Many ask, how does Westside train for a raw contest? The answer is simple, the same. Remember our system is based on physics, mathematics, and bio mechanics. The author trained ten years without a squat suit and fourteen years without a bench shirt. Yet, I was top ten with and without gear and you can be too.
Most raw lifters use old fashion methods. One is western periodization, where one starts out with high reps (ex. 10 reps) and as the cycle goes week by week the reps become less and less until you are doing 1-3 reps a set. What’s wrong with this thinking? The high reps build muscle mass, but has little other value. Due to the light weights, you don’t produce hi force. As the reps go down you lose the muscle mass that you gained in the early stages of training. Now, by accident you build high force in the second phase or block. Now the close to contest phase is initiated, but with not enough volume to secure a hypothetical max, making it difficult to make an all-time record on meet day. Also, with the volume smaller and smaller it can lead to injuries.
After the meet they start over by doing the same thing, hoping to get different results, that my friend is the definition of insanity. The Westside system calls for a 3 week wave for squatting and benching. It is based on your contest max. A max is a max, gear or no gear, man or woman, young or old. Burley trained at 50%, 55% and 60% for 12 x 2 week 1, 12 x 2 week 2 and 10 x 2 on week 3, with 25% band tension at lockout you build speed strength. Burley Hawk used 470-520 and 540 for a 3 week wave. He makes a 900lb squat very explosively, it’s the same wave a 900lb geared squatter uses at Westside. This is 10,800lbs of squats plus 3,200lbs of speed pulls with 220lbs of band tension at lockout. This added up to 14,000lbs on speed day or Friday. With the barbell, this represents 20% of our training and 80% is small special exercises, Reverse Hypers 40,000lbs, Plyo Pushes (Leg Press) 50,000lbs plus inverse curls, shrugs, abs, etc.
Max Effort Training
Each week max out on a rack pull with just weight or add 250lbs or 350lbs of band tension. Other lifts would be to stand on a 2 inch box or on plates with 220lbs or 280lbs of band tension and do sumo or conventional style, low box squat with specialty bars, one rack pull of some kind and one pull with plates on mats or standing on mats per month. The third max effort is a low box squat or a good morning. Almost always we have a deload workout, this means no barbell lift, only small exercises, for recovery. This is low volume, max intensity, the reverse of a speed day of high bar volume, moderate intensity.
Speed Bench Press
On speed day we use 40% of a one rep max with roughly 85 – 125lbs of band tension or 80-120lbs of chains. 9 sets of 3 reps with close to moderate grip. The bar must be very, very explosive for a fast rate of force development. This day is also used for the development of technicality, that’s 27 lifts that must be fast and perfect. Normally, after 3 weeks we either use a different bar, like a bow bar or a football bar and cambered bar with 2 ½, 3 ½ or 5 inch cambered. Remember, use 40% of a one rep max raw. So for Burley or any raw lifter, 40% is the weight to use on speed plus bands or chains. Two sets of dumbbells with a weight you can do 20 reps fairly easy for the two sets. Then triceps extensions with an EZ curl bar, a straight bar or dumbbell roll backs. The triceps are the most important muscles in the bench. We recommend about 60-75 reps in sets of 8-12 per set, but everyone is different, use our reps for a guideline only. Next is upper back and lat’s. This means a long list of exercises like lat pull downs, chest supported rows, low pulley rows, barbell rows, dumbbell rows, upright rows, the side delt work along with some rear delts. Don’t over-due front delt work, they can be over trained very easy, a w sets of hammer curls and that’s a workout.
Max Effort is the most productive day. It should be done 72hours after dynamic day. Westside’s speed bench day is Saturday and max effort day is on Wednesday. Pick a barbell core lift and max out, you must rotate each week. A random list would look like this…
- Rack Press on High Pin
- Floor Press
- Incline Press
- Board Press (1-2-3-4 or 5 boards)
Decline Press Rotate in no certain order, switch every week. All lifts can be used with at least two grips to break records with. After a max effort lift do similar special exercises for the triceps and upper back and lats.
Don’t forget the hammer curls and your raw bench should roll. Good Luck!