Integrating speed work with Westside

I have a few questions on speed training and integrating it with a Westside program. I have Charlie’s book, but it is on another computer and I am in the process of copying it onto my new computer. Therefore, my first question is simple; what is the recommended volume of a speed workout?

I was planning on lifting 3 days/week alternating ME and DE days for upper and lower body.

Week 1
day 1 ME upper with speed workout
day 2 tempo
day 3 ME lower with speed workout
day 4 tempo
day 5 DE upper
day 6 tempo
day 7 rest

The following weeks will be similar but the weights will be slightly different.
(i.e. DE lower and then repeat cycle)

I plan on working primarily on starts for the speed days at this time.

What suggestions do you guys have?

I think you want to do some talking to James Smith, he intergrates westside with Charlie’s methods. There must be something in the archieves.

Speed volume maxes out at 700m but appears to be around 500m for most workouts. If you arn’t used to speed work a la CF then start with a lower volume and build it up gradually to allow your body to adapt (maybe 6 weeks). You might think this sounds very conservative but every year I see people “get serious” and then get injured because they arn’t ready to handle the volume at higher intensity.

Agreed with the James Smith referal, he has this figured out.

As far as my opinion, it depends on your base and how well you tolerate it. I prefer a shorter amount of Speed volume 300-500m total, this seems to allow me to bounce back better. This might be one of those things that you just need to figure out. Get someone to watch your session (preferably a good coach) and when form breaks, kill the session. (that Section from Speed Trap comes to mind).

James wrote this in response to a question asked on eliteft, it is more football based but maybe you can get some ideas out of his response.

"I actually address all of this in a manual that I am creating which illustrates numerous organizational strategies for managing various degrees of impact to the CNS.

Here’s the deal.

Charlie has stated that any running in excess of 75% and less than 90-95% of top speed for that distance is too slow to develop top speed and to0 fast/intensive to recover from in 48 hours. This 75-90%is the middle intensity zone which encompasses gassers, 300yd shuttles, etc.

So from a conditioning perspective the utilization of these medium intensity stressors may usefully be employed AS LONG as they are accounted for as CNS intensive and programmed so as to observe adequate recovery between like workouts/training days.

From a speed development perspective the medium intensity zone is lousy, especially when incomplete recoveries are utilized. The incomplete recoveries inhibit the performance of subsequent repetitions. Thus, the subject is unable to run at top speed for that distance for more than one or two repetitions.

Now, the key here is to contemplate your specific strategy for managing training. I favor the high/low approach in which CNS intensive stressors are consolidated to same training days and alternated with one or more low intensive day. (again this is entirely the basis of my upcoming manual)

Accordingly, if you wish to incorporate medium intensity drills (gassers, 300yd shuttle, metabolic patterns/sequences, etc) than you would be wise to treat these as CNS intensive and alternate these type of workouts/training days with either tempo work or rest.

I personally use my friday night (summer) conditioning workouts, with my high school football players, as metabolic patterns/sequences in which I construct various ‘fights’ using tires. The parameters consist of 4-15 second efforts followed by 20-60s second recoveries (on average). The type of drills which I set up closely approximate the type of fatigue the athletes will experience during actual competition. Here we see that this qualifies as medium intensity, however, the preceeding training day is tempo work and the two following days are rest/weekend. Thus, I have accounted for the CNS impact yielded by this event and adequate recovery is accomplished prior to the CNS intensive nature of Monday’s training which involves speed and/or agility work plus weight training.

So, yes you may incorporate lactic zone work so long as you account for this as CNS intensive in the weekly plan.

Speed and tempo alone, in my view, will not sufficiently condition a football player from a psychologica/physical/and tactical perspective. Their must be lactic energy system work either in the form of SPP drills/game simulation or drills such as the one that I outlined in which the athletes exert themselves ‘relatively’ maximally with incomplete recoveries between repetitions.

Perhaps the most significant component of the medium intensity drills is psychological in the mental toughness that it demands. Speed and tempo do not require this ‘will’ from the athlete. This is the unique aspect of demanding maximal efforts under conditions of fatigue. The way the athletes perform under these conditions will tell you a lot about what they are made of and strengthen their ‘will’.

IMPORTANT, remember that these types of drills MUST be accounted for as CNS intensive, even though they (because of incomplete recovery) do not allow the athletes to actually run at top speed or exert max force against the implements.

I also encourage coaches to do your best to consolidate ‘discipline’ drills to CNS intensive days (off season or in season). This is easier said than done, however it will pay off on game day."

