Hi everyone, I've been reading threads here for a couple months. I'm a intermediate trainee with a couple meets under my belt. I plan on continuing to compete RAW and I'm looking for a good way to make steady progress. I've spent the last couple years piecing together my own programs with mixed success. The last year I've really been spinning my wheels.
I'm ready to give an established system a good 12 month try. I train by myself, sometimes 3x/week sometimes 4. My scheduled makes it hard to get in all my workouts.
It looks like there are many westside proponents here. Obviously westside produces results but is it realistic to do without a regular training partner or partners? I have to gym hop throughout the week and only one of the gyms I use has any specialty bars, chains, GHR, ect... I can realistically make this gym once a week (although I have considered buying 5/8in chain to bring with me to the home town gym, I do have some bands already).
5/3/1 seems like a good option, lots of flexibility, I can get the workouts in at most gyms. However I tried 5/3/1 for a number of months last year and only my squat seemed to be progressing (it did work well for my squat). Admittedly I may have pushed the top sets to much, I went for max reps most every workout except deload weeks.
So my question is- based on my situation having me gym hop (no hope for a good training partner in the immediate future) what would you recommend a raw lifter do?
BTW, I'm 30 years old with a few solid years of training under my belt. 6' 215 lbs, average recovery. Longer arms and legs. Current total is about 1300 raw.
5/3/1: I think its great for squats and deads, but I dont feel like it worked nearly as well for my bench and military. That being said, if you have a very busy schedule I think its the perfect program. If you hit the required reps on your sets, hit a max rep or heavy set when your feeling good, and get in whatever other accessory stuff you can EVERY WEEK, you cant go wrong and in the long run will get good results. You simply cant go wrong with working with manageable weights, on the basic lifts.
Westside: You can do it alone. No problem. Just set the safety pins close and bench in a power rack. For me atleast the workouts take longer in general but also have a lot more "setting up time" that makes them take longer. Also because YOU are choosing your ME and supplemental lifts, as well as the weight actually lifter there is more guess work for you. Thats fine if you are with a good group of guys who can spot your weaknesses and suggest what to do, but you could also waste time doing exercises that dont help you that much or just stuff you like. If you had all the time in the world, didnt mind the guess work, this program would probly be better.
If I was you, I would ditch em both and buy josh bryants ebook and try a few of HIS routines from it. THeres tons of templates in it and his programs from the book, have helped me raw strength more than anything I have tried.
They both work. I like 5/3/1 because you get to practice the actual lifts every week with good weight. You can always change up the assistance and/or add singles on some weeks. My log press and squat have loved 5/3/1. My Bench and DL have moved up slower but are still moving up in the right direction and I have added a good amount of muscle mass for someone lifting over 8-9 years.
I train at 3 different gyms: my garage on monday, 24 hour fitness on tuesday, and a crossfit gym on thursday (no I don't do CF wods there, I do what's on my training schedule).
In regards to 531 vs Westside, how do you like to train? What do you enjoy?
I like feeling heavy weight and pushing my limits and I enjoy speed work. It's a "fun" workout for me, despite how I may feel in the middle of it.
I've tried them both and I really enjoy westside. I train alone and I still do ME stuff all the time. I cycle my ME lifts so that I'm doing something different all time time. I use bands on my speed work and I focus on specific weaknesses that will make me perform better for my sport. That's how I train and I enjoy it.
I trained with 531 back in 2009 for about 4 cycles. If you follow 531 to a T, you aren't ever lifting heavy. Even on your 5/3/1 week, you aren't going over 85-90%. Sure, you can challenge yourself with rep PRs but that's boring IMO. I'd rather handle something heavy for a single or triple, rather than nail my 95% of my 90% max for 8-10 reps. The one thing I gained from this program which I did not from WS is size. I used the BBB method when training for 531 and it was just that, boring but big. 5 sets of 10 on a major lift just isn't fun, but it hits that hypertrophy range very well. With the right nutrition, you'll grow. You *CAN* do the same thing with WS, but it depends on programming (as does anything really). With my recent addition of RE work, I've seen similar gains.
