How many times have you heard someone dismiss Westside as as program that only works for raw lifters? How many questions on the Q&A have you seen about adapting Westside for a lifter who isn't in gear? Spend a little time on the internet and you can find endless advice telling raw lifters to avoid Westside, or to change significant aspects if they hope to get stronger using it.

In this video, Dave addresses a common misconception about training at Westside from the time he was there in the 1990s and 2000s: the program was designed for geared lifting. Prior to moving to Columbus and joining Westside, Dave had been speaking with Louie on occasion from 1983 to 1988 and integrating some of his training methods, but still largely using various forms of linear periodization that included regular use of powerlifting gear. His progression of training with the inclusion of gear went something like this:'

  • Knee wraps for any weight over 405 pounds, any time of the year.
  • Begin wearing briefs at eight weeks out from the meet.
  • Several weeks after adding briefs, add the squat suit with straps down.
  • Several weeks after adding the squat suit, put the straps up.

This layout changed entirely once Dave went to Westside. It became common to only wear briefs on the dynamic effort squat day and nothing else. In fact, they would often only wear gear twice: once when they got it just to see how it would fit (with no lifting being done), and then on meet day. At first this took a little getting used to for Dave, because he typically used his bench shirt for anything five reps or under and would design his training program to include work in gear. The shift in training philosophy was clear: just fucking get stronger. The idea was that if you got stronger without the gear, you'd be stronger once you put the gear on.

The one downside to this Dave calls out is is the fit of the gear. If you missed a meet or got hurt, it was very possible to go an entire year without having worn your gear. What happens when you come back, train for a meet, bloat up, and try to get into your gear? It doesn't fit and as a result you can't hit depth, can't touch in your shirt, and you're in trouble.

This changed over time, as the carryover lifters could get from gear increased. As lifters stared to get 80, 100, 200, or even 300 pounds out of a bench shirt (yes, 300 pounds), this had to change. Skill work in the gear became necessary throughout the training cycle, which is not something that had mattered during the era of single-ply gear that you simply hoped wouldn't blow out at the met. This shift changed a lot of things in the sport of powerlifting. In the 2000s when lifters started to really hone their gear use, all of the sudden a guy with more skill could beat a guy with superior genetics. Now you didn't have to be the most genetically gifted person to win a top-level meet.

WATCH: Westside Misconceptions — Max Effort Workouts in Circa Max Phase