Implementing the Westside Knowledge

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Implementing the Westside Knowledge

By now you all know that we had a great trip to Westside Barbell. The question is how do we implement the knowledge. The programs that we already use are getting results. Does that mean we leave well enough alone? No way man!

When I learn new things, the first step is analyzing the information and comparing it to science and what I know to be true. Second I develop a plan, and then I try it out on myself. I am not going to have my athletes try something that I haven’t.


During our visit Louie told me the way that he picked out bad coaches. He said that if a coach visits and only has his athletes and assistants try out the exercises, he knows the coach is sorry. That’s either a lazy coach, or he’s more worried about himself than his athletes and assistants. Good coaches will always lead from the front at least for as long as their bodies will allow them.

I am still a ways off from developing my plan, but I wanted you guys to see the plan develop each step of the way. Here is what I have so far:

Day 1
Snatch from High Blocks EMOM 8 x 2
Back Squat 5RM, then -15% for 2×5 with last set 5+
Belt Squat Pulls
Reverse Hyper Isometric Contractions

Day 2
Clean front High Blocks
Jerk Drives from Blocks
Push Presses with Chains
Speed Bench with Bands 5×5

Day 3
Box Squats with Bands 5×5
Sumo Deadlifts from a 2″ Deficit
Belt Squat Goodmornings
Suitcase Deadlifts

Day 4
Snatch Max Effort
Clean & Jerk Max Effort
Standing Presses with Chains 5×5
Isometric Bench Presses 3 levels

Day 5
Front Squats
Sumo Isometric Pin Pulls
Unilateral RDLs
Unilateral Carries

As you can see there are a few direct principles that I want to try. Let’s go over them one at a time:

1. Conjugate- we will be changing the plan almost weekly to keep the body adapting. We are going to hit it from as many angles as possible. We are performing the EMOM snatches and cleans from high blocks because I need to work on my pull under, and it will save my back for the hip work that I am going to do. Of course everyone’s program is going to be different based on his or her strengths and weaknesses.

2. 50-60% of the workout is going to be accessory work targeting my weaknesses. The difference in what we will do vs. Westside is that we will get a little more specific as we get closer to a meet. They are the opposite. The last three weeks for them will be mainly accessory work.

The biggest problem is the complexity of the movement. Weightlifting is more like basketball or baseball. Imagine what a pitcher would pitch like if he hadn’t thrown in three weeks. Squatting, benching, and deadlifting is a skill, but it’s not as complex. This is something that we will have to discuss more when I visit next time.

I am focusing on my hips and overhead strength as you can tell. I will be excited to get our belt squat that we ordered. There are about 70 different ways to use that beauty, and I am going to try them all out. The main thing that I want to do is to improve my low back and hips health. Jason Coker told me that he has broken his back twice, and the only thing that has brought him relief is the belt squat. He uses it 2-3 times per week, and doesn’t feel any pain in his lumbar spine anymore.

3. I am all about the Isometric Contractions. I want to use them to strengthen my pull through the middle, and to strengthen my low back even more. I want to get my body ready for a big push at the end of the year. There is no better way to strengthen a specific angle of a joint than with isometric contractions.

4. Eccentric Work on the Box- I am going to work a wide stance box squat for squat with bands for several reasons. First I want to open up my hips, increase blood flow, and strengthen all the muscles around the hip capsule. I want to work the eccentric portion of the squat, since it’s rarely done doing a typical squat. The band will pull me down faster than I could sit by myself causing a faster stretch reflex. All of this equals more power dispersed into the squat. When we tested on the box, all of us were week getting off the box. We are used to bouncing out of the hole. This causes a weakness, which can lead to injury and a lower squat. If anything is weak, strengthen it and gains will follow. I will use a 5×5 set and rep scheme with a wave of 75-80-85% in a combination of bands and bar weight. That will be Louie’s basic pendulum wave.

I am not going to rely totally on the box squat for my squats for a couple of reasons. One I want to practice a more vertical torso during my other squat sessions because that is a better posture for the catch of the snatch and clean. Also I want full range of motion on my other squat days to encourage that mobility. We all know that optimal mobility is a very important aspect of weightlifting.

5. Max Effort Days/Contrast Days- I am going to use the contrast method with banded cleans and pulls. I am not sure what those exercises are going to look like or how often they will rotate yet. However I am sure that I will use this method. It will probably look like some complexes, some alternative movements, and some contrast movements.

I am still going to use a lot of the principles that have made my programs successful. I am not going to totally move away from the things that have created so many champions. It’s going to be a process, but I am excited to experiment. It’s probably going to take a lot of reading, some reviewing of my notes, and a few more trips to Westside, but I am up for it. I owe it to my team to give them the best.

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