Westside Barbell Method-Arguements For/Against

I will direct this towards David W and Steve Dana, however, I encourage all who have experience and understanding of the WSB method to contribute.

Allow me to first state that I utilize the WSB template for my own training (powerlifting) as well as the training of most of my athletes/former athletes who range from football players, MMA, Navy SEAL’s, powelifters, and basketball players.

I think that we all agree that WSB is a template. Thus, it is highly subject to modifications to accomodate various sports, training age, training experience, drug free/assisted, etc…

What is also for certain is that the foundations of WSB are built upon Max effort training, Dynamic effort training, and Repetition method training, not necessarily within the calendar week, but withing the training week.

As the WSB method is an application of the Conjugate Sequence system we know that the rotation of special exercises serve to both develop the classical lifts and prevent overtraining of the CNS, and ultimately allow the athlete to continually train with maximal weights throughout the entrire training year.

We know that Louie Simmons adapted the conjugate method from the Soviet Olympic weightlifting teams of the 60’s-70’s( specifically the Dynamo club). Thus, we also know that the WSB/conjugate method is highly applicable and effective for OL as well as PL as well as any powerdevelopment /strength sport.

What is your experience with/thoughts about the system?



I agree with your assessment of the template, although the emphasis of where athletes train along the force curve must be altered depending on their own strengths.

Louie uses Maximum Strength, and Maximum Force, which he calls MaxS and Dynamic. The percentages he uses produce the effects I just listed. The reson for this are due to the fact that his sport is predicated on Maximal Force and Maximal Strength.

But, many power sports have positions that require displays of strength further towards the rate end of the force spectrum. The westside template is easily manipulated (as you pointed out) to shift the sessions emphasis towards ballistics or purely rate dominant plyometrics, including sprint work. While Louie does plyos and ballistics, I do not think they are a pillar in his system. If I am wrong, please correct me.

If in keeping with the notion that the Magnitude of Force fence (the idea that MaxS work should not be mixed with MaxRate work during the same session) is not to be crossed, then a westside day could be Force Maximal, Strength Maximal, or Rate Maximal. The Kenn tier system starts to address these ideas in relation to athleticism, and with a further modification the westside template can really produce stunning results. (As a side note, CT’s contribution of Canadian Ascending/Descending training actually does hurdle the fence, and also produces amazing results…at least for my athletes in the past.)

For team sports All aspects of movement must also be addressed, along with very different anaerobic needs. While a baseball player may get away with the same level of anaerobic endurance as a powerlifter, many team sports require considerably more. So, some recovery ability must address this need.

Obviously deceleration and agility must be addressed also. The westside template normally calls for a very rapid descent (as it should since this has proven to recruit a stronger recruitment during the concentric phase), athletes must address deceleration, and that means controlled eccentric training. This is easily adapted to the westside template by incorporating this into your speed drills, and into the repetiotion method portion of your lifts. During your Emphasis lifts, the Eccentric portion can be emphasized by combining the rapid descent with weight releasers. But, the descent should remain fairly quick during MaxS, MaxPower, and obviously MaxRate work early in the workout.

One of my biggest hurdles with applying the Westside Template to athletes is the fact that if any Acceleration Work, or Tempo Work is to be done (basically if we are trying to incorporate the CFTS), then with four CNS taxing days, most kids don’t recover. This is magnified due to the horrendous diets and stress high schoolers and college athletes are under.

What I have found is that by cutting back to 3 days (out of the standard seven day) and by Ascending from the MaxForce point upward or downward within the workout, gains are excellent.

What this means in simple terms is that our first two exercises go from O-Lift to MaxS work, or go from Dynamic Classic lift (Box Squat / Dynamic Bench) to Ballistic Work.

Generally I work downward along the Force curve early in the Meso to maximize MaxS gains. I do this by not using the whole O-Lift ealy in the Meso, but instead doing high pulls and power shrugs. O-Lifts require coordination and I feel should be done first in the workout, therefore if we start with a MaxS exercise, then we do the hybrid. On Rate days, we do Dynamic Classic followed by Ballistic.

For the middle portion of the Meso, we work outward from MaxForce. So, on Max Days we do O-Lift, then MaxS. Or, we do Dynamic Classic, then Ballistic.

