Weight Lifting, Weight Training, Bench Press & Bodybuilding
February 27, 2024
Westside Barbell
By Ben Tatar

Over in Ohio there exists a gym. We aren't talking about a franchise fitness center here that looks nice where you can be comfortable and have your happy workout. We are talking about a real gym. You know a scary place but a place where scary lifting is encouraged. This is a gym by the name of "Westside Barbell", a club for serious powerlifters.

So you walk into the gym and who knows what you will find. Maybe you will find a stronger version of men who look like Adul the butcher that are squatting two Yokozuna heavy weight sumo wrestlers on their back! And make that a room of 53 members, can you believe it! At the Westside barbell club, they have had over 53 freaks of nature that have totaled elite and 27 members who have totaled 2,000 with growing statistics weekly. This gym is prestigious and it's like a different planet then all the other gyms. Not because it looks special or anything but because it's a place where strong men become larger than life, where heavy weights become scary weights, and where your dark monster turns golden, because victory is on your way! Beware when you enter this gym! The weights will stare at you giving you no other choice than to growl right back at the weights. Westside is a gym with so much attitude, so much intensity, with so many freaks that look like they are from another world that you will have no other choice but be ready for a weight lifting war, a personal war against yourself, to beat your personal records.

Some lifters don't want to enter this gym. Why you might ask? Lou Simmons is a manipulator, an authoritarian, and you will have to do what Louie wants you to do. If you slack off, he will throw you out. If you come a few minutes late he will kick you out and Simmons totally monitors the training of his clients. Westside doesn't just accept the genetically gifted, but they accept the lifters who display a great deal of will power. These are the lifters that can gain from the Westside. The mentally weak will not survive at a club like Westside. If you are the type that walks around who judges the chicks, how big other guys are, how pretty others are, and how similar or different you are to others then Westside is not the place for you. Getting stronger has very little to do with an insecure animus phenomenon where lifters are looking to be socially accepted among men and women, rather Westside is a place to become the strongest man that you can be. And at Westside it doesn't matter how handsome, smart and rich you are. All that matters is that you love the feel of the chalk, the iron, the attitude and most of all to lift the drive to "LIFT MORE WEIGHTS"!

Westside Barbell


The first thing that the Russians teach many of their lifters is that bodybuilding has ruined effective strength training in America and to stop reading bodybuilding magazines today. They will teach you that bodybuilding magazines brain wash lifters. To prove my point, many bodybuilders want answers to questions like which kind of protein and creatine has been scientifically tested to work the best. What is the best time of the day to do cardio, and what is the new "magic" training system? None of these questions will make a lifter stronger. For bodybuilding, well maybe they work to some extent but they are basically just concepts to chew on. You don't need a physiology degree to get strong. Many methods that bodybuilding magazines teach will give you so much information that you'll never need to know. Westside, like the Russians teaches American's to go back down to the basics of what they really need to become stronger. So, unlike bodybuilding that has a goal in mind to train muscular hypertrophy (the muscles). The Westside focuses on the CNS, the central nervous system. The central nervous system is the portion of the vertebrate nervous system consisting of the brain and spinal cord. A bodybuilder doesn't really train his nervous system. If you ever see a bodybuilder who competes in powerlifting, he is hardly ever as strong as he looks. Why you might ask? Because he only trains hypertrophy (the muscles) and he hasn't worked his central nervous system. This makes him all show and very little go. Now let's discuss how Simmons teaches his clients to train their central nervous system....


So, Lou starts off by teaching his clients the Soviet Training principles. Soviet Principles are broken down into two basic methods. On day 1 there is a speed day and 72 hours later there is a maximum effort day. During speed days the lifters will move lighter weights very fast on the bench press. Usually the lifter will perform 8 sets of 3 repetitions on the bench with 30 seconds between sets, alternating their grips. These sets should take 3 seconds to perform and if the sets take longer than 3 seconds then the weight is too heavy. The point of speed days is if you are faster you are stronger. So anytime a lifter does the speed days, they should be using 40-55% of their one rep max as a general rule.