What are you training for? What are your goals? What is your training background? More info would be helpful.

As far as integrating WS with CFTS, I am not a fan of that approach. Often times there is an assumption that weight training and speed training are two different entities and you can plan them independently. This is not the case.

Both heavy weight training and speed training have a significant impact on the CNS and as such, volume and intensity with one will effect the volume and intensity of the other one.

This is why it is important to understand what your goals are. If you want to get fast, then you take care of speed training and use what you have left over to address weights. If you want to get strong, then you may do the opposite.

XLR8 makes excellent points. Y’all would do well to listen

Just saw this. I agree with your points about speed+heavy weights=CNS stress but, I think during GPP you can mix a WS type of template might work ok as long as you place importance of speed before weights.


Well, you can try anything and if you are making improvements, stick with it.

However. I’m not sure what a WS template with sprint work really is. Does this mean that you replace the DE days with sprints? If so, then I consider that CFTS, not WS. On the other hand, if you do both sprints and DE days, then it seems like DE is (at best) redundant.

That said, in GPP you do have more flexibility to address an athlete’s particular shortcomings. If you like the WS template and feel that you need that kind of focus on building strength, then I’m not going to stop you. :slight_smile:

just curious. In 3 sentances can you sum up what you like to do for lifting? I know you have probably written about it but if you dont mind just sum it up real quick. Are you more like me?
Total Body 3x week? Hitting an oly lift, squat or dead variation, push (bench etc), pull (pulldowns/rows etc), posterior chain (glute ham, reverse hypers etc) each session keeping the variety and doing a sort of progressive overload with the major lifts. 5x5 followed by 6x3 follwed by 8x2. type deal?

well, I agree with the basic sentiments of what you are saying…
DE I feel is redundant…

But what I want to call attn: to everyone is, as an avid follower of both sites, that there is no one “Westside” system, now, if there ever was one. Each lifter there is accountable to their own training and results, and the myriad variety in training that has produced is staggering.
The key is figuring out your weakpoints (as you’ve pointed out XLR8), and finding ways to address them in a way that is beneficial to performance.
I think there is a ton of literature over there about that and about things one would not traditionally consider WSB.

Yup, you have it right. Whole body in each session, multi-joint exercises, heavy weights, low reps.

There, I did it in one sentence and one fragment :slight_smile:

Kool. Were both on the same page. However In season (for track) I like to somewhat group my 2 days of total body a little different. On day #1 I like to have more of a max effort type focus with olympic power versions and heavy pressing and day #2 I like to focus more on the lighter quicker hang versions of oly lifts and instead of bench again I like to do higher reps for example instead of 6x3 of bench I may do 4 sets of 6-8 with incline DB’s or maybe even dynamic bench 8x3. Also instead of heavy front squats, maybe a unilateral movement or light box squats.
We still on the same page? Just curious.

I think this thread is interesting because it highlights a few points about how using strength training to enhance sports training needs to be different those used to train athletes in the iron game.

Strength and conditioning today has evolved out of training programs for Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman training and bodybuilding. More recently it has also evolved out of work done in sports medicine by physiotherapists (hence the Functional exercise craze).

While all of these schools have something to offer the athlete in terms of techniques that may be useful it may not be wise to organise your training in respect to thier structuring practices (e.g. Westside template PL, split routines BB).

This is because structuring technique has evolved to best support the skills involved in that iron game event. In this respect many of the techniques double as skills practice for those events (e.g. Olympic Weightlifting). However, when used to help athletes from non iron game sports these structuring ideas must be althered to support a sports skills totally unrelated to what you do in the gym.

People have recognised this for years but instead of going after the structuring aspect they instead focused on the technique side and made the techniques more “Sports Specific”, which many motor learning experts believe probably doesn’t help that much. In my opinion they focused on the wrong part of the problem.

While the discussion becomes more complex at this point, in theory it is possible to construct a results producing strength program using a variety of iron game techniques - Olympic lifting, bodybuilding exercises, sandbag work, keg tossing even using exercise machines - either combined together or in isolation.

The important part is making sure it all goes towards supporting the athletes sporting skills.

Does anyone know what James Smith prescribes for his football team during the season as far as conditioning? I know he likes to separate the medium to high intensity days with an easier / tempo day, but is this possible in high school football where you see the athletes Mon thru Thurs with a game on Friday?
In the past we have gone pretty heavy / high intensity conditioning (>75) on Monday and Tuesday, backed off a little on Wed, then as easy as possible on Thursday. I find it hard to think of any football drill on any day as being < 75 percent as I don’t think you can play the game the way it was meant to be played at anything less than 100%.
Maybe we should do the medium intensity conditioning on Monday and Wed (75-95% area, gassers, etc) and more tempo type work / simply football on Tuesday, then as easy as possible on Thursday?

