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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!