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Do you spend hours researching all the different strength programs looking for the perfect miracle program that will make you and everyone else strong as hell? The one that always works and continues to keep making you stronger and stronger? Well, I spent years of my life looking for this holy grail and you know what? It doesn't exist!

There isn't any one perfect program for everyone, and there isn't any one program that will continue to make you stronger and stronger. Honestly, you may stumble across a program that may work for awhile, but in the long run, there isn't any set program that can continually keep making you stronger. This is because everyone is different and everyone has different lives. We all have different genetics and different things that we have to deal with. We also all have different mentalities. On top of that, all these factors change as we get stronger and older. There are just simply too many factors and too many ways these factors change for there to be one program that works for everyone.

I truly wish I could say that I had this miracle program guaranteed to work for everyone and that right now you can buy it for the discounted price of $19.99! I would make people as strong as hell and probably make a crap load of money. I wish I could say that the program I use is my very own original program totally designed by me. The truth is that the program I use is just a modified Westside or conjugate method program. You could also call it force training if you want. Yes, it's my program, but I won't say that I came up with it and give it yet another name. I modified it to fit what I need and I left it open enough to fit my training partners' needs while still being set up in a way that we could all train together. My program (the program I use anyway) was actually created by many people. Parts came from Louie Simmons, parts came from other Westside guys, parts came from Dave Tate, parts came from me, parts came from my training partners and parts came from countless other powerlifters. And don't forget that all these people learned what they know from those who came before them. At this point in the progression of strength, I don't think any program is truly original anymore. Everything is a blend of knowledge over the years and a progression of training.

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I'm not even sure anymore when I gave up on the idea of a holy grail of strength training programs. I think it was a gradual transition that happened as I was getting stronger and helping make my teammates stronger. I kept looking for that perfect set in stone program while modifying and changing what I was doing. At some point, I fully realized that there simply wasn't an all-for-one program out there. I realized that the top twenty lifters in the world all trained differently. The common ground wasn't a program, an exercise, certain drugs, certain nutrition or anything else like that. The only common ground was that each one of them learned what he needed to do in order to achieve the level of strength he had.

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I also realized that most of these top lifters were pretty basic in their own training. Most of them would say, “Just fucking lift heavy and get strong as hell!” It seemed like it was more the smaller, weaker people who were coming up with all these strict, rigid programs with lots of percentages, sets and reps. The truly strong people trained more by how they felt and they kept things simple. It could be that as a beginner, you can use these programs to get stronger, but to get really strong at some point, you have to let that all go. You have to learn what works for you and you have to learn to train by how you feel. I always think, why not teach people to train like that to begin with?

As I stopped looking for that holy grail, I decided that I needed to look at all this from a different angle. I needed to start over in my head with the basics and rework it. When I first started powerlifting, I wanted to learn from the best, and I did, but I missed something. My strength grew to the point where I had access to some of the strongest people on the planet. I could watch, listen, learn and ask questions. I began to ask myself questions, too.

I first asked myself, what were the principles that made logical sense to me and that I could believe in? What were the aspects of all the programs I've followed over the years that worked or made sense to me? This left me with conjugate and force training. I liked the idea of training speed as well as max strength. That seemed very logical to me. I liked the idea of always changing things up to surprise the body and mind. It made sense to me that my body would have to keep growing and adapting. I thought about the idea that you're only as strong as your weakest link, and I believe this to be true. These are very basic principles that I would argue with anyone and that I think every lifter could embrace.

Again, I thought about how so many of the top lifters all trained differently and how I had heard so many stories of how they trained by feel. They never got worked up or upset about their training schedules getting changed. This was, and still is, something that I struggle with because there is this part of my brain that wants a rigid plan.

My next question was, how do I put all this together so it has all these things in it and it's malleable or flexible enough to easily be changed? I also had this thought that I didn't need to invent the wheel if it had already been invented. I just needed to make it roll faster. This is where the basic Westside program came in for me. I learned very quickly that it isn't a set training program, even though I've seen many people use it like that. Instead, it's a basic outline or the infrastructure to an amazing program that can be molded to fit anyone. It's also very easy to chase and strengthen your weakest links with this program. It has all the principles and theories that I believe in and it's still adjustable in so many different ways. It really is an ideal framework if a lifter is willing to use his own gray matter and self-awareness.

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I can write about the transition that I went through in just a page or two, but in reality, it took years and years. When I first started powerlifting, I was doing an old 5 X 5 program. Then I started trying programs from Powerlifting USA. Finally, when I decided that it was time to learn from the best, I switched to the Westside program. Like I said, so many of the principles behind it made sense. I was going to stick with it, and I actually started changing it up pretty quickly, but I didn't really realize what I was doing. It was just kind of natural, and the entire time I was still searching for the holy grail of programs. I kept the search up while still changing the program to meet my needs. Then I started realizing that I needed to be able to change it differently for my other teammates. Finally, at some point, it became clear to me that there wasn't any holy grail but a good infrastructure for someone willing to use his brain. This was a pretty damn good start.

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I think about it as a progression of self-education and realization. It's the journey of a strength athlete and is similar to the journey of a Buddhist looking for true enlightenment. It's the strength athlete coming full circle, looking through all the learning and education to see that it isn't that complicated. Stick to the basic principles of training, nutrition and recovery and then make it fit you while listening to your body. Pretty simple.

I think lifters need to stop seeing training programs as rigid things that need to be followed to the T. They need to start seeing them as outlines, things that can be molded to fit one's own needs. Lifters need to open up their minds and start using programs instead of just following another's blindly. It's easy for someone to just regurgitate what he's learned, but lifters need to understand that knowledge and how it can benefit them as individuals. Training isn't about mathematics. It's actually a blend of science and art, not unlike photography. Just because you know how to operate a camera doesn't make you an amazing photographer. Maybe there is actually a holy grail training program, but it has to be made by you to fit your own hand perfectly.

Lift fucking heavy shit, get your fucking recovery, get fucking huge and get fucking strong as hell!

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