So, it all comes down to personal preference. What kind of training tickles your fancy?
I would go with 5/3/1, I have made better gain with 5/3/1 in a year than in 3 years of WS.
I don't agree it comes down to preference. I think Westside is a program which will provide superior results for absolute strength. I think the principles and tenets of Westside provide for a near optimal result if the lifter adheres to them. The fact that Westside has had so many all-time bests and records with many different individuals attests to that.
I really liked Westside when I had time to devote to it. Now that I'm super busy, I like 5/3/1. I felt my bench responded better with Westside, while my lower body responded better with 5/3/1.
As a raw and intermediate myself, I have found that WS style training works better for me. I've tried other templates but I always come back to WS style. I used 531 for about 9 months last year and I can echo what some others have said - it didn't work too badly for my deadlift (in fact it worked pretty well) but my bench didn't move. I don't know that I can blame it all on the program but I know when I made the switch back to conjugate training, my bench took off and went from 280 to 325 over a few months. So whether 531 just doesn't work well for my bench press or that I didn't do it right, regardless, I responded well to WS so that's what I prefer. The trick to having raw success with WS is just in picking your exercises to suit your weaknesses as they relate to your style of lifting.
at around 215 with a 1300ish total, I might be in the minority, but I think you can still gain quite a bit on a more linear style approach (5/3/1), so I would try 5/3/1 and see how it goes. The conjugate method obviously works, but if you can still milk some linear gains, why not take advantage of it?
The conjugate system is great, but if a lifter is training by himself, it really is up to the lifter to learn to identify his weaknesses, which can be tough. Also, the beginner or intermediate lifter (not saying the OP would do this) will tend to use a rotation of ME lifts that they are good at, instead of working on their weaknesses.
I did westside for a bit and my bench went up and most importantly it's a hell of a lot of fun. Who doesn't like maxing out every week?
Deadlifts never went up. Maybe I was doing it wrong but no increase. I noticed some other people saying Westside wasn't that good for deads, whether that's true or not I don't know. But I alternated ME deadlift work for 6 weeks and it never went up. Compare that with the 7.5kg increase I had with Sheiko #40 in a month.
Also I think westside is pointless without a spotter. At least with a spotter if you fail then your body still thinks it's a rep completed.
Anyway it seems that the op doesn't have the correct training facility for it anyway.
Try Sheiko. I've had great results from it. Bench was stuck at 107.5kg for months using 5x5. Now I'm up to 132.5kg. With a 100kg log press.
3 days a week is all you need. I have the spreadsheet if you're interested.
Best lifts: 245kg deadlift, 162kg Front Squat, 145kg bench, 105kg log press, 250kg yoke carry, 115kg farmers, No. 2.5 Captains of crush
I've done both programs for 1 year + each and have suceeded and failed miserably with both. If you don't know what your weaknesses are then it will be hard to drive your main lifts up.
When I did Max Effort work with reverse band bench and Close grips for sets of 5 afterwards (thinking it would help my bench due to different movements I never used), my bench dropped a good bit. I realized that my weakness was not at lock out (which close grips and rev bands help with)
When I did 5/3/1 in the past and just blindly followed DB incline bench for 5 sets of 10 with same back work, my bench also dropped. I learned that doing these lifts, rep and set ranges, and going through the motions were not my weak points, keeping my bench stagnant.
IMO you need to experiment and find what movements help increase your strength, add muscle, and improve your performance. No program will work optimally if you don't know what you're lacking to become stronger.
Thanks for all the great responses! This is exactly the kinda feedback I was looking for, although obviously there is no consensus (too bad, that might make things easy). I guess it comes down to what I enjoy, and is practical for my time considerations and training environment.
