View Full Version : Westside/Speed training for beginners

07-09-2006, 10:25 PM
I am a fairly experienced lifter (3-4 years doing mostly bodybuilding/sports type stuff), but inexperienced powerlifter. I read some articles by Louie Simmons on the theory behind a "speed day" and a "max effort day". A lot of it was somewhat difficult to understand, but I'm trying to put togethor a sample program based on his articles.

Monday (speed day)
135x3, 8 sets
140x2 8 sets
Tricep Work
Back work
Should more sets be done/is the set rep scheme generally right? Also if I understood correctly, the most important thing is keeping the barspeed high and technique good?

Tuesday (Squat Speed Day)

Thursday (bench max effort day)
This is the one I dont understand. Should i do a series of singles of around 90 percent of my max, or doubles, or what?

Friday (Squat/Dead Max effort day)

In general, how would you all reccomend doing max effort days in this system? Also, do you think it is wise for a beginner to even try westside training at all, or are there better systems for beginners to start with?
Thanks a lot

07-09-2006, 10:37 PM
You know what man, I think you have the base of the Westside theory right. However, test it and make your own adjustments on what works for your body. Some people get gains on tonnes of volume, some don't. For example, my DE SQ day consists of 5 sets of 2, and my DE BP day consists of 6 sets of 3 plus very little assistance work. My ME SQ/DL is one exercise working up to a max single (as heavy as possible, until I fail) and the same for ME BP. I found that any more work will make me overtrain. On the other hand, you got guys like Chuck doing 15 sets of 3 on DE BP day, followed by, i dunno, 10-12 sets of lats. Just keep reading the articles, try stuff out and once you find what works for you, the gains won't stop. For a few different perspectives, check out the Q&A section on Elitefts.com and you can see how some of those guys train. Hope this helps.

07-10-2006, 01:17 AM
On Max effort day you do just that - max out. Work out to a really heavy single, double, or triple - whatever you choose. For instance on squat it may look something like this...

185 x 3, 235 x 3, 280 x 3, 320 x 3

You may want to add more/less warmup sets, but whatever you do don't just get under the bar and max out. Also keep in mind that whatever movement you're doing for ME day, you'll want to CHANGE every two (maybe three) weeks. For instance you could do pin presses for bench for two weeks, then floor press, then incline press, then regular press.... etc etc. The point is that if you stay on one movement for more than two or three weeks your central nervous system will be fried, and you're maxes will start decreasing. Also, in general you won't want to work the entire range of motion on ME day - though if you're a beginner this won't matter as much. For instance an elite powerlifter who has a 700 lb deadlift won't want to work the full range of motion, even if its just for two weeks - its two stressful on the CNS. However for a "beginner" (i.e., maybe you're only deadlifting 350 or so) it won't play as large of a role.

Westside also puts a lot of emphasis on good mornings. they love good mornings. So do these along with your lower body day. Oh, and on your DE day, most advocate doing "Box squats" for speed. Squat down to a box (Under control!) thats maybe a few inches below parallel. Pause for a second, then explode up! Its important not to bounce off the box, this is horrible for your spine.

Honestly, I tried westside for three months last summer and had modest results. Don't get me wrong, its a great program - but its designed for elite powerlifters, especially some of the more advanced aspects (Heavy bands, chains, etc, aren't going to produce amazing results when you're benchign 220). When I started westside I had been lifting for about a year, and I was benching 180, squating 285, and I don't remember what my deadlift was. After three months I was benching 195 and squatting 305. Those are pretty good results, but I could have recieved them from many other, much simplier programs. Westside works partly because it hones in on your weaknesses and elimates whatever your sticking point is - its great for an elite lifter. However if you're fairly new your weakness may be you're entire range of motion and your sticking points may not be that pronounced.

Westside is also beneficial because it incorporates speed days, something that is integral if you're pressing 400 pounds. Even then, 200 pounds for speed is diffficult. However if you're max bench is 200, that means for your dynamic effort day you'll be using 100 pounds. Not excactly as beneficial. If I could go back in time I would have done something a little simpler. For instance now I'm doing a 5 x 5 system - 3 sets of progressivly harder warmups, then 2 working sets of five. Maybe one more or one less working set - I vary it up once my progress starts to hinder. But whatever - You can look up the 5 x 5 system if you want, its nothing new (PM me if you wish). Good luck if you choose westside, you'll get good results, but for a beginner it may not be the most efficient way from A to B.

07-10-2006, 04:47 PM
Cool, thanks for the advice guys. I'll stick to the program I'm on now until it stops giving me gains (for the last month I've been focusing on breaking my 7 rep max for bench, squat and deadlift, then the next workout hitting a higher one rep max, using a lot of training to failure), then experiment with a somewhat simplified westside program. one more question though, do you think its beneficial to incorperate speed days into non-westside lifting programs? in other words, is the speed day something unique to westside training, or does everybody work speed training in? thanks

07-10-2006, 05:24 PM
Personally, and this is just my opinion, if you're a competitive powerlifter--speed is essential. If you're slow out of the hole or slow off the chest, you'll get buried. On the other hand, if you're not competing in powerlifting, there's no real need for speed. Just my 2 cents.

07-10-2006, 06:24 PM
Yes, speed is essential in powerlifting, but in my opinion it only starts to play a large role once you get to a certain level. For instance, I don't think speed days are going to help that much if you're only benching 200 lbs. However, you should make a note to still do all of your lifts as explosively as possible.

Incorporating speed days, however, really depends on your goals. If you're lifting for athletics, then I would definatly incorporate speed days, though I wouldn't focus as much on the big 3. instead, sprints, snatches, and powercleans would be more beneficial. If you are really interested inthe sport of powerlifting, however, go for it - though keep in mind that lifters have been making huge gains before anyone ever thought of dynamic effort days.