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How to Learn the Westside Barbell Routine

by
author image Grey Evans
Grey Evans began writing professionally in 1985. Her work has been published in "Metabolics" and the "Journal of Nutrition." Gibbs holds a Ph.D. in nutrition from Ohio State University and an M.S. in physical therapy from New York University. She has worked at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and currently develops comprehensive nutritional and rehabilitative programs for a neurological team.
How to Learn the Westside Barbell Routine
The bench press is one of three lifts the Westside program develops. Photo Credit IT Stock/Polka Dot/Getty Images

The Westside barbell routine focuses on both dynamic and maximal effort squat and bench press workouts, in addition to improving your deadlift. This type of routine requires a good working knowledge of exercise technique, theory and application, including how to properly apply exercises to compensate for specific weaknesses in technique. Not a novice routine, the Westside program involves using special exercises to develop special strengths, and constant work with extremely heavy weights to develop motor skills.

Dynamic Effort Bench Press

Step 1

Bench using no more than 65 percent of your single-repetition maximum on this day. Perform between eight to 10 sets of three repetitions. Keep your feet on the floor and your head, shoulders and hips flat on the bench. Your goal on this day is to generate maximal force, so after the bar touches your chest, accelerate the bar to full extension as quickly as possible.

Step 2

Train your triceps heavily. According to a 1995 study published in the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research," your triceps are the most active muscle in the bench press. Four to six sets of 10 repetitions of dumbbell or barbell extensions done lying on flat bench will promote triceps size and strength.

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Step 3

Work your shoulders and back. Heavy rows for three to five sets of eight to 10 repetitions will work your back, and you can use either a barbell or dumbbell. Bent lateral raises and face pulls will work the back of your shoulders and you can use a similar set and rep scheme. Both exercises provide stability for your shoulders and torso while benching.

Maximal Effort Bench Press

Step 1

Strain using at least 90 percent of what you can lift for a single repetition for at least three repetitions on this day. Select an exercise similar to the flat bench press, such as the incline bench press, close-grip bench press or floor press. Rotate the exercise you are using every three weeks. Your goal on this day is to strain under very heavy weights, and you cannot continually strain at the same exercise and make progress. This workout should follow your dynamic effort bench press day by 72 hours.

Step 2

Train your triceps heavily. If you are not using the close-grip bench press or floor press as a maximal effort exercise, use one of them as your next exercise. Three to five sets of three to five repetitions should be performed.

Step 3

Exercise your shoulders and back in the same manner as you did on your dynamic effort bench press day. If you are shaky while bench pressing, extra biceps and forearm work can be done this day. Three to five sets of 10 to 12 repetitions of hammer curls or reverse curls can follow the rest of your work.

Dynamic Effort Squat

Step 1

Squat until your hips are below the level of your knees. Squat for two sets of eight to 12 repetitions. On the way up, try to accelerate the bar as much as you can, generating maximal force. Squat using no more than 65 percent of your single-repetition maximum of the barbell squat.

Step 2

Perform heavy assistance work such as good mornings or some type of deadlift. Perform three sets of five to eight repetitions of the exercise you select. Follow this with glute-ham raises and reverse hypers, performing three to five sets of eight to 15 repetitions per set.

Step 3

Work your abdominals heavily. Weighted situps or crunches can be performed for three to five sets of 10 to 15 repetitions per set. Alternatively, heavy oblique work such as side bends can be performed, where you hold a dumbbell in one hand and lean to one side. Use the same set and rep scheme for oblique work.

Maximal Effort Squat/Deadlift Day

Step 1

Exert maximal effort on a squat or deadlift-type movement 72 hours after your dynamic effort squat day. Squats to a low box, front squats, some type of deadlift or good mornings are possible choices. Use at least 90 percent of your one-repetition maximum for at least three repetitions. If you need to perform three single repetitions, do so.

Step 2

Perform assistance exercises in a similar manner to your dynamic effort squat workout. Ensure that the exercise that follows your maximal effort exercise is a polar opposite of the previous exercise. Do not follow a squat with another type of squat nor follow a deadlift with another type of deadlift. Work heavier on this exercise -- even if it is a good morning or low box squat, perform three to five sets of three to five repetitions.

Step 3

Perform glute-ham raises and reverse hyperextensions again. Perform glute-ham raises for three to five sets of eight to 10 repetitions. Perform reverse hyperextensions for three to five sets of 15 to 20 repetitions. The higher repetitions of reverse hyperextensions are to undo some of the spinal compression that you subject yourself to on this day.

Step 4

Train your abdominals or obliques at the end of your workout. Select a different exercise than you did on your dynamic effort squat workout. Russian twists can also help undo spinal compression, and require only a dumbbell and a situp bench. Sit on the bench with your feet hooked around the supports and hold a dumbbell in your hands. Lean back until your torso is parallel to the ground, and then rotate from one side to the other. Perform three to five sets of 15 to 20 repetitions per set.

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