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View Full Version : Novice looking for a nudge in the right direction



AlexH
03-08-2013, 03:46 AM
I started lifting late in life (im 27 now) entirely recreationally, and spent the past few years pissing around in the weight room, running short linear cycles with no real goal at all apart from "lift heavier". As a result im weak as all hell (110kg squat, 85kg bench, 140kg deadlift). This is entirely down to a lack of discipline on my part, and i got sufficiently fed up with it to do something constructive about it. I've hammered the gym, my diet, made everything habit to the point of it being a reflex action. I feel now im able to take training seriously and get some real results.

I hope to compete in PL at some point, regardless of my age and how late i am to the game i just want to see how far i can get on grit and determination. Maybe not very far but who knows? It'll be awesome trying.

I'd read a lot about westside, but iv avoided trying out the template as everything id read about the method was accompianied by "not for beginners". Which i guess is a fair enough statement, at such an early stage in someones training development it seems any method will bring their numbers up, and repeating the competition lifts is important to drill technique, rather than rotating (i would imagine, obviously i cant speak from experience). It never pays to be coached by the internet so i've stayed in the "safer" regions of simple linear progression.

However now i've been reading a lot of the threads on this board and i'm starting to think that the conjugate method could be applied to someone with my numbers. Am i making the classic beginner mistake of wanting to overcomplicate things, or is there some merit in considering undertaking a westside style program?

I've made some notes on the modifications i think would be appropriate for a novice, but before i even post any of that - am i going down the right path here? Is westside right for me?

Thanks to anyone who cares to chime in.

Paulo_Santos
03-08-2013, 03:56 AM
If you are taught properly and done properly, Westside will work for anyone. People make it more complicated than it is.

GazzyG
03-08-2013, 05:16 AM
Westside works very well, Alex.

Don't worry about your age; I started at 25, now I'm 28. Sure, you might progress slower than someone who's 18/19, but in all honesty, it's more about calories and sensible training than age.

If you're serious about your training (which, you've got a 3plate Dead, so you must be) then start a journal in the Members Journals section of this site. Comment on some of the other people's threads and over time they will start to comment on yours, giving you constructive feedback and encouragement.

Now - get to it!

patricky
03-08-2013, 05:20 AM
I wouldn't recommend westside for a novice.
You need to build a base before you do max effort singles week in week out.
Especially for bench.

AlexH
03-08-2013, 05:59 AM
Patricky - thanks for your input, yes this has been my worry, i feel like my technqiue is OK (thats completely subjective though, i arch my back on the bench better than the bro's but i could be awful for all i know) but i know my strength is lacking. The point you make about building volume vs ME is very valid, i hope the modifications i intended to make (outlined below) will help with this, but at the end of the day if its a bad idea its a bad idea.

Gaz - Thanks a lot for the words of support mate (i grew up in notts funnily enough), yes a log is definitely the next thing to happen, it'll be a good incentive to keep at it as well.

Paul - again a worry of mine, i dont have a coach so there is a chance i could be implementing things completely incorrectly.

That said, here are the basic things i think as a novice i would have to change if i was to try and do a westside style template with any level of success. You can tell me if i am off the mark or not.

- Swap DE days for RE days, most probably 5x5 @70-80%. This is to practice the comp lifts under a good load and nail technique, as well as adding in some important volume. Also, at my level there is little need for speed work, especially at 50%.

- 2-3 weeks each ME movement, no bands/chains, mimic comp lifts as much as possible, and using a small pool of ME lifts.

Ideas are - squat, front squat, high bar squat, competition deadlift, sumo deadlift, deficit deadlift, competition bench, close grip bench, incline bench, floor press.

- build up work capacity slowly - use a maximum of 3 exercises (including main lifts) each workout plus abs, after a month or two add another exercise.

AlexH
03-08-2013, 11:40 AM
So based on the above and some further reading iv been ferociously doing, iv put together an idea of what the first 6 weeks would potentially look like.

Please, pick it apart with impunity.

EDIT - I want to give a quick explanation of the attached file actually. Just to be clear, the exercises were not picked out of a hat. For example, doing bodyweight back extensions is something i tried when rehabbing a low back injury (plus torturing myself with a hockey ball :P) and so i feel these will be effective at slowly building my low back.
The 2nd cycle i replace these with high rep good mornings so i can begin loading the movement. Probably in the 3rd cycle this will turn into a glute ham raise as i add more rowing into the RE days etc etc.
I have problems keeping my shoulders back on the bench, so i added in overhead pressing to teach me to keep my shoulder blades pinned and lats engaged while extending (i feel the overhead does this more so than on the flat bench), the sumo deadlift will be done with my feet the same width as my squat, and so on and so on.

This is another area i could be completely wrong on though, so feel free to blast at it if you think its dumb.