Finally, during full Conversion late in the Meso, we emphasize Rate, and we work upward along the Force Curve. So, on Max Days we do O-Lifts, then MaxS. On Rate days we do Ballistics, then Dynamic Classic lifts.

I hope this didn’t get too convoluted.

We do our work always following Prelipin’s table as a guideline. Understand also that you must pay close attention to volume, as you are doing two exercises of high intensity, whether it be through MaxS, MaxF, or MaxRate.

Finally, as Westside also does, we do exercises following the Repetition Method to bring up important or lagging body parts. Remember that we emphasize the eccentric portion though with a 3 count. This helps to develop that ability to decelerate and control eccentric movement.

This is what I do when consulting a high school or small college about a program. I also use many of DB Hammer’s / Schroeder’s methods when training my own clients, but most coaches cannot implement these more technical techniques. It is hard enough to get the athletes to use a 3 count eccentric phase. So, I stick to ideas a coach can be successful implementing. Remember, it isn’t what you can dream up, or draw up, it is what can be implemented… and adhered to…

Hope this gets the discussion off to a good start. CT, if you are out there, please throw in a few words, as I have missed your words lately. It is rare to get to listen to a fellow “Nerd/In The Trenches Guy”. Kelly, same goes for you.

Lil Coach H

Silverback, many cudos to you brother. Excellent concepts regarding you varying the motor skill emphasis throughout the Mesocycle.

In keeping with what you finished with, the programming and organization is science, whereas, the application is art.

With respect to addressing multiple motor qualities per single training session, obviously you are hip to this Silverback, but for everyone else who has not seen this-the following was taken from C Thibaudeau

Multiple Motor Qualities per Single Training Session (Christian Thibaudeau)

Two methods in one session

  1. maximum effort concentric – repetitive effort concentric
  2. maximum effort eccentric – maximum intensity isometric
  3. submaximal eccentric – maximum duration isometric
  4. high intensity absorption – dynamic effort concentric

Three methods in one session

  1. maximum effort concentric – repetitive effort concentric – maximum duration isometric
  2. maximum effort eccentric – maximum intensity isometric – submaximal eccentric
  3. high intensity absorption – ballistic isometric – dynamic effort concentric

Four methods in one session

  1. max effort concentric – repetitive effort concentric – max duration isometric – max intensity isometric
  2. max effort eccentric – submaximal eccentric – max duration isometric – max intensity isometric
  3. overspeed eccentric – high intensity absorption – ballistic isometric – dynamic effort concentric


I utilise some WSB styles into my training, but I also apply theories from the Metal Militia and Charles Poliquin as well. The system I am currently utilizing has delivered excellent results, and allowed me to progress at a rate, that I never had before. I’ve broken it down to 3 days lifting and 3 days running, while utilizing speed and max effort techniques.

My view, admittedly more theoretical than practical (I’ve read just about everything except supertraining but don’t have the means to try multiple training philosophies out in practice), is that WSB method looks good for powerlifting, but less convincing for application to other sports.

If I was a powerlifter, I would probably expect it to be as good as any other method, if not better in some respects - especially because the box squat and power training element.

If I was an olympic lifter I would be discouraged in applying the method because of the infrequent training, and implications of accomodating resistance on technique rehearsal and perfection.

If I was an athlete in any other sport, I would probably be mostly indifferent to the weightroom methods, as it is more supplementary to the program, and not crucial to it’s success. My preferences are now based upon what I consider to be the least likely to injure me, and what resources I have available.


can you post what you’ve been doing and some of the specifics of your results?

This is why I hate MB’s. Your post in the other thread (before we moved it here), was unnecessary on a personal level. In fact, if you read your post above, within this excellent post of yours (I mean that sincerely), you have modified the WSB template to address its weaknesses. I am not “biased” against WSB. I have made tremendous progress on the system and have read everything you have read. I was reading and digesting WSB when it was on the old deepsquatter site. I have the videos, been to the seminars, etc.

I admit I don’t have much to post since your post covers alot of issues quite well. However, instead of endorsing WSB, as you did in the other thread, you have quite clearly modified it significantly.

