completely gone away from the Soviet style--although I'm not really sure how China trains. I've never heard much about them.

Here's the other interesting thing to me. I don't feel squatting Westside style is necessary or efficient for a Olympic lifter--even for variety. This is somewhat personal. But if the tales are to be believed, and some of the training hall tapes support this, some of the superheavy weight O-lifters (at least in the past) easily squat over 800 deep every day without using different bars or depths or boxes or stances.

Really from what I know of O-lifters, I can't help but feel being fast/ explosive in and of it self will simply make you very strong.

Anyways, just some thoughts. No real science or anything. Just personal experience.



I believe the actual title of Louie Simmons OL article Is "What If?" just in case you need a reference.

Pete Arroyo


You must not thunk of using the "routine" as much as using the "concepts." As stated before much of Louie's ideas were spawned from practical experiments and research done in Russia and Bulgaria years ago when OL was the only strength sport around.
Recently Jim wendler wrote a short article on why one should olympic lift. Even though he does not delve into concepts for competitve lifters one point did indeed stand out regarding the dynamic method. Jim claims that since the nature of oly lifts is explosive then the dynamic percentages must be raised from that of there PL counterparts. I would agree because if one were to use 40-50% of a clean or snatch max (Let's say 300 lbs.) then it would like using a wiffle ball (150 lbs.) to develope throwing power for a baseball player. The dynamic wieght in this case would be too light. I would also suggest doing your dynamic pulls and variants at a block height below your sticking point to raise your RFD.

Pete Arroyo


I have contemplated the same thing in the past. Here were my thoughts:

  1. Instead of having bench and sq/dl days, you should have Snatch and clean/jerk days. Keep the DE/ME days.

  2. Use exercises for your ME days that RESEMBLE the competition lifts and are designed to develope a certain aspect of the competition lift.My thoughts were:

For the snatch:
snatch pulls from a box, the floor and standing(more like a power shrug).

Power snatchs from a box/floor/standing

and full snatches from a box/standing. NOT A FULL SNATCH FROM THE FLOOR!!

for cleans:
Clean pulls from box/floor/standing

power cleans from box/floor/standing

and full cleans from box/standing

Follow these with 1 exercise for each muscle group involved with the snatch/clean/jerk.

IE: front squats, RDL's, Ab work etc...

  1. On DE day I would:
    do 5x2 of speed squats, no box, full depth cycleing through band, chain and free weight Ala westside.

Followed by
5x2 of the competition lift with ~70% of 1rm. You may have to play with the percentage.

Again, folow with 1 exercise for each muscle group involved with the lift.

  1. Now the overhead work is what got to me. Again, my idea was to do 1 exercise for increasing overhead strength each session. On snatch days you might consider snatch grip Behind the neck presses. On dynamic day for the C&J you might actually do Jerk presses. On the ME day you might rotate through exercises for a 5RM. Some ideas might be:
    DB overhead press, Strict BB overhead presses, seated presses, squat jerks, etc..

That should get ya started. Good luck.



Let me first say that I only tried power versions of OL lifts and I'm completely self-taught. And, not very strong to be honest. But, based on stuff I've read, rather than my own expirience, doing OL on a WSB template would be rather pointless.

The two most important points seem to be:

(1) O-lifts are very technical
(2) O-lifts are inherently explosive

(1) means it is practically impossible to establish a connection between, say, max box squat and max clean. In other words, you simply can't rotate through different ME lifts - and then try a max clean on competition platform.

(2) means that having DE work is unneccessary, as every rep of O-lift, even at 90-100%, targets RFD.

Both basic and advanced templates for OL that I have seen usually include frequent perfomance of the main lifts, possibly some variants of them. There's usually squatting involved each session. And with lack of eccentric work and also lack of grinding reps (which are much more common in PL), it makes sense that OLers can recover faster and thus, train same lifts more often.

As for the Louie's article, it is rather old. I have seen two or three detailed criticisms of it on other forums, and I can probably find them again and repost here, it someone's interested.

As far as I remebmer, the main issue was that many of Louie's assertions are actually false. For instance, some OL coaches claimed that US lifters were actually as strong or even stronger in assistance lifts then their counterparts, but couldn't do as well on the platform. Another issue was relatively small talent pool for OL in US.

Just my opinion.


The easiest way to think of it is to basically even out the workload for both dedicated lifts.

So, if your DE squat day is utilizing 10 sets I would bring it down to 5 or 6 sets and use the remainder sets on your olympic movement....


I agree almost completely with this.


The size of the talent pool for O-lifting in the U.S. is a really big factor that I had forgotten about until Slotan mentioned it.

Whereas in the old Soviet Union the olympic sports, and weightlifting in particular seemed to be common, were the sports kids choose from, here in the U.S. kids play basketball, baseball, football, etc.

Imagine some of the football players we have if they had trained on O-lifting from kids as they do in the countries we're discussing. I mean many NFL linemen run sub 5 forties, and while I no that doesn't guarantee a huge clean and jerk, it does imply a huge degree of explosiveness.

However, I too would trade in a gold medal for a 9 million dollar a year contract.

take care