My Fictional Dinner with Louie Simmons

TAGS: vogelpohl, lowder, dinner, simmons, Louie, WSBB

My brain works like a puppy on crack. It never seems to stop. Unlike Homer Simpson, I can’t seem to get it to stop working for even short periods. What I can do is try to direct my train of thought. Working in my lab, I often have many experiments that involve tasks that I have performed hundreds or thousands of times before.

Because (as Jim keeps telling me) the radio sucks, it is easy to get bored. In order to keep myself entertained, I often have conversations in my head. This is one that I have been having as of late in which I discuss training philosophies and have a Q&A with the guru, Louis Simmons. Having read everything I could track down from Louis and watching every video and clip of his I could find, I envisioned a conversation something like this…

Me: It occurred to me that a strong midsection truly is the point from which all great squats and deadlifts originate.

Louis: Not just the squat and deadlift, but also the bench. What the hell do you think allows you to arch and drive into the bar? How can you possibly hold on to a 700-pound bar and press it over your chest if you can’t hold a 700-pound bar on your back?

Me: I’ve been lucky in that I’ve had some very knowledgeable and practical physiology professors in my educational training. My favorite told me years ago, “When you’re training, you’re really training your energy systems.” Can you comment on that?

Louis: Of course you’re training your energy systems. Ever hear of “lactic acid training?” Why do you think we train our speed strength so hard? There is no “light day” in our system of training. There are only fast and heavy days. If you can drive a 300-pound bar fast, you can exert enough force to drive a 500-pound bar. You won’t drive it as fast, but you can still lock the thing out. We train to be fast in order to be strong. If you want to train to be fast, you must condition yourself to be fast. That takes energy that is generated from the fuel sources in the muscle. When you train yourself to move a weight fast, you’re training your energy systems to deliver fuel fast. Happy now?

Me: Not everyone lifts in the same organizations and each seems to have different rules. How would you train a lifter who competes in the IPF with their very strict rules on squat depth and bench shirts versus a lifter who competes in the WPO?

Louis: The same. The same rules apply—you must know how to squat, how to place your feet, and how to drive your knees. Most people are going to be weak in the low back anyways so depth is the least of their problem. If you want to squat deeper, then drop the box down and hit your depth. The only thing you will need to keep in mind is that if you’re wearing a double ply or thicker shirt, you will need to work on your lockout more than if you are in single ply.

Me: Do you think that the same training ideas can be applied to drug-free lifters as to those who aren’t?

Louis: Of course. Look at the IPF winners over the past few years. Who keeps winning? The Russians, the eastern Europeans, and all of those whose ideas I have applied to the Westside method of training. Look at those who are winning even small local meets. A helluva lot of them read what we do and they do very well.

Me: Why is it that you can keep up with lifters half your age in training?

Louis: Why is it that most lifters half my age can’t keep up with me? I know what I am doing. Don’t you?

Me: Do you plan all of your training sessions ahead of time?

Louis: I know what I will do. I don’t always know the exercises or the weights, but I know what I want to get done for that particular day. Let’s say it is my max effort day. I walk in and the others have started a few minutes before me. I was going to do good mornings, but they are pulling from the rack and giving me crap for being an old man. I won’t let that happen so instead of good mornings, I pull from the rack. And I pull better than they do because I’m not going to let anyone beat me in my weight room.

Me: Can you train anyone to be strong?
Louis: I can train anyone to be strong who wants to be strong and is willing to work.

Me: I hear that you love the sled for recovery work, GPP, and putting on size. Others say they don’t get much out of it. I put on about 15–20 pounds by incorporating sled work. Actually, I used an old tire and just threw plates on top of it.

Louis: Maybe you will get a sled for Christmas. The sled works for me. Find out what works for you. One reason that I can still lift the way I do is because of my recovery methods. When you know how to speed up recovery, you will be able to hit the weights harder. I used to get injured when I was younger. Back then, I didn’t do much recovery or GPP work. Now, I do a ton, and I’m not injured like back then. I have tried everything and some things many times. You have to be willing to try new things and learn when they work and when they don’t. You only make a mistake when you fail to learn.

Me: Do you follow any special diet?

Louis: I eat.

Me: How important are your training partners?
Louis: Without them, I’m just another lifter. Training partners are everything. Let me say that again—good training partners are everything.

Me: Will powerlifting ever be in the Olympics?
Louis: Who cares?

Me: You have stated that the best movie ever made is Samurai Assassin. What is the second best movie ever made?

Louis: There are no other movies.

Me: Who is crazier, you or Vogelpohl?
Louis: Chuck is crazy if he thinks he is better looking than me.

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