Now, onto some additional issues since we are talking the WSB format/template as it is promulgated, not as you have modified it (and I can’t emphasize enough I admire your “work” in this regard).

  1. I have never seen WSB advocate anything other than the 4 day split. In fact, every reply to the topic I’ve ever seen implies you’re doing too much work and the 4 day split is not the problem. I think this is clearly incorrect.

  2. This isn’t a WSB criticism per se, but the information relative to how they manage volume is scant at best. “Try to do more in the same session” from cycle to cycle isn’t sufficient.

  3. I do believe the WSB template is in error on the issue of CNS confusion. You only addressed the main session movement in your last post, but you do not address the accessory work. I believe much of the accessory work, its tempo, volume, etc., are often inconsistent with with the main session movement. Forgive my lack of wordsmithing, as I am not an enthusiast of the nomenclature, just digesting it and putting it into action. I hope you understand the gist of what I’m trying to communicate, however awkward it is.

That’s all I can think of right now - but I point out again, you have adopted the WSB template - you do not embrace it wholly. Your modifications I do not consider to be mere “tweaking” but major overhauls.

You are right, and in reading my post on the other thread, I came across as much more of a butthead than I meant to… I apologize.

My point was simply that in reading many articles on EliteFTS, and talking with many guys who lack pharmaceutical enhancement, thay almost all have a micro of 8-12 days, not the requisite 7 day weekly micro.

Also, while it is true that tempo work is of a different CNS requirement than MaxS or MaxForce or MaxRate work, it is far less taxing than these other three if done with a controlled volume. Many articles address this also…that most people who employ westside do too much volume at first…volume must be handled according to the level of recovery.

But, from my experience, tempo work really does not cause problem with CNS when coupled with Max Effort Concentric work…again, as long as volume is appropriate. Since the stress of repetition work has very little to do with maximally firing the CNS until the last rep of failure (which I rarely have athletes go to), then it doesn’t really cause CNS confusion. This supposed confusion is caused by Maxmail Effort work, whether it be Force, Strength, Rate, Isometric, Eccentric, etc. And the idea is that you must stay on one side of the Max Force Fence or the other. (For those who do not understand what I just refered to, Max Force is generated by O-Lifts in the 70-85% range, and by classic lifts in the 40-60% range. These efforts cretae a Fence of sorts which a training session should not cross. Any work slower than, but with Maximal Effort per repetition, is considered Strength Work, and any work that is faster (ie ballistics, speed work, plyos, etc) is considered Rate Dominant.)

Repetition work is not a maximal effort method, as it is with slower and controlled reps, where the idea of all three MaxS, MaxF, and MaxR work is to move the weight as fast as possible. That is why it has such a pronounced effect on the CNS.

Much of this is also covered in the thread excerpt from CT’s last book.

Anyway, I like the principles of Westside, and if I was a Powerlifter, I would use their template for sure. From the previous thread about proving or disproving a hypothesis, I agree. But, unless we are in the old East German Bloc, then it might be hard to run these kinds of tests… I will trust those who have found success.

Also remember a key point Louie makes… many powerlifters were guys who didn’t have the genetics to make it as NFL guys, yet they are far stronger, and probably more powerful too… so what happened? They have found superior methods , superior training environments, and focus. Do I want to be a powerlifter…nope. Do I admire them for implementinga system that makes sense for the requirements of their sport…yep.

Thanks for the civil clarification. I need to be clear on something. I’ve made great progress on WSB and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Louie, Dave and the WSB guys. I’ve said it elsewhere; I’m not a blemish on their rear ends.

I don’t think the intent of the thread is to “trash” WSB so therefore the methods don’t require “defending”, but an intelligent discussion about where they may be lacking.

Your point about the accessory work is beautiful. Very insightful. I wish I had you down the street from me, I’d be elite by now. But a couple of points;

First, they preach the 4 day split as dogma on the basis that you can always be prepared to enter a meet which usually occurs on weekends. If there is any modification from the 4 day split, it is no longer a WSB template. Their reply is always, as you have alluded to, that you are doing too much work. I find this a bit too simplistic frankly and having personally worked with the 4 day split for 8 years or so, I can assure you I wasn’t doing too much work.

