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Westside Only for Advanced???

I've always wondered why so many people say that you should only use the westside barbell template if you're an advanced trainee.  It's just every time I've made a post mentioning I'm doing the westside template, at least one person in the thread says it's too advanced for me usually saying I won't be able to recover from it.  Now I haven't been on it that long (5 training weeks, one deload), but I've noticed I actually recover faster from this than I did from Wendler's 5/3/1.

 I think 5/3/1 didn't work out great for me because I have poor recovery to high volume on compound lifts and joints suffer from high volume compound lifts too.  Is the reason some say the westside template is for the advanced because maybe these people don't recover well from high intensity lifts?  Were they unable to find out their weak points and thus be unable to train them?  Did they bastardize the program?  Or did these people not even try the Westside template?  I'm certainly not just completely dismissing some people's claim because there have been some strong guys on the board that advised against westside for me, but on the other hand there have been strong guys that said go for it. I'm going to stick with it for at least through the summer and see how lifts have come along.

Cliffnotes: I'm asking why the westside template is or is not a good template for someone in the beginner/intermediate stage (1-4 years experience lifting).


Westside requires a knowledge of:

Weaknesses and how to address them
How to avoid injuries
Familiarity with a rotation of lifts
Restraining your ego and not nearly maxing out all the time
What works in improving your lifts (frequency, bands, chains, accessory lifts, loading parameters, intensity/periodization, programming)

And this is just from my little experience with it (6 weeks) where I ended up going nowhere in my lifts and screwed up my elbows for a short time. I didn't have the experience/know-how to utilize this template effectively. Maybe you're smart enough to do it off the bat. I wasn't. Hopefully someone who actually knows how to implement Westside effectively for them can chime in.


It's not only for advanced. I wouldn't recommend it for someone training alone though. It definitely works best in a team environment.


How much do you think is lost by not working out in group doing westside template? Do you think it can still be done successfully solo? If so, what would it take? I know it's a lot questions so if you can answer any of them, I'd be very appreciative.


Well, how can you really push yourself on ME without spotters? That and you need someone knowledgeable watching you lift. They can point out technique issues, weak spots, etc. I honestly think for 99.99% of the people training alone is going to limit you no matter what program you're on. There's a reason the vast majority of top powerlifters are training with a group of powerlifters.


The spotters thing is usually no big deal, I just look for a guy as strong/as big or stronger than me for a spot. I always ask where I was struggling on the lift too. It can be kinda hard to figure out technique issues. For that, I go by feel and what I read on the site here. But hey.... If I figured out how to do a legit power snatch on my own, I figure there isn't much that I can't figure out on my own. But yeah, I definately miss working out with hardcore powerlifting group. I learned so much about form, especially in the deadlift and bench.


First let me say that I agree with what you are saying here. I would like to add a different point of view to some of your points for folks like myself who lift in 'less than optimum' conditions...

How do I push myself with out spotters? I lift in a power rack so that I won't kill myself when I bomb out on a lift.

Sure spotters can point out flaws, assuming they know what to look for. MOST guys I have worked with squat less than me, which is sad but it is what it is.

The only thing 'limiting' me is me. Sure I don't have a bad ass crew of 'experts' to guide me and to kick my ass so I have to work harder to get to the same goal..big deal, that shit builds character. Ultimately I am only going to lift what I can lift regardless of where or who I train with.

And to the Op, no I don't think westside is only for Advanced folk....advance folk will rotate their exercises more frequently than an intermediate or beginner and they will do more specialized accessory exercises whereas 'we' would stick to basic stuff.


If you're not going to wear multi-ply equipment there are about 1 million better options than training westside.



Why? I'm not trying to be antagonistic, I just want to know why you feel that way.


Wow, you must know of about 999,950 more training templates than I do.


I think one of the issues is how much you can lift verses how long you have been training. If you can bench your bodyweight for 12+ reps and 1RM at least 1.5 times your body weight, then Westside might be one of the better programs for you. That is because you are pushing weights that will do damage to joints and connective tissue if you don't use deloading and speed work. Just going in and doing 5x5 once or twice a week or going to or near failure on every set may not work as well for you as it might for someone pushing a lot less weight.

Another way to think of it is, if you can only bench 100 pounds, then doing speed work with 50% of your 1RM is probably useless.


Really? Amy Weisberger set a raw all-time WR. Becky Rich trains at my gym. She has a raw all-time WR too. It seems to work just fine for raw lifters. I think it just has a stigma to most raw lifters, so they won't try it.


How many athletes ever excel at a sport without coaching? Every sport has coaches that are there to make athletes better. Why should powerlifting be different?


I agree with PC but I disagree with this question on principle until somebody tells me specifically what "training westside" even means. It has become quite the catch-all term. I think it means this:

  • working up to a 1-3 RM every week in a squat or deadlift variation and a bench variation
  • variations are cycled every 1-3 weeks
  • speed squats or pulls and speed bench on two other days
  • no rep work for core lifts
  • no volume work for core lifts (not counting speed work)

This is what I got out of Dave Tate's article series from like 7-8 years ago, but I have no clue what Westside does now, so I am probably not qualified to argue either way.


If you can only bench 100 pounds it would make no sense benching heavy.

Damage connective tissue .... what? I benchpress more than what you're talking about, I bench 4 times a week. Oh no, I'm gonna die. I do use speed day once a week, but I do not deload.



More power to you, but I have to deload every 4th to 7th week or my joints are on fire and I'm just under 1.5xbw on that lift. Maybe it's because I have a small frame, but I know from experience that if I don't I'm going to be in pain, increase chance of injury, and regress on lifts for just about any program that I give it my all on.


To the OP...

If you want to, give westside a try, whats it gonna hurt? take 12 weeks and do it.

-Take a week and test all your maxes, try to find the same spotter every time that you know you can count on. If you can try to film your lifts so you can better see weak points in technique and strength
-After youve done this look at your weak spots and try to figure out what lifts and assistance work you can do to bring them up, if your bench is bad at lockout, focus on that and so on.
-Pick excercises and you know will bring up your lifts by smashing the sticking points. Dont just do random shit.
-The equipment youre gonna want to use would be bands, chains, band deadlift platform, and squat box. If you dont have that then you can still do it, but it wont be as effective.

From what ive personally got out of westside was decent, but it was harder for me because i was not advance enough to pick the right excercises, thats key. Thats the reason why westside isnt great for most people on their own, without proper coaching or training.

Know your weaknesses, know the lifts that you know that will bring them up, and know how to put them together in a ME cycle


In my experience, WS works great for beginner/intermediate. It's how I started. I trained alone, in a commercial gym, and used little or no support gear. I went from a high low-300s squat, low 200s bench, no deadlift to a 405 parallel box squat, 335 bench, and 515 pull in about a year as a 30 year-old drug-free hobbyist. I still kind of train ala Westside, but I skip speed days or switch out speed days for reps on a as-needed basis. I almost always work up to a max on ME days and change lifts from week to week.

Max effort work will make you strong. The variety allows you to continue to make progress even when maxing out weekly and keeps things fun and fresh. DE days allow you to hone your form and exposiveness on thecomptitve lifts. These key aspects of WS are true for a guy with a 1000 lb total just like they are for a guy with 2500 lb total.


no matter your program , there will always be someone telling you that you should be doing something different .


Plenty of raw lifters do it. The MAJORITY of the best raw lifters at the top don't. There is a reason for that.