Westside Barbell Club


For leg speed days the Westside performs 10 sets of 2 reps with rest consisting of less than 1 minute between sets. Then 72 hours after speed days, Westside has a maximum effort day. The point of the maximum effort day is to perform a single that takes 3 seconds to perform. The point of having maximum effort exercises is to increase the motor unit recruiting, and motor unit synchronization for neuromuscular coordination. This will make the lifter stronger. Westside also believes in never resting over 5 minutes between heavy sets on ME Day. This is so all the new fibers continue to work. Also on maximum effort legs day, Westside incorporates Squat days and deadlifts all on the same day. This is because they are similar movements that develop the posterior chain, which are the hams, glues and lower back. The squatting motion isn't much different than the deadlift. The difference is in the deadlift you are holding the weight in your hands and when you are squatting the weight is on your back.


west side barbell In Russian philosophies some principles remain the same. For example if you have "strong hands and strong abs", then you will be strong. This remains true, however, Westside can't be thought of as a training program because it has as many programs as there are lifters that use the system. What works for one lifter will not work for another. So, Westside is rather a template to improve a lifter's weak point. Usually weak points are weaker muscles that are preventing the lifter from going to the next level. Normally lifters cannot find their weak points or they are too ashamed to train them. When the lifter finds what is weak, he can make them stronger and once these weak links become embraced into strength, then they give the lifter power, taking them to the next level.


Weaknesses can go beyond just muscles in general. Sometimes weak links can be psychological and mental problems. The problem that so many lifters have is that they are always too busy fighting with their weak links, shadows and doubt, rather than just inviting its potential teachings to make them stronger. I believe that resistance and remaining in a comfort zone is the greatest weak link of all because then you can embrace them into strengths. However, an interesting thing about weak links is that many other lifters can find yours before you see them in yourself and you can also learn about your weak links by watching others struggle as the same point as you do when performing a particular exercise. Once you discover your weak links whether it is by your mistakes or through others, then you can keep getting stronger and stronger.


We always have to keep in mind that one of the most important elements of training is about knowing ourselves and knowing what we need. Generally speaking, a beginner can never train with the volume that an advanced lifter can that is juiced to the gills. So many beginners will go onto training systems like Joe Average which is a modified version of Westside that isn't as high in volume. Of course many of the more advanced Westside lifters can train with larger amounts of volume.

Before the beginner even attempts Westside it can be beneficial that they develop joint flexibility, and work on their abs and lower back. By improving muscle imbalances will help them when they hop on the Westside bandwagon later on. The beginner also needs a balance between pushing and pulling movements; one should not dominate the other. Finally the beginner should start with 2 sets of 8-10 before getting into the hardcore systems that we discussed earlier. The best advice for the beginner is to "stay basic" and not get too flashy. Once basic hardcore training and periodization has given the beginner a solid base of strength, than the Russian techniques can be applied.

Now that we have introduced you to the Westside Barbell Club and Soviet Philosophies, let's introduce you to a Westside routine. This routine is from Powerlifting guru, strongman, athlete, bodybuilder and all around great guy Mike Witmer.

Louie Simmons Coaches His Lifters


Saturday Max Effort day- Choose from one exercise: 2board, 3 board, floor press. Work up to a failure at a triple. Use bands for 3 weeks, and then switch to chains. Once I have done all the chosen exercises, I start the rotation over. After Max effort I would do either 4 board, close grips, or 5 board close grips, for triples. Then choose 2 exercises to finish with, switch these every 4 weeks- JM presses, close grip bench, skull crushers, triceps extensions, press downs, and dumbbell triceps.

Tuesday, speed day: 9 sets of 3 w/40% of 1 rm. using mini bands. Then I do very light flys, very light triceps work, lateral raises, and face pulls. If you're not peaking for a meet, you need to cycle this in for 9 weeks. Then for 6 weeks train like a bodybuilder!

