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Thread: Conjugate training and variation carryover?

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    Conjugate training and variation carryover?

    I try to and like to figure training out my-self most of the time but I am a bit unsure about this one when it comes to training with conjugate periodization/westside method.

    If I train a variation of a powerlift for a ME session but the weights lifted are far below what I can do for that main lift does anyone think there is still any significant carryover? So for example with me my front squat max is 150 kg and squat max is well over 200 kg but not sure what way to look at it. Some might say they are completely different lifts and there may not be any significant correlation where as another point of view might be that there is a glaring weakness that is highlighted in the front squat so therefore it would be wise to cycle front squats in ME rotation and/or supplementary work in order to work on the weakness and build the front squat and therefore the squat as well. The thing that makes me doubt the carryover is that surely it would have to work both ways. My squat has went up a lot but my front squat remained the same in a space of 9 months and I have actually in that time done only 4 squat sessions (They were all testing not building the lift) + a meet squat so about the same volume as front squats overall if not less.

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    I think part of it depends on what is your squat style and when you get stuck where do you get stuck?

    If you have trouble staying upright on heavy squats and if you start to leand forward on your feet don't have the quad strenght to wrestle it out, front squats might be a very good choice. The fact that you feel weak in them could mean you'd get a lot of benefit from building with them either as a ME exercise or even as assistance work.

    The "lower" weight of the front squat won't matter too much if you are rotating your ME lifts. Some lifts should put you in positions that allow you to use weights beyond your squat and others should put you in positions that will allow you to use less than your squat. I think this is one of the reasons conjugate can let you train heavy frequently because you are mixing up the loads, which lets your body rest from the heavier days.

  3. #3
    Administrator chris mason's Avatar
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    Scott, what are your ME squat variations? You should not be using loads which are significantly less that your full back squat (with an allowance being made if you use multi-ply gear).


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    Chris I almost always use box squats at different heights ranging from about "15" to "9". I got success from starting higher then lowering the box and then work back up trying to beat each record. Think this is why my squat went up with very little actual free squatting. What RFabsik is saying is what I also believed early on when I started conjugate training but after a while I realized that some lifts I should use or be told to use as ME variation or supplementary don't always seem to increase with the main lift and are also done with lighter loads so therefore probably not a good correlation between them and therefore no real carryover benefit.

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    I think what you just explained is what people learn over time on the conjugate system. Some lifts really build their main lifts and others have little carryover. Why one works well for one person and not so well for another depends on their body type, current strengths/weaknesses and as you suggest how close the load is to the movement and how close it is to the main lift. In the Westside Squat and Deadlift Manual they list all the Westsider's favorite Max Effort lifts, there is some overlap, but not everyone gets the best response to the same lifts.

    I would say the front squat could help many out, but it sounds like you've given it a try and it doesn't carry over for you.

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    Yeah I do agree with that. Obviously at the start which was not too long ago for me I would try to pick random variations just as long as they resembled the 3 powerlifts or where mentioned frequently in articles and videos. Then over the time I understand the idea is to learn how to adapt the method to yourself based on individual needs. The reason I chose to front squat recently is because I have the exact same problem in both lifts which is what you mentioned earlier staying upright coming out of the hole.

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    One of the reasons I don't like Conjugate Training. If you really don't know what works for you, you start doing exercises because someone told you to. Again, I'm not saying it doesn't work, but the system just doesn't make sense to me. I understand it. I actually find it very easy to figure out. I just don't think it's the best way to perfect a lift that you're trying to improve.

  8. #8
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RhodeHouse View Post
    One of the reasons I don't like Conjugate Training. If you really don't know what works for you, you start doing exercises because someone told you to. Again, I'm not saying it doesn't work, but the system just doesn't make sense to me. I understand it. I actually find it very easy to figure out. I just don't think it's the best way to perfect a lift that you're trying to improve.
    Trial and error is sometimes the best way to learn.

    On any other program there is no variation and you're just doing exactly what someone else says anyways?

    While the WS way might not be beating technique into someone, it is about getting stronger. Look at the gym performance brother. No gym in the country has turned out more 800lb deadlifters, more 800+lb benchers (or 900+lb benchers) or 1100+lb squatters. We must be doing something right?


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    I think it is like that at the beginning and obviously with inexperienced lifters but over time it makes a lot more sense and that is what I am finding out now. Most other types of periodization seem to have a lot more flaws in them than conjugate training. The argument about perfecting technique is probably the biggest one but improving technique is easier to obtain than strength anyway I would think

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