In a simple linear program, it's somewhat easy to know how you get ready for the meet: your bar weight increases and your reps decrease until you make it to the meet, taking your heaviest attempts of the training cycle. In a Westside or conjugate program, however, you're training heavy with singles and triples almost year-round. To a lot of lifters, this makes peaking a confusing concept.

For today's Table Talk, Dave gives advice on conjugate peaking in response to a question from an elitefts reader:

"If you're training using Westside or conjugate protocol, what do you change as you taper for a meet?"

Though it will change considerably based on the individual and the design of the final dynamic wave, Dave gives some general guidelines to follow for heavy work going into the meet.

  • Last heavy pull: 21 days out
  • Last heavy squat: 14 days out
  • Last heavy bench: 7 days out

That final week is basically just restorative work. Though Dave hasn't found it useful himself, a lot of people will do max effort work for the bench the Wednesday before the meet. If you do choose to do this, it's important to choose the safest movement with the least risk.

As a general programming note regarding conjugate training, Dave says that where most people get confused is failing to realize that everything in the program is based on the dynamic effort waves. Dynamic work is designed in a pendulum wave style—usually three or five weeks but no longer—and it's really the only thing that is truly designed in a wave fashion. For this reason, you should always begin the process of writing your program by starting with the dynamic work.

MORE: Top Training Tips For Advanced Lifters — The Last Two Weeks, Coaching, and Programming

You should plan your three-week waves for the squat first. This is the very beginning step and should be the only thing that's really written in stone. The last three-week wave before the meet will be reserved for peaking; you might instead use five weeks if you use a circa max approach, but this would include two weeks that are "down" weeks.

Dave points out that most lifters make it far more difficult than it needs to be, and it can really be somewhat simple. For dropping max effort work prior to the meet, follow the outline above. For speed work, by seven days out your last speed bench session can be four sets instead of eight, with only half the accessory work you would normally hit. Recover the week of the meet.

The best approach is to plan the dynamic work first, fill in the blanks for max effort work, and base the supplemental and accessory work on what your current strengths and weaknesses are.