"Remember train 6 weeks like a bodybuilder to prevent overtraining".

Westside has done wonders for Mike Witmer, as it has done wonders for many other lifters around the world. Day 1 being your Max Effort Squat/Deadlift. Day 2 being your Max Effort Bench Press and Day 3 being for Dynamic effort Squat. Finally day 4 should be for your Dynamic Effort Bench.


Don't use a belt, so you work your abs and lower back. Trust me you don't want these muscles weak. Use bands on speed days and use chains on maximum effort days. I have heard different theories on this and I don't believe in just one. I was taught to use bands for 3 weeks and then switch to chains for 3 weeks, then take some weeks off for regular training. You have to see for yourself. Again, change is the key, as everything works and nothing works forever! .


Before maxing out take 4-8 days off to recover. Sit around, be lazy, and eat a ton! Finally, your preparation which means not skipping workouts, meals, going that extra mile and how well you mastered your mind will determine whether you hit the weight or not when the big day to max out comes.

After your testing day, learn from it and remember that each cycle that you attempt will teach you a lot about yourself. Your victories will show you victories as well as your losses for the next journey that you start. Don't let the downs hurt you because you know when you're an old wise man despite the outcome you will look back and be proud that you have given it your all. So keep a backwards perspective while you move forward.


So many members get stronger as soon as they join the Westside Barbell, I believe because they have the best lifters around them. These lifters are there r to push them to greater and greater levels. I also think that many of them learn how to use the shirt and improve their technique. Finally, they are now on a system that makes weaker muscles stronger. I think with all these factors interacting, a lifter has no other choice but to get stronger.


In weight lifting lifters need goals for motivation and they need a goal that they can work their way up to! So as they work their way up to their goals they find other buddies who share the exact same interest, this turns training more then just training, but this turns training into a passion. The other great thing about being apart of a system like the Westside is that you can meet people who share the same interest as you. Also training in an environment that supports excellence is an environment that cannot be topped.

It seems that the Russian systems are getting popular all across America day by day. They now have the Eastside Barbell. If you go to some of the gyms in NJ they use the soviet methods as part of their "religion" as well as their training. If you go to other gyms you might experience a very different motto. A motto that says, "Welcome to hell it's time to kill some weights". Regardless, Westside principles are becoming more and more popular and they are spreading around America by the minute.


In fact many lifters and groupies are taking the "Westside techniques" and creating their own systems out of them. Look at the Metal Militia; since the gear is advancing all the time they have started their own systems to master technique and to get the most out of the shirt. For example with technique, they start with their elbows out, as they bring the barbell down an inch they start turning their elbows in more and more, while expanding their stomachs with air. As they lift the weight up to lockout as they press off the balls of their feet and at 75% of the way up they turn their elbows out. The reason for this is if you step under a power rack to perform a rack lockout you will discover you can finish more with your elbows out. However, when you are benching off of your chest you need to keep your elbows in and go off your upper abs to use your arms and triceps. By using the Metal Militia techniques and with the advancements in gear we have seen a bench press over 1000lbs take place and of course Gene Rychlak discovered what method worked for him out of these Russian principles. He now has created the Rychlak "Power systems" that has worked for him. Now it's up for you to find the bench press systems that will work for you. So right now do yourself a favor and say your last name, now say power systems! Did you do that? Good now let this system take you as far as you can go! Who knows if you keep making modifications while you are on your system, then maybe your system will take you to a new world record.


The Westside Barbell is a club and they have introduced Russian techniques to Americans. Westside is discovering new equipment frequently so more lifters can use more methods to make weaker muscles stronger and more approaches for more lifters needs. What gives Westside so much prestige is that they support excellence. Now that the "Russian" methods are becoming more popular in America, we are seeing stronger and stronger lifters all the time. Give some of these principles a try. The chances are they will be your guides for new super hero strength.


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