The Louie Simmons Influence on Weightlifting

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The Louie Simmons Influence on Weightlifting


Recently Louie Simmons wrote a book about weightlifting. I haven’t read it yet, but I probably will. Do I think that Louie could coach a weightlifter better than me or one of my coaches? No. He would have to coach a weightlifter to the World Championships or the Olympic games for me to believe that he is a great weightlifting coach. However, this doesn’t mean that I can’t learn from him.

A terrible part of the culture in American weightlifting is a coach thinking their way is the only way. If another coach gets results, instead of wanting to learn from that coach they will think that person must be cheating. There mentality is that if they are beating me then they must me taking drugs.

My rule is that if someone is beating me, then I am going to figure out what they are doing. My big secret is that I try to learn at least something from everyone that I meet. This is how you become a great coach.

Louie Simmons is a Barbell Icon whether you like it or not. This guy has single-handedly done more to progress the Barbell than any other Strength Coach in America. I am not saying that I agree with everything that he says. I am just stating the obvious. This guy is an Iron Warrior, and his trials and errors have made their way in to almost every gym and box in America.

Louie was the biggest influence on my own training in the sport of powerlifting. I read everything that he wrote, and I watched every video. I made several trips to Westside Barbell. Most people actually thought that I was one of his athletes. Although I wasn’t one of his athletes, Louie helped me out at almost every big meet that I ever competed in. There are videos on YouTube of some of my World Record Performances, and there is Louie standing right beside me in almost every video. You can say that he took me under his wing.

Although my powerlifting programming isn’t exactly Westside, it resembles the heck out of it. I use a lot of Max Effort work especially in the bench press and deadlift. I use the conjugate method in almost everything that I do, which is a fancy word for change or specialized exercises that mimic the main lifts. I am a firm believer in compensatory acceleration and accommodating resistance. I used a lot of bands and chains not really in the exact same way, but I used them all the time. No doubt the biggest influence for my Powerlifting Programming is Louie Simmons. Yes, Sheiko, Chad Smith, and several others have some influence on the way I program, but Louie stills remains number one.

A lot of people recognize the Westside influence on my Powerlifting Programming, but not many people realize that Louie influenced my Olympic weightlifting programming as well. Of course, Don McCauley and Greg Everett have had a much bigger influence in this department along with Coach Zygmunt Smalcerz, but Louie’s ideas and principles can still be found within almost any program that I write. Here are some of those ways:

1. EMOMs- Every Minute on the Minutes are a great way to train the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. I used them a lot with Deadlifts for the same reason. On most pulls there really isn’t much of an eccentric portion of the lift, so the benefit of reps is really lost. Typically coaches will notice a breakdown in technique with each rep. The EMOM’s allows the athlete to focus on each and every rep. You won’t believe how often athletes end up setting personal records with this type of set and rep scheme.

Coach Pendlay and I talked about performing EMOM’s. He is actually a huge fan of them as well. Guess what? He learned them from Louie Simmons as well. Coach Pendlay really likes to use them with beginner lifters. I find them to work incredibly well for athletes of all kinds of different experience levels.

2. I use the Conjugate Method when choosing different ways for my athletes to display a “Maximum Effort”. Blocks are a great way to work on the different aspects of the pull, and they save the CNS simply because they are shortening the Range of Motion. We use high block, medium blocks, and low blocks at different times throughout the block.

Coach McCauley, Coach Pendlay, and I all three love to use Complexes as a way to strengthen the athlete and to test the athlete’s Maximum Effort. Complexes range from simple variations to elaborate soul crushing death marches. A favorite of mine is performing a simple pull, then the lift, and maybe an extra squat. This type of complex strengthens the athlete’s pull, and it gives the athlete more practice on performing the pull correctly.

3. Bands and Chains- I have experimented with bands and chains in just about every way possible. Personally I wouldn’t use them for the main lifts of Snatch and Clean & Jerk. As we all know, bar path is ultra important as is timing, and adding something like a band to the bar can really change that pathway. However adding bands and chains to squat for an advanced lifter will definitely help increase the strength levels of the athlete.

Using bands and chains for the pull is still questionable. Some say that the accommodating resistance slows the bar down where it should speed up. I say that it simply teaches one to apply more force as the bar rises, which is exactly what the athlete wants to do. Either way, adding the bands and chains to the pull in the off-season could be an experiment that pays off with big dividends. Also adding bands to RDLs has been an exercise that has added tons of strength to all of my pulls over the years.

4. Lead by Example- Louie Simmons told me this years ago, and I believe this with all of my heart. I don’t understand how these strength coaches can walk around with their big bellies and weak arms talking about lifting weights. Would you want to take financial advice from a broke dude? Heck no!

Louie has always taken a General Patton approach to his coaching, and thanks to him I will always do the same. When your athletes see you grinding, they will not question any of your workouts. They know that you will do whatever you program. That, my friend, is earning respect. I love watching Coach Joe Kenn, Head Strength Coach for the Carolina Panthers, banging out workouts that would make most young athletes drop and beg for mercy. Louie Simmons and Coach Kenn live the code as my man Zach Even-Esh always says.