I really enjoy the variety of the conjugate method, I made fast gains using it when I had a training partner. Now that my schedule has me training alone gains have been few and far between. I deal with some minor impingement syndrome in my left shoulder and without a good hand-off guy some max effort pressing lifts can cause me problems. I did a 12 week linear cycle last spring that brought up my squat about 35 pounds, my bench barely moved. I can see how a series well thought out linear cycles could really bring up my squat. For bench I probably just need to add upper body mass.
Does anyone have any links to training logs of guys that have make really good progress with 5/3/1? Obviously there are some high level guys that have switched over, but any logs showing guys building a really good base with 5/3/1? Like taking a squat from 400-> 500+, bench from 300->365+?
I'm that you mentioned me.
In about 9 months I have taken my deadlift up well over 100lbs, squat up at least 50 (but most likely around 75-80, need to test for a true 1 rep max) and my overhead(jerk) up well over 50lbs too. I train for strongman, so bench is at the bottom of the barrel for me, but my link is in my sig. I am not trying to say that Westside doesn't work, because it obviously does, but if you can still gain on a linear style program, I think you should do it.
531 can be setted up with more heavy work if you want . for example , change the weeks to 351 and use good heavy singles after 3,5 or 1 rep on the 3 - and 1week like in the 531 for powerlifting book. you can also use 3 x 5 floorpresses, boardpresses or other "westsideexercises" after your 531 bench for your PERSONAL assistancework ( where you hit you weakareas ) .
the new stuff like peaking for a meet are very good changes for a comp. powerlifter . and you don't kill your joints ....
I definitely think the Strongman thing has helped my deadlift take off, and I think it has even benefited my squat. I mean 400lbs used to feel heavy on my back, just walking the squat out, but after doing 6-700lb yoke walks, it does not feel heavy anymore. Probably just a mental thing, but it helps, lol
I have personally used 5/3/1, The Westside Method and Sheiko as a beginner to play around with what worked for me. After sticking with the Westside Method for over a year, it has increased my total over 200 pounds. That may be extreme for some, but I am a firm believer of getting back what you put in in the sense that if you really want to succeed, it's yours for the taking. The downside I have with the Westside Method is that it put a lot of stress on my body. Maxing out twice per week led to some serious tendinitis and hip problems, which I ended up going to physio for.
I found 5/3/1 to be a great program for a beginner and it's very basic. Everything is laid out at your fingertips and all you have to do is lift properly. If you enjoy maxing out, you probably will not enjoy 5/3/1 as the main sets feel like Westside assistance work. You will make slow and steady progress and keep injuries (hopefully) to a minimum.
I am currently following Lou's advice of working to a 5 or a 3RM instead of a 1RM to help the tendons recover and back off the weight in the off season. A few months out I will get my CNS back into the heavy single mind set. Both methods will lead to success, it's just based off what you want to get out of it.
Best lifts: 455 squat/346 bench/572 deadlift @ 198 raw.
Time for gear.
The Westside Barbell Book of Methods is full of info. It's a compliation of his articles, some you can find on their web page. It's good to get, but it took me a couple of reads coupled with asking people like Chris to explain things before I had a solid understanding of it.
In the end as complex as it sounds, compared to other programs it tries to hit other aspects of strength. Max Effort 1RM's to work absolute strength, Dynamic Effort work to build speed/explosive power and repetition effort strength (which most programs focus on) to build muscle and weaknesses. Mix in GPP work focused on the sled, jumping and submaximal workouts and you've covered the core concepts. For higher level competitors, things can get more complicated with Circa Max phases--but I don't think that is essential from the start.
I found Jim Wendlers The Max Effort Method to be really helpful.
Plus the Dave Tate books.
Best lifts: 245kg deadlift, 162kg Front Squat, 145kg bench, 105kg log press, 250kg yoke carry, 115kg farmers, No. 2.5 Captains of crush