DontTakeEmOff31
03-09-2013, 04:37 PM
I wouldn't try and write your own program at this point, I would do one of the many out there that have been proven to work. A solid program and consistency will get you where you want to be.

5/3/1 is a great program for building a base, you've got a long way to go before worrying about anything more complicated linear progression. Do 5/3/1, focus on building muscle, and nailing down form.

MarcusWild
03-09-2013, 10:13 PM
Do you have a group to train with? I think it's very difficult to run Westside when you train solo. I'm not really sure how you can do max effort squats or benches without spotters. That said, if you want to compete in powerlifting then one of the best things you can do is get a group to train with.

AlexH
03-10-2013, 07:49 AM
I wouldn't try and write your own program at this point, I would do one of the many out there that have been proven to work. A solid program and consistency will get you where you want to be.

5/3/1 is a great program for building a base, you've got a long way to go before worrying about anything more complicated linear progression. Do 5/3/1, focus on building muscle, and nailing down form.

Yeah i certainly agree with this, i guess the was the whole reason i made this post was to try and avoid conjuring up a program on my own, although i see trying to employ westside methods as using a very proven system. 5/3/1 still prescribes you chose your own assistance for example.

My confusion comes i think from comments by people like Chris Mason - someone who is a hell of a lot stronger than me and who believes that conjugate periodization can and should be employed over linear periodization even for novices. He makes some very intelligent points to this effect as well.

But for every person that tells me conjugate is the way forward, another will say i should stick with linear.

Mind. Blown.

I really appreciate the input though, i think 5/3/1 may well be bettered suited to me in fact, because.....


Do you have a group to train with? I think it's very difficult to run Westside when you train solo. I'm not really sure how you can do max effort squats or benches without spotters. That said, if you want to compete in powerlifting then one of the best things you can do is get a group to train with.

Nope :( which makes me think something that is slightly easier to implement (more prescribed at least) would be a better choice, westside makes me think you really need an experienced lifters eye on your performance to make intelligent choices regarding programming and special exercise selection.

Regarding the 1rm thing with no spotters, there is a squat rack at my gym at least, although just a flat bench with no pins so i normally end up asking someone else to do a quick spot on heavier sets. Also i intended to use a 3-5 rep max on ME days, something which a few people (joe defranco for one) have suggested for beginners using conjugate programs.

Disregarding all that though you make a really good point - at some point i should look to training with people stronger than me.

Thanks for the input guys!

AlexH
03-12-2013, 08:12 AM
I hate bumping a thread, and so many guys here have given such a good advice already, only problem is im still confused and the answers given as you can see are 50/50 still.

Hoping a pro will take pity and save me from this paralysis by analysis.

Sorry guys not trying to sound ungrateful for the advice already given, it has all been taken in and considered.

Travis Bell
03-12-2013, 08:39 AM
Westside is fine for beginners but without the proper instruction and guidence you will get lost quickly.

If you don't have training partners, a pre written program would be your best bet.

You've gotten some solid advice in here. Quit looking for an answer that tells you what you want to hear and take the advice.

DontTakeEmOff31
03-12-2013, 09:59 AM
Westside is fine for beginners but without the proper instruction and guidence you will get lost quickly.

If you don't have training partners, a pre written program would be your best bet.

This is the reason you should do a pre-written program. Unless you really know what you are doing, you will get lost in Westside.

Buy the 5/3/1 book, give it a read and get started. It's simple and will get you moving forward, that is all you need right now.

AlexH
03-12-2013, 11:38 AM
You've gotten some solid advice in here. Quit looking for an answer that tells you what you want to hear and take the advice.

I appreciate your advice Travis, i really wasnt fishing for some kind of green light to do westside, i wasnt attached to the idea, just lost between people saying its ok for beginners and others not.

What i was i was missing, which i admit DontTakeEmOff and Marcus did already post, was that one lone lifter without experience will make a hash of it before long.

So thanks guys for laying it out for me straight.

theBarzeen
03-16-2013, 08:29 PM
I'm not sure how nobody has mentioned this yet..... but go find a team to train with!

You could spend days reading all the programming out there and trying to fit it to your needs, then hope that you are doing everything right and your form is okay, work your ass off, and maybe you'll end up the strongest guy at your commercial gym.... I've been there and done that.

I competed in 2007 and totalled 1315 lifting by myself. I had no clue but I worked hard to get here.
I started lifting with the Frantz team a few months later. They corrected my form, taught me how to correctly use a bench shirt and squat suit, taught me how to set up my training, and pushed me to be my best.
In 2008 I went 1890
2009 went 2080
2010 went 2350
2011 went 2400+

So, I'm nothing special and my genetics suck, but my teammates have taken me from a gym rat to something at least respectable on the platform. I never could have done this by myself. Any team will be able to push you, coach you, program for you, and make you a better lifter.