In another installment of Westside Misconceptions, Dave takes on a topic few lifters know the truth about: the standards at Westside. When talking about the difficulty of being part of Westside and the high standards every lifter was held to, it's not just about the training. Being at Westside meant you were pushed to your limits in far more ways than the weight you moved.

There were rules of being at Westside. If you trained as part of the 8:30 AM crew and you showed up late, you were thrown out of the gym. If your effort sucked for a few weeks and you were lazy, you were out. The mentality was that the gym was only as strong as its weakest person, and if the weakest person was a tweed, they were out. This led to many very talented, very elite lifters being thrown out.

Part of being at Westside meant understanding what you could contribute to the gym. It was clear what Westside could do for you — it could turn you into one of the strongest lifters in the world. But what could you give back? This was the question asked of every member. You had to make everyone else at the gym stronger.

The main point here is that the standard at Westside was really fucking high. And the standard would never be lowered — even if you couldn't live up to it. In fact, most people there felt they couldn't live up to the standard, Dave included. But that didn't stop them from doing everything they could to try.

When meets came around, you were either lifting in the meet or you were at the meet helping the people who were. If you weren't helping every other lifter at every meet, you were out. When the lower tier lifters were lifting in state meets, the upper tier lifters went to help them in the same way that the lower tier lifters helped the upper tier lifters at world meets. Every member was there to make the others stronger.

To be on the board at Westside, at the time, meant you had to break the all-time world record, because that was pretty much everybody that was on the board.

Dave then discusses several training aspects of his time at Westside:

  • Dave is very cautious in the use of a circa max phase. Everything else has to be perfect and every training factor has to be consistent; technique, equipment, training days, training times, training partners, etc., all have to be consistent.
  • The max effort method is about learning to strain and knowing what to do when you hit a wall in a lift. For it, you use exercises that have correspondence to the main squat, bench, and deadlift, but are not identical to the competition lifts.
  • You don't have to know ever PR going into max effort training, but you can determine what 90% and above is every session. This doesn't always require calculating numbers.
  • Dave prefers a new lift each week for max effort weeks, using singles.
  • Each part of the system, including details about the max effort, dynamic effort, and repetition effort can be found in Dave's article, "The Eight Keys, A Complete Guide to Maximal Strength Development."

WATCH: Westside Misconceptions — Athlete Recruitment Process

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