Matt Rhodes' 3-Day Westside Split

TAGS: periodization, matt rhodes, deadlift, squat, powerlifting, strength training, Elitefts Info Pages, bench press, training

About a year and a half ago I was physically and mentally drained from powerlifting.  I have to admit that I was actually thinking about training like a bodybuilder.  Luckily, I am proud of my chest and back hair, and I'm also heterosexual - so no bodybuilding for me.  But there was definitely a problem.  I had no motivation to go to the gym and worse, I couldn't even get motivated when I got to the gym.  Even a picture of Britney Spears in her outfit from the 'Slave' video couldn't get me going.

Here's what was wrong.  I worked overnights, my sleeping was screwed up, and my body couldn't recover from workout to workout.  I was always working around injuries and making no progress.  If the elbows felt good, the shoulders were shot.  And so on down the line.  So, as usual, I made my call to Jim Wendler.  The rest is history.

This is what we came up with.  I would still have the 4 workouts - ME Squat/DL, ME Bench, DE Squat/DL, and DE Bench - but I would do them in 8 days instead of 7.  The schedule would rotate like this:

Wednesday - ME Squat/DL

Friday - ME Bench

Sunday - DE Squat/DL

Wednesday - DE Bench

Friday - ME Squat/DL

Sunday - ME Bench

The way I organized it was like this.  I wanted my last DE Bench workout to fall on Sunday the week before the meet.  I wanted my last DE Squat/DL workout to fall on Friday, 9 days before the meet.  I just set it up and counted backwards.  As far as my assistance work, it stayed the same.  I may have done an extra set or an extra exercise here and there, but basically, it remained the same.  The main difference was that I went all out every workout.  I didn't save anything on DE Bench day because I was planning to work up in the shirt the following week.

What I found after 2 weeks was a renewed excitement for training.  I couldn't wait to get into the gym and start training.  All of my sessions were very focused and productive.  I honestly don't remember having a bad day.  I know I did, but they were few and far between.  I always felt rested and ready to go.  My elbow and shoulder problems calmed down and I could actually train to get stronger instead of training around injuries.

I competed in the 2004 Iron House Classic.  I squatted 775 (previous best was 650), I benched 465 (previous best was 455 - I suck), and I deadlifted 615 (previous best was 605).  I tweaked my hamstring squatting and it acted up on me in the bench and DL.  I pulled my opener and passed on my other 2 attempts in the DL.

Looking back, the 3-Day split was very effective for me.  It helped me overcome some injury and motivation issues that were holding me back.  It also accommodated my schedule at the time.  The only thing I would do differently is make sure that on the weeks where I benched once, I'd do ME/Shirt work.  The weeks where I benched twice, I would do the ME and DE workouts.  For the Squat/DL I would make sure to do DE Squat on the weeks where I only squatted once.  I've found that ME Bench and DE Squat are my gauges for progress.  If those workouts go well, I'm feeling good and getting stronger.

If you're feeling beat up, worn out, or just need a change, this might be something you'd want to look into.

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