Enter “DB Hammer”. I find his AREG method absolutely exciting. Now, I fully realize that his AREG system is not based upon any science per se, but admittedly by him upon his personal “research” and experience with his athletes. I’m sure those more learned that I can find fault with AREG, but I believe AREG provides a basis to begin managing fatigue, volume and recovery. It is a starting point and therefore better than nothing. My point is, it is far more intelligent than hammering the square peg of the 4 day cycle into the round hole of every athlete. I’ve been using his principles for a month and have already made gains. And they ain’t newbie gains :slight_smile: I’m a 600+ squatter and deadlifter, 400+ bencher (natural) with shitty leverages. I’m a former semi-pro basketball player, at 6.1 185lbs in my playing days, that “fell into” powerlifting at the age of 30, who is now 275lbs @ approximately 14BF and dropping (summer is coming after all :slight_smile: ). Although I find some of DB’s exercise prescriptions unique (the ISO stuff, OI work, etc.), it cannot explain the progress I’ve made. I firmly believe the progress is the application of AREG, however imperfect.

So, for me, the greatest “weakness” of the WSB template is lack of recovery, and lack of a means to manage the volume, particuarly on the accessory work. Managing volume according to “feel” is crap, and I think you would agree.

My future plans? Merge the DB Hammer stuff into the WSB. I want to use the AREG formula and add DB’s ISO, OI, etc work into the WSB template, the latter of which is not big deal as a OI Squat becomes merely another movement option on the training day.

One other concern about WSB. I find that too much of the prescribed work is too short in duration and nothing I’ve found in WSB addresses that. Having incorporated the DB stuff, I find myself working at max effort under tension for periods exceeding 5-9 seconds and I don’t believe I’ve ever done that under WSB. Let’s look at a typical Max Effort WSB day. Typically, we’re working up to 3 reps tops, perhaps a single. I assure you I am getting 3 of those reps under 9 seconds. I know its how I’m “wired”, but WSB does nothing to address my relative CNS “weakness”. Let’s even look at dynamic day; again, working far under 9 seconds for both the squat and bench. Therefore, I’m concerned with all the work at this point in the force curve.

Next, when addressing one’s weaknesses (admittedly a cornerstone of the WSB system, and a sound one at that), it just doesn’t make sense to me to keep banging away at max effort work and dynamic work in the same week. Other than the “elite” lifters, what does a sub elite guy really lose by addressing a CNS weakness and hitting that for 2 week cycles with proper recovery?

I don’t know if I’m communicating this effectively. What I’m getting at, is that I like the WSB template, but find myself questioning why I need to bang away at dynamic box squats and bench every single week while potentially ignoring (relatively) other needs? What does a guy like me (and 99% of everyone else sub elite) lose?

Finally, although I have tremendous respect for Louie, I am always leery of a layperson reading the “science” and then interpreting it making a system. I think guys like CF and CT for example, have the necessary background to do it successfully.

I hope none of the foregoing is construed to be an attack on WSB or those guys! Just the start of an intelligent discussion that will either tend to prove or disprove elements of the system and, as Silverback has already done, provide ideas to modify it successfully. I for one, will surely be picking Silverback’s brain :slight_smile:


It’s pretty simple actually.

Day 1 AM running
PM Chest&BAck

Day 2 Am running
PM Legs

Day 3 AM running
PM shoulders and Arms
The running changes based on what system i am in at the time, (ie speed, tempo.) For the lifting I’ll choose I max effort move on a bodypart, then I’ll do some acessory and supplimental work after. My forty has dropped from a 4.8 to around a 4.5, My bench went from 385 to 410. This is all since January.

