T Nation

Westside Questions!


Okay, I've decided to spend the next couple of months training Westside style. I've never concentrated on powerlifting before, so I have some questions that may be pretty obvious to those of you (Goldberg, Steve Coppola, Machine, etc.) who are more familiar with this type of training than I am. But I figured if I've got questions, probably there are some others out there who are wondering the same thing. So I decided to start this as a sort of "Westside Support Thread", a la the threads of yore. So if you've got a question relating to this type of training, let's hear it. I'll start us off:

I've been doing box (actually bench) squats for the past week for the first time. I understand the principle pretty well (back arched, sit back, stay tight, etc.), I think, but one thing is bugging me. Is it really necessary to have one's shins at a 90 degree (or better) angle to the floor at the bottom of the movement? I saw Goldie's pic and it looks like his are, and I've seen a lot of discussion about the point, but if I sit back far enough to have my shins at the "proper" angle, I have to bend forward almost double to get the weight moving when I come up.

It feels like this is just a matter of balance, but I'm wondering if maybe it's just an extreme lack of hamstring strength that's the cause. Anyway, any thoughts are appreciated.



Your hamstrings are weak. It also takes practice. When i first started i couldnt sit back that good. The amount you bend over is very individualized. Strengthen your hamstrings and practice and it will get easier. And tape yourself so you can see how well you are doing it. You might also want to raise your box some and lower it as your strength improves.


Yes, weak hamstrings. Your shins should be parallel or even past if possible.

I'm new to WS myself, and it does take some getting used to. GHRs are key.


I don't have any questions at this point , i'm sure i will, but its a good topic Char-dawg. I'll be lurking.

Guru X



I've never done them(box squats) but I reckon there is a point where it is simply impossible to stand up if the weight is to far back, it's a matter of physics, right? you'll reach a point where you simply can't counter balance the weight, and no matter how strong you are, you'll simply fall on your butt.

Interested here what the pro's say.



You should attempt to keep those shins straight. You might have to take your weight down until the hamstrings and hips strengthen.


Box squats are not a quad exercise, they are a posterior chain exercise.

Eventually your posterior chain will become strong enough to sit back so your shins are at or past 90 degrees. Until you strengthen up, try to sit back as far as possible. Different people bend over to different degrees due to their body mechanics.



Ok, now that the big dogs are here, can someone please explain to me the Dimmell DL. And what makes it better/worse than a standard deadlift? I've been looking around for it but the search engine in here never works for me. Thanks for the help.


Start at the top of a normal DL, stick your ass back and lower the bar to just below your knees and reverse the motion quickly. Pop your hips through at the top. Repeat..

Its like a high-speed, plyometric, partial DL..


A Dimel Deadlift is done just like a conventional deadlift with a couple of changes. Take a grip on the rings and assume your conventional deadlift stance. Pull the weight to the top and quickly lower it to just below the knees. Push the butt back on the way down and quickly reverse to the top. Pop the hips through at the top. These are done very fast. I do 15 or 20 within 20 seconds or so. use somewhere between 30% and 40%. Do these for high reps of 15 to 20.



I haven't started West-side yet but I know box squats. The idea behind box squats is to get you to understand of the basic principles.....

Which is "sitting back" not squatting down. If you look at world class lifters, their shins/ankles don't move first or at all!! The movement starts from the hips.

Yes, it takes some getting used to,but once you make the switch you will effectively be using all of your lower body to squat and mainly the powerful posterior chain, not just your quads.


Char dawg,

Keep a tight arch throughout the whole movement. Concentrate on kranking your chest up. You shouldn't have to bend all that much from the waist to get up.
It's more like a slight lean.

Work on goodmornings, pull throughs reverse hypers and ghr.



FYI for Char - Be sure you're reading Tate's "Eight Keys" series at T-mag. Part I is up now:


This should be the most complete Westside series ever published. Part II will run this Friday. Looks like it's going to be a four parter, but each part after the first is huge!


I agree with what's been said. It's likely due to weak hamstrings and lack of experience doing box squats. The more you do them, the better you'll get. It might also be wise to stay conservative for awhile with the weight and learn to sit back, past 90 degrees knee/shin angle. Add some GHR's and Reverse Hypers into your program, if you're not already, and you'll get strong in the posterior chain real fast.


What percentage of weight should one be using for DE days?



If your having trouble sitting back, don't worry. Once you get going on them, you'll instinctively sit back enough. Also, you should have someone watch you when your coming off the box. 2 main reasons for this are: checking to see what you are working. You want to have your glutes flex off the box, not your quads. 2nd reason is to see if your knees bend in when you drive off the box. If they bend in, your hams/hips are weak. The westside seminar video pointed this out with one individual, and put a band around his waist and knees while low box squat position, and forced his knees out. It seemed to help his squat, but obviously didn't fix it completely, but a few good weeks of band work for the hips would probably fix it.

You probably understand why you want to go 90+ degrees, but it's so important as I found out with my buddy who trains with me. He simply didn't sit back enough for the first 4 weeks, then I took awhile to help him fix it, and now his squats are a lot better, and he is going about 100 degrees now. Very important to overload those glutes and hamstrings.

Good luck char ... it's some fun shit.



they dynamic percentages can range from 45-65%. I usually stick with 47-55 when working with bands.


Your build can definitely influence the difficulty of the correct box squat. I'd guess you probably have long femurs so it'll be difficult, you'll probably have to take quite a wide stance in order to get your shins straight, no matter how strong your hamstrings are. Also make sure you're sitting back and on the box not just touching the box and rising back up. Attempt to keep your torso upright while you sit down and release the hip flexors, you'll probably have to roll back on the box a bit until your torso is vertical. Whenever you come up you have to make sure you push more out to the sides with your feet and not straight down...pushing straight down will make you do what you described, bending over forward with the bar...pushing to the sides will allow you to rise straight up and also hit the muscles you need to work.


Damn good thread.....I just subscribed so let's keep it coming.


Damn! One day and all these replies! Shakes himself

Okay, first of all, thanks very much for all the responses. I definitely have some thinking to do about my form here. I feel that my hamstrings are probably weaker than they should be, but on the other hand I tried sitting "back" with no weight and couldn't stand back up without bending over. So I think that a large part of what's wrong is probably my stance, as Kelly pointed out. I've been trying to do the box squats with more or less the same stance that I use for my regular bbing squats (legs fairly close together), and I think that's going to have to change. I'll try something wider next time out. (And yes, I do have long femurs.)

Okay, next question: partial deadlifts. These are done at the top half of the movement (I assume...), but how far down should one go? To the knees? Just below the knees? To some other point? Mix it up?

And, on a related note: when talking about good mornings, does a good morning "count" if your upper body is parallel to the floor at the bottom of the movement, or is it at some other point?

Thanks again, and let's keep this thread going.