I first met Louie Simmons in the mid-80's. Louie was always there to offer advice to a snot-nosed kid that loved the sport. A decade later I was training at his gym, Westside Barbell. The next 15 years of my life was spent training with and learning from him.
I carry many of his lessons with me today and still continue to learn from him. The strength and conditioning and powerlifting worlds have all been changed and influenced by him. We all can still learn from his words and actions.
If people would take their head out of their asses and set their ego aside, they will see that what he teaches has nothing to do with multi-ply powerlifting and everything to do with strength and conditioning.
Looking through the Westside Barbell Instagram account, I found these quotes from Louie that I feel serve as great reminders and offer insights we can all learn from.
Here are what I consider the top 10 quotes they have posted.
* These are in no specific order.
This is a great reminder that strength and conditioning are more than just lifting weights. In powerlifting, all weak points come down to three things: physical issues, technical issues, and/or mental issues. Everyone wants to assume their problems are physical when in reality, many times they are mental/emotional. They are scared of the weights, set their standards too low, don't surround themselves with those who will push them to get better, let their ego get in their own way, and are afraid to be the little fish in a big pound.
Excuses are like assholes. We all remember this one. They are also contagious. If you surround yourself with those who are afraid to push to the limits and are ruled by fear, you will soon be the same. The statement I have heard and read since reading my first Brian Tracy book is, "You are the sum of the five people you surround yourself with." I have seen this re-quoted so many times I roll my eyes each time I see it. I agree with it, but I think I like the way Louie states it better.
The way I see this one, you are either willing to fight and work for what you want or you're not. It's not how much you hustle, hours you work, the time you put in, or if you think you paid your dues. It's about what you do and get done. To execute takes work and if you are not willing to do it - someone else will.
If there is anything Louie has said that people debate about the most, it is this one. Why would someone be willing to die for a sport? To become better? Maybe this is an old school way to think about it but I know that when I trained there, everyone I trained with was willing to die for five more pounds. That is just the way it was. The sport was our priority. If you are not willing to die for your number one priority than is it the most important thing in your life?
If you stop and think for a minute... What do you care about the most? Odds are you would be willing to die for it. If not, are you living for it? If not, what are you living for? This priority can be your family, your religion, your country, your work. That's for you to decide, not me.
I would add to this. You also need people who are at a level below you. This creates an environment where you have long term goals, short-term objectives, and people to pass on to, which enhances your ability as a coach and lifter. When you teach, you get better. All the years I was at Westside Barbell, it was drilled into me that it was my job to help those under me to beat me. Then when they did beat me, it was their job to help me beat them.
The two people I respect the most in the strength field are Louie Simmons and Buddy Morris. BOTH of these still read hours every day to get better. There are guys who have been around longer than 90% of all coaches still alive today. If they admit that they don't have it all figured out then how in the hell can those with a four-year degree or certification think they do? It is amazing to me that with all the accessibility to materials and people to learn from, how many people think they have it all figured out on their own and make up their own methods. You all know Louie doesn't claim 'Westside' is his method, right? He notes and credits where he got his ideas and methods from. Interesting to me that someone who I feel has every right in the world to claim his method doesn't but people in their early twenties now have their own "method."
I love this. I can write an article on this one but will just write a story. Soon after coming to Westside, I was walking across the gym with my briefs on and Louie jumped my shit saying my quads were way too big and that it was hurting my squat. At the time I was thinking that he was full of shit. After drastic changes to my training and technique, my squat took a 50-pound nose dive! So, was I correct? I stuck with it and one year later I squatted over 100 pounds more than I ever had using the same equipment. I also lost 3 inches off my quads.
It's never as easy as people think or make it out to me. In anything worth pursuing, there will be more adversity than prosperity. I would love to sit here and write about all the shit I have been through in my life but others have been through more. It's pointless to feel sorry for yourself. Nobody cares, and it doesn't change the fact that you still have a job to do. When you go down on the platform, the question shouldn't be about how bad it is, but about how long it will take to come back from. When the time does come to hang up the wraps, this one lesson applies to everything in life. It is EASY to quit. Everyone wants you to quit because it makes them feel better about themselves. When times are the hardest you will want to quit. NEVER. That is because the darkness will end and you do want to be there to see what's on the other side of hell.
Adapt, change, adapt, change. Repeat. You adapt to training- this also changes with age, environment, wear and tear, emotional health, etc. The hardest thing is to stay ahead of this. Most of us won't but we sure as hell can pivot when we know things are stagnant.
To the coaches out there: rather than writing about this one I just want you to take some time and think about this. No, don't just read this. Stop for a few minutes and think about it.
I've written extensively on what I've learned from Louie. You can find more information here.