I havent noticed this mentioned yet, so I will chime in. It has been said before, “if you dont train AT WESTSIDE, you do not train WESTSIDE”. I have had the pleasure of training at westside several times, and believe me, the work ethic and competition there is unmatched. If you use lou’s methods, and adapt them to your needs, then you are now using your own methods based on conjugate periodization. This could mean including OL’s or anything else. It would be impossible to apply exactly what is going on there to you, or any athlete, and get max results. Thats why some have problems making the system work for them. They are not addressing their needs, or, doing too much of the wrong thing. Not that training there would not make you incredibly strong and explosive, because it sure as shit will! The simple fact is most people wouldnt be able to handle it, especially poorly trained or inexperianced athletes. Coaches must adapt the program for their needs, as should young lifters. You cannot apply what you see Chuck doing to your athletes, you will kill them! Coach H and X, 62 are some of the masters at applying this method to athletes. Just look at the results. Another not. Why not apply the simplest methods possibe with athletes? Specifically, why not try some of westsides older methods first. Dont introduce bands untill you learn to get the max benefit from chain, or, just use straight weight! I have noticed many guys trying to use circa-maximal squat methods, frequent extra workouts, etc. when all they really needed was to stick to basics for a while. When I was just begining, I was guilty of these same mistakes. Just some thoughts to add to discussion.

I agree with you, as this is the progrssion we take with our athletes. And you are right about training Westside… I never train anyone Westside, as I train rate dominant sports using conjugate periodization, whereas PL’s are Strength Dominant.

Thanks for the thoughts…

I don’t want to “throw out the baby with the bath water” b/c your message is valid. HOwever, what we are discussing is the “methodoligies” as promulgated by WSB through their writings, seminars, tapes, etc. To say if you don’t train “there”, you aren’t training WSB is a bit fallacious. There is no doubt that there is much to be gained by working with someone that can watch you and give you constant feedback. In addition, just having that level of athlete around you when training will elevate you psychologically and performance wise too. All your points are valid. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say you have to train “there”. Unless of course, you want to make the argument that their own writing is inaccurate. I know they don’t share “everything”, but we are discussing what they HAVE shared. And finally, I want to make sure I add the disclaimer that, we are not necessarily “trashing” WSB, just discussign possible improvements to an already great system.


Great Thread everyone (and I’m using a heavily modified WSB template currently, and I like it) -I’ll play devil’s advocate -

Again, realizing that WSB is a template, that can be adapted mightily for very specific needs, some possible objections -

  1. For Sprinters, how neccesary are Dynamic effort days or true Maximal efforts (striving for a new 1rm)?
  2. Would it be wise do you think to rotate out Squat variants every 1-3 weeks in the developing sprinters program, as they are so crucial in developing the neccesary “organism” and specific leg strength?
  3. 2 days a week (and those CNS reserves) on Benching and all the assistance exercises?
  4. what happens to the template and the GPP in the SPP, precomp, and comp phases of a sprinter?

— Just wanting to add to the discourse

Seems to me that DE days are redundant in a sprinter’s program. Sprinting itself provides stimulus at the speed end of the power spectrum and is quite specific!

As far as Max effort (specifically 1RM), I would do this rarely if at all. Since the goal for a sprinter is to run fast, not lift the most weight, the cost/benefit for testing 1RM is pretty poor. Generally I like to keep my weights and reps such that I always have one or two reps in my pocket at the end of a set. This seems to provide a nice stimulus for strength gain while not totally trashing the CNS and helps to mitigate injury risks as well.

Thanks for the replies. I want to make more of a specific statement. When I said, “your not training westside, unless you train at westside”, that basically means they are doing new things everyday to peak powerlifting performance. Also, I stated basically that the environment at westside is very intense, making it unique to any other. They are always trying new things in order to improve.

Also, I can tell you that if you contact Jim wendler, Dave Tate, Mike Ruggeria, Big Tim, Louie, Bob Youngs etc. they will take time out of their schedule to help you in any way–For FREE. That means helping you create a program to fit your needs if your a coach or lifter or whatever. Everything you see in the EFS training logs is exactly what is going on at westside.

If the goal of the athlete is to be strong and explosive, The basic westside template (tweaked to fit the sport) will get it done. The idea that powerlifters are slow is no longer valid. Lou’s lifters are some of the most explosive guys in any sport. “Your full of shit” you say, call lou up and make the trip to see for yourself. He will be happy to do it.

Hey guys, I wish you all luck. This is a great place for discussion.

Steve, I think you are debating semantics to a certain degree.
To state that any modification to the 4 day split is no longer the WSB template is a bit erroneous. Although the 4 day split is conventionally used to accomodate the Saturday meet, I have not come across any references, or otherwise, which elude to the fact that any deviation thereof indicates the use of an entirely different training method. This would be like stating that because a lifter must add additionaly recovery time to the traditional high training volume of the Bulgarian’s that that lifter is no longer utilizing the Bulgarian’s method of training. Tomato vs Tomato

As far as lack of recovery time and means to manage volume goes, this is a highly subjective statement. What do you say about the multitudes of drug free lifters who experience consistent performance increases?