I have two different in-season and off-season regiments because I play football in the summer / fall and only run indoor track in the winter.

I still have trouble getting in a good training rhythm for in-season football (which is the phase I’m in now!) because we practice on Tu/Th in the evening and games are Sat nights.

Ideally, I lift after practice on Tu/Th so that I have a recovery/tempo day in between, but practice doesn’t end until after 9:00, so by the time I get home, work out, shower, cool down, etc. I’m up later than I would like.

As far as your question about different areas of emphasis in different lifting sessions, I certainly do rotate exercises to some extent, but I don’t usualy play around with emphasis very consciously. My quickness, speed and speed-strength training comes from my on-field or on-track workouts, so I consciously focus on general strength in the weight room. For example, I may do:

Session 1:
GHG raise
Mil press

Session 2:
Squat (touch-and-go box squats)
db Bench
low row
romanian DL
db press

Basically, I try to find an exercise that addresses power (clean or snatch), hips (squat or variation. Could include a deadlift but I find that I get more out of squats), chest (bench or variation), back, shoulders, and ‘posterior chain’ (GHG raise, RDL, etc). As far as reps, I will keep my power, hips and chest at <6. Two or three are my favorites. The back shoulders and posterior chain will usually be around 8 reps. I always lift concentrically as fast as possible.

If I’m low energy because of a particularly taxing practice or sprint workout, then I will skip the cleans or snatches. This also fits in with my philosophy of speed work happening outside the gym. As a matter of fact, one could argue that the OLs are somewhat redundant in a sprinters program. But I won’t :wink:

I’m not a bit fan of the hang versions of the lifts. As a matter of fact, I like doing full versions including full front squat on the cleans whenever possible, but that is mostly just personal preference and working with what I feel provides me personally with the most benefit.

IMHO that would be heading the wrong direction. The problem with 75-90% work (I know you said 95%, but to me that spans two different realms) is that it is too slow to really help your athletes improve, but to intense for them to easily recover from.

The general concept is to have athletes train at >90% to improve their speed, quickness, power, and explosiveness or to train at <75% to help with conditioning and recovery. Ideally, these two types of days are alternated. Also note that skill acquisition is best accomplished in a non-fatigued state.

However, rarely are things ideal and tradeoffs must be made to fit into a real-world schedule. As long as you keep the above guideline in mind, understand what kind of work you are perscribing, and monitor the performance and recovery of your athletes, you will be well ahead of curve.


Pretty much. I would add a DE day every now and then by making the same exercises lighter and fastser. My thinking here is to maybe do something like this for a unloading week. So something along the lines of 3 weeks of Max effort then a week of unloading of DE. Have you ever tried something like this? Too much possibly?

Yes. I agree it is very much CTFS. What I am borrowing is the reps/sets and loading routine from WS NOT the whole training routine. I like the Max effort idea followed by a body building exercise.

I definitely feel this might work for a weaker athlete that might need hypertrophy. I would definitely switch to a traditional total body routine 3x per week in the SPP.

Now with that said, forumites please dont turn this into a WS vs CTFS. These are just ideas that I have for the upcoming GPP. I have not tried this yet but, I wanted to get some valuable input.


Not really. 3 weeks of ME is essentially the first part of a 3-1-3 cycle. Then the 1 week of DE would be your unloading. Try it and let us know how it works for you.

Now with that said, forumites please dont turn this into a WS vs CTFS. These are just ideas that I have for the upcoming GPP. I have not tried this yet but, I wanted to get some valuable input.

Fair enough. I don’t know how one even would argue WS vs CFTS. The programs are focused on different goals, so it would be comparing apples to oranges. No one can argue with the sucess of WS in creating incredibly strong powerlifters. Likewise, no one can argue with the success of CFTS in creating incredibly fast sprinters. Learn from them both!

The exercises you desribe above, are they introduced in-season, or just emphasised more in this second workout of the week? If introduced in-season, have you noticed ANY negatives at all? Any “re-adaptation” to these new movements/exercises?


Not sure about Quik, but I tend to follow the philosophy of “if it is a good enough exercise to include in my program, then it is good enough to include all the time.” So I would tend to include them all the time with different amount of emphasis.