5. Posterior Chain- Louie Simmons opened the eyes of millions of strength coaches and athletes with his teachings on the importance of the posterior chain. Reverse hypers, GHDs, and Goodmornings are used more than ever, and we can all thank Louie for that. My programs will always be packed full with posterior chain work because of the things that Louie taught me.

A lot of people give Louie a hard time when it comes to his outspokenness regarding weightlifting in America. You just have to know him! Louie wants to see the US start to medal as do the rest of us. No, I don’t think that he could take one of the lifters in the US and add 50 kilos to his total, but I do think that he has some valid ideas that might help. The problem in America is that too many coaches want to think that they know all there is to know about weightlifting. If they did, then we would be medaling. Period!

I pray that when it is all said and done that I can influence the strength world a fraction compared to what Louie Simmons has already done. The guy has given his life to the advancement of strength in America. As a strength coach in America, I plan on taking up his torch and spending my life trying to advance weightlifting and powerlifting. Having the chance to coach at Mash Elite Weightlifting has given me the same opportunity that Louie had his whole life. I get to work with professional strength athletes day in and day out, and my job is to get them stronger than they could ever dream. That is exactly what I intend on doing!


  1. Ryan says

    2 things i love about this and try to embody as a young coach! 1) learn from everyone. you don’t have to agree with/like everything they do to take one new thing and grow as a coach and 2) practice what you preach. if your methods are so great why wouldn’t you utilize them on yourself to get stronger/leaner/fitter as well!?

    another great article post!

  2. James says

    If I wanted to train for a push / pull meet in later in the year and only had 4 days a week to train. How would you set up a 12 week template? I’m currently do max effort deads on Tuesday , speed bench and heavy triceps work on Wednesday, speed pulls on Thursday and accessory work for the posterior chain and Max effort bench on Saturday. When I say bench I’m talking regular benching and regual deadlift from the floor. On max effort days I pick one specialty exercises to like board pressing or rack pulls to perform after the main lift. I’m already warmed up so I try to find a 3 rep max and 1 rep max as in as few sets as possible. On weeks 3, 6, 9 and 11 I’m already training over 90% on the main lifts so no specialty lifts on those days.

    The 1st 3 week wave is light so volume is high
    Week 1 72.5% 6 sets of 5 reps * one specialty movement for 3rm and 1rm
    Week 2 82.5% 6 sets of 3 reps * one specialty movement for 3rm and 1rm
    Week 3 92.5% 6 sets of 1 rep

    The 2nd 3 week wave gets a little heavier so volume drops a little
    Week 4 75% 5 sets of 5 reps *one specialty movement for 3rm and 1rm
    Week 5 85% 5 sets of 3 reps * one specialty movement for 3rm and 1rm
    Week 6 95% 5 sets of 1 rep

    The 3rd 3 week wave gets even heavier and volume drops more
    Week 7 77.5% 4 sets of 5 reps * one specialty movement for 3rm and 1rm
    Week 8 87.5% 4 sets of 3 reps *one specialty movement for 3rm and 1rm
    Week 9 96.5% 4 sets of 1 rep

    Final 3 week wave is for peaking so heaviest 3 weeks with low volume
    Week 10 80% 3 sets of 5 reps * one specialty movement for 3rm and 1rm
    Week 11 90% 3 sets of 3 reps
    Week 12 MAX on deads and bench

    Please give me your thoughts and feedback on this 12 week template I have created. Pro and cons and why it will or will not work. What changes would you make? Do you have a better 12 week template for push / pull?

  3. Calum christopherson says

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this article. Louie is a wise man, a strong man and a great coach. Listen to what he says, after all. He made powerlifting great by following the programming methods of weightlifters.

    I think allot of people have selective hearing when it comes listening to what Louie has to say. They hear bands and clean in the same sentence and get put off. If you listen to his podcast on weightlifting his main aim is working on a GPP for athletes and getting them strong. This is the key in some areas as well as strengthening weaknesses. He doesn’t just know how to get people strong, but also very fast. If you see the athletes and coaches he’s worked with… Say no more. He has influences and success is many sports by following the same system, because it works.

    As an example, Phil richards was able to to win 26/26 games in a competitive rugby season of the top flight premiership in England by using westside methods. Like you said, the posterior chain had a massive influence on keeping players strong and injury free throughout the season.

    I think everyone’s on the same page, wanting to win, wanting to get better. If there’s something to learn, benefit from it.

    Don’t be a tough guy, be a Samuel. Master your skill

  4. says

    louie taught me that power lifting and olympic weightlifting can work together. he is passionate and that to me says a ton!! i use to think powerlifting and olympic lifting could not work together, but louie opened me up and i learn from him. he can take one of my lifters anytime to make him stronger….but….i need that lifter to do snatches and cj just with the bar daily….results are phenomenal!!

  5. Frank Zedar says

    Nice piece, Travis… Like our news “should” be… Seeing both sides of an issue. I’m a 70 year old CrossFit coach and got an invite from Louie to visit Westside last August. It’s funny how Weightlifters poke fun at CrossFitters (“Are we doing “squat cleans” today?”) and (“Today is “Isabel” – 30 snatches for time!”) – and Powerlifters poke at Weightlifters – and Gymnasts poke… well, you get what I mean. All Louie wants is for ALL athletes, regardless of the sport, to be as strong as they can possibly be. And I think he delivers that as good or better than anyone…

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