Whether you are into CrossFit, strongman, powerlifting, bodybuilding, or any other sport on the face of this earth (maybe with the exception of darts) it should be no secret to you that plateaus and sticking points arise during long periods of training. When that time comes, more often than not, it comes time to go back to the basics. It becomes time to strengthen the foundation; strengthen muscles around a joint to lessen the stress on it, to be able to push a heavier weight for a 1RM, or control a heavier weight for a deeper contraction.
There are many ways of strengthening the body, but one stands as an effective, tried and true method that has a limited track record of injuries: the Westside Method.
Paying Dues to the Creator
The Westside method; known by the fitness world as a truly brilliant method to make some serious strength gains was created by the hardcore Louie Simmons himself. For those that don’t know Louie, he is the owner of the Westside Barbell gym in Ohio… oh, and you can’t go there unless you are invited. The list of attendees and members include countless world record holders and champions of powerlifting, the NFL and the UFC.
Enough credibility yet? Simmons has over 50 years of competitive powerlifting experience. His top lifts include a 600 lb bench press, a 920 lb squat, and a 722 lb deadlift; he knows a thing or two about strength training.
The Westside Method Breakdown
Essentially, this method of training was developed by Louie from observing the training journals of Russian and Bulgarian powerlifters. According to Louie the athletes coming out of those countries were way ahead of the Americans in terms of strength training.
The training program includes two types of days; max effort day and dynamic effort day. The max effort day is a low volume day where the athlete puts their focus on lifting as heavy as possible for one rep. The idea is to only do sets of one and rack up the weight until you can’t push anymore. On the contrary, the dynamic effort day is a high volume workout where the lifts are performed faster and at 75-80% of the one rep max.
The max effort days serve as a method to test one’s abilities, nervous system response, and ultimately push the athlete to their limits and perhaps beyond. Louie is also a huge advocate of psychological training. He says that with this method, athletes get used to lifting heavier weight every single week. So, mentally they condition themselves to succeed every single week. It’s a physical milestone for success every week.
The dynamic effort days are designed to de-load the nervous system from the stress put on from the first few days of the week. In addition to this, the dynamic effort days are made with variety of free weights and machines; ultimately resulting in isolation and accessory work.
One important thing to note: this program is considered very safe because you are only pulling your heaviest weight about 20% of the time. The rest of the time is spent improving the weaknesses of a lift through methods of hypertrophy.
Westside Method Workout
Before jumping into the action schedule of workouts please understand that in this method, you only really test your actual powerlifting movements (squat, bench deadlift) once every month or two. The rest of the time, you are working to get better at the different segmented components of each of those lifts.
Day 1: Push (Max)
Day 2: Pull (Max)
Day 3: Legs (Max)
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: Push (Dynamic)
Day 6: Pull (Dynamic)
Day 7: Legs (Dynamic)
Day 8: Rest
Max Effort Days
On these days, you will be spending most of your time on one primary movement, attempting to better your max weight on it (all warm up sets are still 1 rep), and then moving on to some accessory work with reps ranging from 6-10 with 3-4 sets per exercise.
Push Day (pick one per week)
Primary movements: Incline Bench Press, Flat Bench Press, Power rack Bench Press (use spotting bars; starting the movement from your chest)
Accessory work: Flyes, pullovers, pushups, dips, etc.
Primary movements: Deadlift, bent over row, yates row, rack pull
Accessory work: Straight arm lat pulldown, lat pulldown, cable row, reverse fly, etc.
Primary movements: Box Squat, Back Squat, Front Squat, Hack Squat
Accessory Work: Leg extensions, leg curls, calf raises, box jumps, etc.
Dynamic Effort Days
These days are similar in structure to Max effort, the difference is that the primary movements are performed with 75-80% of your max weight with speed. Pick 2 primary movements for each day, aim for 2 reps per set and perform about 10 sets per exercise. Accessory work remains the same.
There you have it! The Westside Method crash course. It is a great method to improve strength and grow muscle at the same time, but it is not for the faint of heart. You need to commit to pushing your limits every single week. Go tackle it!
Nik Vasilyev Digital Fitness Coach