Matt Rhodes has come a long way. I met Matt at the University of Arizona where we played football and partied together. Matt was never much of a lifter at Arizona and I’d be willing to be that he could barely squat 315lbs and bench 285lbs while at the U of A. After graduation, Matt and I continued to stay in touch and he began to show an interest in lifting.

Few people have traveled as extensively as Matt has to further his quest for strength. Matt lives in Massachusetts and has made many road trips to Ohio (Westside Barbell), Kentucky (Confederate Barbell), Connecticut (Southside), New York (Iron Island), and Pennsylvania. He travels twice a week to train, each trip being 3 hours. He does this because he knows that in order to get strong, you have to train with strong people. Matt is the best example of doing EVERYTHING and ANYTHING to reach his goals. He refuses to give excuses and finds a way. It is as simple as that.

Matt is one of the least physically gifted lifters that I have ever seen. He is around 6’4” tall and weighs about 275lbs. He has very long arms and long legs. In fact, when Matt first came to Westside (he was around 240lbs), Dave called me up and said “Your tall volleyball friend squatted with us today.” That should give you an idea about Matt’s physique.

Matt has tried just about every kind of split and template imaginable. In fact, Rhodes was the first person to test the Westside 3 day/week training template that I wrote about in a Force Training article last year. Matt continues to grow and get stronger. His best lifts include a 790 squat, a 465 bench press and a 655 deadlift. He has recently begun training with Vinnie Dizenzo and has recently hit a 550lbs bench press in training.

Matt Rhodes' Westside Template

Raw/DE Bench Day
1. Raw - work up to a heavy 1-3 reps
Dynamic - 4-10x3 (usually used the last 6-8 weeks before a contest)
2. Military Press - up to heavy 3-5
3. Rear Delts
4. Shrugs
5. Light Biceps and Triceps by feel

Squat/DL Assistance Day
1. 45 Degree DL/GM's - up to a Max 3-5
2. GHR/Band Leg Curls/Band GM's
3. Bent Rows/Seated Rows/CSR - to a heavy 5
4. Lat Pulldowns/Pull-ups
5. Neck
6. Abs

ME Bench/Shirt Day
1. 4, 5 ,or 6 Board - to a Max Single
2. Shirt Work
3 weeks of Triples followed by a week out of the shirt
3 weeks of Doubles followed by a week out of the shirt
3 weeks of Singles followed by a week out of the shirt
3. Lockout Work - to a Max Single
Rack Lockouts, Reverse Band Rack Lockouts, Chain Suspended Lockouts

DE Squat/ME DL
Week 1
1. DE Squat 3-5x2
2. Work up to heavy single with or without the Suit
3. DL Variation to a heavy single
4. Abs

Week 2
1. DE Squat 4-6x2
2. ME DL - Work to a Max single
3. Abs
4. GHR

This is my basic template every week. I went to this because my body was getting too beat up. My elbows especially took a beating and squatting once a week was a huge help. I only have to really get mentally prepared for 2 workouts per week instead of four. It has helped me mentally and physically. It's a lot more fun being able to just workout and not have to be focused all the time.

Shirt Work
I try to add 15 lbs each week. This is the last cycle I followed.
Week 1 - 405x3
Week 2 - 425x3
Week 3 - Out of Shirt
Week 4 - 440x2
Week 5 - 455x2PR!
Week 6 - 470x2PR! 9previous PR was 465x1 in a meet)
Week 7 - Out of Shirt
Week 8 - 500x1PR!
Week 9 - 515x1PR!
Week 10 - Out of Shirt
Week 11 - 530x1PR!
Week 12 - 550x1PR!
Week 13 - Out of Shirt
Week 14 - Work up to Opener - 500x1

Other notes on Shirt Day - all exercises are done with a competition grip

Raw/DE Bench Day - Reverse Band Press, Ultra-wides, Comp Grip, Close-grips
We also use bands, chains, or bands and chains on this day

DE Squat/DL Notes
On weeks where I work up to a heavy single in the squat I use straight weight. I follow squats with a DL variation - Rack Pulls, Reverse Band Pulls, Pulls off blocks
On weeks where I do ME DL, I use bands, chains, or bands and chains

I wave my weights for each phase. The weights are 415 - 435 - 465 with or without accommodating resistance.

I hope this helps everyone get an idea of how Matt has changed and adapted his training to fit his schedule and his needs.