The other day I talked about my interpretation of the conjugate method, more commonly mislabeled as Westside training. It is my opinion that you aren’t training in the Westside method unless you walk into the doors in Columbus and work with that team with Louie Simmons as your coach. Everything else conjugate is just your own interpretation.
I will preface the rest of this by saying that I never trained at WSBB. I have spoken with people who have, picked their brain, read in depth into the conjugate method as written by Louie and the book “A System of Multi Year Training” by Medvedyev; which you can find on Elite FTS here. This is a weightlifting manual, not a powerlifting book. You will have to cross reference between Louie’s writings and this one to attempt to figure out how he interprets this Russian text for powerlifting. Its not always simple, but the knowledge you gain is worth it.
You can buy that book, read the Westside Book of Methods, call people who have used the conjugate method successfully and learned as I did. Or you can guess how to use it, have results you aren’t looking for and then tell everyone it doesn’t work.
Keep in mind that I am not an elite lifter, I am not even a pro lifter. I am just a man who studied and applied what I learned to figure out what works for me. You should all do the same, learn as much as you can because you alone are responsible for the success you have in the gym.
The template I developed about 2 years ago is here for download. Luckily I save almost every single program I have written in the past 7-8 years so this is a gift.
The ME and DE exercises I picked were selected based upon what I needed to increase my lifts. First the ME lifts.
- SSB Box Squat – I have a habit of losing my back when squatting, the SSB helps me to learn to stay upright more, below parallel box
- DL From Knees (Rack Pull) – Wanted to increase my lockout strength, the knee height pull is a weak point in my lift
- Front Squat (arms crossed) – years of squatting like a PL causes less quad recruitment, the front squat forces the quads back into the equation
- Deficit DL (2-3”) – having had back issues from sports, the start of my pull was a mindfuck.
- Box Squat – low bar, below parallel
- Squat – free squat
After each ME Day we did a backoff set based upon how the ME exercise felt, sets and reps varied. Sometimes it was a few reps for extra volume, sometimes it was an all out one set to failure. I believe firmly that raw lifters need volume and this solved that problem for me.
- 3 board press
- Close Grip bench
- Rack Press with bands
- Shoulder Press
- 5 board press
- Bench Press
I have incredibly long arms, but have still managed to bench 450 with a lot of work. For a guy of my length, I will accept that as a win. I also bench with a pretty narrow grip. Like most of us who bench, the stronger your shoulders and triceps are, the stronger your bench will be. With that said I took some work away from the bench press and utilized some overhead movements as well to increase the strength of my shoulders. The boards were done with pauses and helped greatly with increasing tricep strength.
I am one of those guys that benefits from board work, you may not. You have to find what works for you. It may be pause benches, it may be using more dumbbell work (which poses a challenge for ME days).
The banded overhead press from the rack is something that works wonders for both my press and my bench, so I include that into any training program I design for myself.
The DE days were always two lifts. Box squat below parallel and close grip bench press.
My percentages were as follows in a 3 week cycle:
- 70% with bands/chains
- 75% with bands/chains
- 80% with bands/chains
As a raw lifter I know using 55% – 65% of bar weight with a ton of band tension wasn’t going to do much for me. So I bumped up the bar weight and used less band work to have a more consistent feel from start to finish. Every single rep was performed as fast as I could. My training partner and I used a stopwatch to time the reps. We had an idea where we should be based upon the first week using this template and we had a cap on sets. If our bar speed was lower than a certain percentage (10% of the target number) we took one more set to see if it was an anomaly or if it was fatigue. We capped it at 12 sets for all DE work regardless of bar speed to avoid overtraining (which is real).
Each DE set was done for doubles, and rest periods were 45 seconds between sets, this was enough time to do a set, his set and back again. The pace was fast.
All we did from one 3 week block to the next was either increase band or chain tension. We didn’t recalculate bar weight until after the restest period.
What about accessory work?
Well if you know even a little bit about accessory work, you would know that is geared towards what you need the most work on.
Triceps? Shoulders? Hamstrings? Quads? This is where a good coach comes in handy, or a very good knowledge of your own training.
If you can break down your lift effectively by video, you can point out weaknesses and shore them up with accessory work.
Building muscle, building strength, building the base in which you can move more weight.
One thing we didn’t slack on is back work and core work. No matter how advanced of a lifter you are, those two areas can never be strong enough. Never.
Download the template, check it out, buy the books I have linked earlier in the post and learn more about a system that has been utilized by thousands of lifters, athletes and gym rats with much success.
Like my own ebook I am selling, this one takes some brains.
And true to my code of writing quality info regardless if it costs me sales or not, if the conjugate method is your preference, by all means run with it. Not everyone has the patience to learn it and that’s ok. If you choose to learn as much as you can, buy the books, download my template and see how I worked it to benefit myself and my training partner and enjoy working with it.
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