Westside Raw- Is it possible?

TAGS: WSBB, bench, powerlifting, Elitefts Info Pages, barbell, bench press, training

I've heard every excuse in the book on why you cannot train in the same manner as Westside Barbell. I have heard people say that you need to compete in certain federations, that you have to wear powerlifting equipment or that you have to use drugs. My opinion is that all of these excuses are bullshit. Many people will not learn anything about what they are doing, go through the motions and then say it doesn't work. I am far from an elite lifter. My best total is 1465lbs at 220lbs. I will show you how I came about using the Westside system and how it has helped me.

I started lifting to get stronger for football. While I enjoyed doing it, I didn't know anything. My training partner and I used to go page to page in Franco Columbo's book "Winning Bodybuilding". We would be in my basement for 2-3 hours at a time.

For many years after that I followed various routines found in any of the bodybuilding publications. After years of getting nowhere fast. I found an old issue of Powerlifting USA in my father-in-law's basement. I started reading it and soon found a gym that had the kind of equipment and atmosphere needed (Ironsport Gym, Glenolden, PA.) The owner is a former World's Strongest Man competitor and professional Highland Games athlete. On top of that there are many athletes, powerlifters, strongman competitors, etc. I then ordered a subscription to PLUSA and started to scour the magazine from front to back gathering info. I started out using some of the periodized routines, but soon found that when I got to the heavy weeks I usually ended up missing lifts or hurting myself. I had read a lot of Louis Simmons old articles and didn't really understand a lot of what he was writing about.

I then began to purchase the Westside Barbell videos. This is when things started to change, I began using some of the principles and ideas and I began to get stronger. I made the usual mistakes, too heavy on speed day, not straining
on the max effort day, doing way too many exercises. At one point, I was doing the main work then for assistance I was doing 3 or 4 exercises for each body part. I ended up finding an article written by Dave Castor about Louis Simmons and his training methods. It had everything broken down and was easy to understand. I soon was finding info all over the place. Matt Hawkins had a Westside routine broken down all the way to the" extra workouts". I started to understand that speed was more important than the weight on the dynamic day, and I learned how to strain and not pick my favorite max effort exercises every time I went to the gym. I basically started to do the training the way it was supposed to be done. When something stopped working, I switched it up. The main thing like figuring out your weak points is easy to do. Your weak points are weak points whether you wear gear or not.

Some people have trouble going from a box squat to a regular squat. This is easy to overcome if your form is good. Have a coach or seasoned lifter watch your form and make adjustments as needed. You don't need to worry about a carryover because you are not using gear. Training Westside raw, there are some minor adjustments you may want to make. On the bench I would do the dynamic day exactly the same way a gear lifter would. Just remember that you are going for speed and explosiveness on this day. Leave the heavy weights for the max effort day. Every week I would alternate full range max effort moves with partial range moves. The accessory and supplemental lifts consisted of exercises for the triceps, upper back, lats and shoulders.

Squatting is a little tricky. If you are not used to box squatting all the time, it will throw you off when you go to a meet. My advice would be to do some squatting without the box until you are used to doing this. Also you will want to add about 10% to the prescribed percentages for the squat, but still use bar speed as a guideline. This style of training has the benefits of working on all the different strengths at one time, in a complete package. This is unlike a periodized routine where there are different phases. I think this style of training keeps your mind and body fresh by using different exercises and not the same old set/rep scheme week after week. It also keeps training fun and competitive at the same time. If you keep breaking max effort records and your speed is good, you should be fine when you go to a meet. Instead of the usual "I did 300 for a triple, I should be good for…?" Why go to a meet wondering what you can do, when you could go in knowing what you can handle. I've used this system for almost 4 years, although I did make many mistakes the first year. I've added 400lbs to my total without the use of gear, drugs or gaining a ton of weight. It just takes a while to get accustomed too. Good luck and I hope this gives some good insight.

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