Volume is just as easily managed with the WSB template as any other template. Total number of repetitions at any given intensity is an easily quantifiable number. Additionally, when referrencing assistance work, we may now think in terms of bodybuilding perspective in which case loading parameters are highly subjective to any given athlete. Meaning the loading parameters necessary to induce hypertrophy in lifter A are likely to be completely different for lifter B.

Enter cybernetic periodization.

Although you feel that this concept is “crap” you are clearly speaking for yourself, as this concept has stood the test of time for many different kinds of lifters and athletes alike.

Your ‘relative CNS weaknesses’ are illustrated on max effort and dynamic effort work. This is what your training partners must observe and qualify. Relative CNS weakness is cleary observable through observing performance of lifts and tracking the quality of volume of work performed.

Why does the concept of “banging away at ME and DE work in the same week” confuse you? If we look at this issue from a relative perspective than the intensity of CNS training of the Bulgarian’s must send you off of the deep end. LOL

Again, I must site the many drug free lifters who Louie, and many others, including myselft, have sited that experience great results from the program.

You don’t have to “bang away at DE box squats and bench every week”, but if you do you, and know how to address your weaknesses than you will find that your total will steadily increase.

It is misinforming for you to pigeonhole the WSB as primarily effective only for drug aided elite lifters.

For example: I have only seriously been utilizing the WSB method for 1.5 years. I am drug free and I recently benched 473 @242 at 6’1" with long arms (501 was going up but came out of the groove, oh well) at my FIRST competition the APF California Central States Bench Competition. I will be competiting in the AAPF in Vegas Sept 3-5 and I am on track for a 600-650squat 500 bench and 600dl at a drug free 242, this will be my first full meet.

My training parter, a drug free 280 went 710-573-661 at the APF California central States in his FIRST full meet. And he left a whole lot on the platform. I expect him to go in the neighborhood of 800-600-700 @285-290 at the Vegas AAPF meet in September.

Without having seen you train the only observable discrepency of the WSB method must be in your application of the system.

Incidentally, I am really enjoying the posts by you and Silverback, I hope there will be more to come.


some of the guys have been moving to a 3 day split…here’s the link from elitefts.


I love your posts on this site, they are some of the best…

but, Sprinting and Dynamic days are vastly different, here is why:

To illustrate how the force spectrum is layed out in terms of exercises, I will list them from Rate to Pure Strength Dominant.

Sprinting = Max Rate


Ballistics (Jump Squats, Medicine Ball Work, etc)

Classic Lifts Done Dynamically (Box Squats, Bench Press, or Weight Vest x-Push ups)
O-Lifts (Snatch, Cleans, Push-Jerks, Possibly Jammer, hybrids)
The past two listings = Max Force (aka, the fence)

Strength Training

Pure Isometrics = Max Strength (aka sustainable force)

Therefore, sprinting and Dynamic box squats are very different. With Classic lifts done dynamically from 40-50% of Max or O-lifts done with 70-85% of Max, the highest power output is reached for most athletes… sprinting, on the other hand is far more rate dominant. The other aspect of sprinting that causes it to be different is that much of the power displayed in sprinting isn’t voluntary, but rather is completely reactive due to the trained elastic qualities we all possess. While box squats do posses some form of plyometric, or stored effect, static weight must be overcome through a voluntary contraction. If I had to think about voluntarily firing when I sprinted, I’d be in trouble…or in last place.

I am going to assume you haven’t done box squats, because I think if you had, you’d probably not have said what you did. I was a skeptic when I first read about and saw them, way back during the deepsquatter days… but, after training for some time with a dynamic component, I am a believer… especially once I added chains and bands into my wave load. Give them a true good faith effort and you might be pleased.

silverback, good post and i think this makes for a good discussion. i know charlie said at one point that he thinks dynamic bench and squat are not necessary since the rfd and/or speed created when sprinting is far faster than a dynamic bench or squat.