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Powerlifting Westside Style
Before I get started here is a little information about the Westside Barbell Club. In their 20′ x 40′ gym they have 53 Elite level lifters with 24 members squatting over 800 pounds, 40 members benching over 500 pounds and 6 members deadlifting over 800 pounds!
Now to get started the Westside methods are unusual to most. They put Strength, Power, and Hypertrophy phases all together into one routine. The reason these phases are together is because to be strong you need to have power and strength at the same time. The old routines could not provide that because they split up the different phases for different time frames. When training with the different phases split up you would lose the qualities you had just gained from the training before.
You might be thinking, “How do they put all those phases into one routine?” Well they do this by training for strength/speed on one day and power on a different day during the week. The hypertrophy is caused by the assistance exercises on each of the days.
So what does a 1 week routine look like?
Well, you train 4 times a week with 2 days being devoted to the bench press and 2 days devoted to the squat/deadlift. The reason the squat and deadlift are trained on the same day is because they are similar movements which use the same primary muscles.
On one day you will do speed work and on the other day you will do what is known as a Max Effort movement.
For the speed bench press day you will be using 60% of your one rep max for 8 sets of 3 reps. These reps are done as fast as possible while keeping your form perfect and using a close grip. Rest periods should be between 40-60 seconds.
For the squat speed day you will be using 50% of your max squat for 10 sets of 2 reps. The week after that you increase your speed squats to 55% of your one rep max and on the third week you will use 60% of your one rep max. On week four you would go back to 50% of your 1-RM and continue to wave your weights like that. Rest periods should be between 40-60 seconds between each speed set. After your speed squats do deadlifts for 6 singles of 60% of your max deadlift with a 20 second rest period.
For the speed bench and speed squat days after your 8 sets you will also do a single rep of about 75% of your max just to test your speed. All of the squats on speed day will be done off of boxes. I will explain this further in this article.
On the ME or Max Effort days you will be doing a movement that works the muscles in either your squat, deadlift, or bench to the max. An example of this would be doing front squats on your ME squat day or close grip incline press on your ME bench day. Almost all of your ME bench exercises should be done with a close grip.
On your squat/deadlift days you will always work your abs, obliques, an exercise for your weak point and reverse hypers. On your bench press days you will do a pressing movement followed by an extension and heavy lat work and some light shoulder work.
An example one week routine would be:
Sunday - ME squat/deadlift
- ME exercise - Close stance bent over good morning - work up to a single or triple
- Assistance - Glute - Ham raise - 5 sets of 8-10 reps
- Abs - Standing abs - 4 sets of 8-12
- Obliques - Dumbbell side bends - 3 sets of 4-8 reps
- Reverse hypers - 3 sets of 8-12 reps
Tuesday - Speed bench
- Speed Bench - 8 sets of 3 reps at 60% of your one rep max
- Pressing movement - Closegrip 3 board press - 3 sets of 5
- Extension - Elbows out extensions - 3 sets of 6-10 reps
- Lat work - T-bar rows - 4 sets of 5-8 reps
- Shoulder work - A few light sets of side laterals and front raises
Thursday - Speed squat
- Speed squat - 10 sets of 2 reps at 50% of your one rep max
- Speed deadlift - 6 singles of 60% of one rep max
- Assistance - Zercher squats - 5 sets of 6-8 reps
- Abs - Decline sit-ups with 5 second pause at bottom 1 - 4 sets of 82 reps
- Obliques - Dumbbell side bends - 3 sets of 4-8 reps
- Reverse hypers - 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Friday - ME BenchME Exercise
- Closegrip Incline press - work up to max single
- Extension - Skull crushers - 3 sets of 6-10
- Lat work - T-bar rows - 4 sets of 5-8
- Light shoulder work
- Pressing movement - floor press - 3 sets of 5
How can you get away with all the volume?
The main reason you can do this much is because none of the assistance exercises are to failure. The only exercise that is done until failure is your ME movement. When you first start training with this program you might want to drop a few sets on the assistance exercises. You can gradually add them as you get used to the volume.
What is the proper form for bench pressing?
Benching is actually a very technical lift. To start off you need to pull your shoulder blades together to put most of the pressure on your trap area. Now plant your feet firmly to the ground and push a bit. By this point your body should be very tight and stable. Now unrack the weight and position the bar above your sternum area with your arms still fully extended. You will want to lower the bar straight down and up to create the smallest ROM as possible. During the press keep your elbows near your sides and hold your shoulder blades together. The bar should end up staying over your sternum for the whole rep. Do NOT breath out during the rep, hold your breath from the beginning of the rep to the end.
What is the proper form for squatting without a box?
What is the proper form for box squatting?
Box squats are very similar to squats except at the bottom of the squat you sit back onto the box and release your hip flexors. You MUST keep the rest of your body tight. To release the hip flexors just stop pushing your feet out sideways. You only release them for a split second then explode back to the top of the squat.
DO NOT BOUNCE OFF THE BOX.
Some notes about the system
On ME day you are training with the conjugated method. With this method you must rotate the ME exercise at most every 3rd week. The reason for this is because you will not get stronger after 3 weeks at or above 90% of your max, you will suffer either mental or physical burnout after about 3 weeks and your strength will actually go down.
On ME day for squat/deadlift 60% of the ME exercises should be different kinds of good mornings, 25% squatting movements and 15% deadlifts. The reason being for all of the good mornings is because they build up the posterior chain (calves, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, upper back, abs, obliques) like no other exercise.
On speed day the reason you are using between 50% and 60% of you max is because that is how you can generate the most force. Think of it this way, can you generate more force throwing a ping pong ball/baseball/or a 90pound weight? Well, the ping pong ball is too light to get much force while the 90 pound weight is to heavy but the baseball is able to be thrown fast and it has more weight then the ping pong ball. Use the equation F=M x A to figure that out.
The reason short rest periods are used on speed day are:
- You can hit fast twitch fibers hard
- Short rest periods release more growth hormone
- You get better on your first rep
- You get into good shape for a competition
The Most Important Muscles of Each lift:
For Bench pressing the very most important muscle are the triceps. That is why all the triceps work is done. The next most important muscle would be the lats and shoulders.
For squatting and deadlifting the most important muscle are the hamstrings followed by the lower and upper back, the glutes, the abdominals and obliques and the hips.
Here are some exercises you can use to add variety to your workouts:
Squat and deadlift assistance: Dimel deadlifts, glute-ham raise, pull-thru’s, stiff legged deadlifts, zercher squats, seated good mornings, bent over good mornings, arch back good mornings, front squats, high bar squats, rack pulls, pulls off a block, sumo deadlift, conventional deadlift, one handed deadlifts, safety bar squats, suspended good mornings, hyperextensions, kneeling squats.
Pressing movements: closegrip bench, 2 board press, 3 board press, 4 board press, 5 board press, presses off pins, floor press, half benches, JM press, Paul dicks press, dumbbell press, reverse grip bench, cambered bar press, extra wide grip bench, incline press, decline press, military press.
Extensions: skull crushers, elbows out incline extensions, pushdowns.
Lat work: T-bar rows, barbell rows, dumbbell rows, chins, pulldowns, cable rows, supported chest rows.
Ab exercises: Decline sit-ups, standing abs, leg raises, Russian twists, spread eagle sit-ups.
Written by Adam Mackinnon
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