Westside Barbell- The Strongest Gym In The World


Posted on October 13 2016

Hello Westside Fans.

This article is for our Olympic Weightlifting enthusiast. It is a sample of a 3 week pendulum wave for the squat, snatch and clean & jerk. This program is one that Westside performs each and every week. It uses the guidelines laid out by A.S. Medvedyev in his book “A System of Multi-Year Training in Weightlifting”. As well the data of A.S. Prilepin as it appears in the “Managing the Training of Weightlifters”. Prilepin was the Russian national coach for the Junior team from 1975-80 and Senior coach from 1980-85.

Our wave periodization came from A.D. Ermakov found in “Supertraining”. A.D. Ermakov’s research in “Managing the Training of Weightlifters” of 780 highly skilled weightlifters showed that 50% of their training was between 75 and 85%. Westside used their data to provide the correct amount of volume in the most advantageous intensity zones. This programming allowed lifters at Westside to break over 100 all time world records. Anyone and everyone should be able to follow this program year in year out. The reason is the program is designed off of your maximum not someone else’s.

Weightlifters have to raise not only the snatch and clean & jerk, but also the squat. First I will layout the squat program for speed strength. Later a 3 week wave for the snatch and clean & jerk. Then 3 or 4 special exercises for the back and leg muscles. We recommend 4 large workouts a week with 2 for speed strength and 2 for max effort.

The squat wave (use a box):

500 Squat Max

Week Percent Weight Sets Reps Lifts Total Volume
1 75 375 12 2 24 9,000
2 80 400 12 2 24 9,600
3 85 425 10 2 20 8,500

(Squat on a box 2 to 3” Below Parallel, On week 4 start front squat)

400 Front Squat Max

Week Percent Weight Sets Reps Lifts Total Volume
1 75 300 12 2 24 7,200
2 80 320 12 2 24 7,680
3 85 340 10 2 24 6,800

 (Squat to a box)


The Olympic lifts wave:

350 Clean & Jerk Max

Week Percent Weight Sets Reps Lifts Total Volume
1 75 265 6 3 18 4,770
2 80 280 6 3 18 5,040
3 85 300 5 3 15 4,500

(This should be used for multiple variations such as below knee, above knee, power, deficit, split)


300 Snatch Max

Week Percent Weight Sets Reps Lifts Total Volume
1 75 225 6 3 18 4,050
2 80 240 6 3 18 4,320
3 85 255 5 3 15 3,825

(This should be used for multiple variations such as below knee, above knee, power, deficit, split)


One can implement the overhead squat with the same percentages provided above. Immediately after the squats you must perform 15-18 cleans of some type in power, hang or classical style. Then after a short warmup do 15-18 snatches of some type in power, hang or classical. Accordingly by Prilepin’s charts 15 lifts at 70% range is slightly below the optimal and 15 lifts at 80%is exactly the optimal amount of lifts. This is for a qualified weightlifter.

The data  by A.D. Ermakov and N.S. Atanasov showed 85% weights are done most. 22.9% in the snatch and 18.4% for the clean. On the contrary 70% weights are used by top weightlifters 11.7% for the snatch and only 8.18% for the clean & jerk. You must use the correct percentages to increase your total. 50% of the training was between 75 and 85%. This is how the Russians trained and of course Westside for the past 34 years.

For one to excel at weightlifting the volume must constantly raise year after year, along with the average intensity, meaning a percent of a one repetition maximal. There are many things to consider like gaining weight. Naim Suleymanoglu made constant improvements in the total as he gained bodyweight. At 52kg in 1982 he made 250kg. At 56kg in 1983 he made 290kg. At 60kg from 1984-88 he improved to 342.2kg.

According to the data of Ermakov and Atanasov more than 50% of training came from special exercises. The most common weights for pulls was 95-100%, and A.S. Medvedyev said that strength is the key to progress. If you look at the training of Naim in 1980, in a weekly plan, 147 lifts were special exercises and 105 were classical. This information was taken from Naim Suleymanoglu, The Pocket Hercules.

After the speed strength exercises select an average of 3 special exercises. Good mornings with legs straight and back arched or rounded, next back raises and then calf ham glute raises as an example. While the program requires little special equipment it is advisable to use specialized equipment like te Russians did. This would be belt squats, plyo swing and inverse curls. These make a great difference.

Drugs is always an issue, what do drugs do? They make it possible to recover from heavy weight training for one thing. So if you do not take drugs you must find a superior method of weight training and this is what I am trying to provide. 

Let’s look at Max Effort day.

Maximal Effort method is simply stated as overcoming the largest external resistance one is capable of. This elicits a strong and potent neurological and physiological effect on the body that contributes the greatest improvements in absolute strength. That is why it is superior to all other training methods. It is necessary to be utilizing this method frequently in the training system, and with a vast array of variability. Weightlifters must expose their weak points using this method and rebuild the weakest components of the competitive lifts; i.e. clean and jerk and snatch. The intent is to provide larger strength reserves to increase the likelihood of success, and reductions in total anaerobic fatigue in a competitive setting. Practice of the method is not to have the intent of technical proficiency (which is worked separately), but rather the largest physiological/neurological response to an external load or movement which results in the system’s enhancement.

The movements are complex and have various factors affecting the success of the competitive execution of strenuous weights. The clean is composed of a pull and a squat. Therefore, it is easily comprehendible to evaluate where one is lagging in the movement, from a strength perspective. If the sportsmen are only capable of a 400 front squat and have the desire to clean 440 it is essential to build the squat drastically. Logically there is a far greater chance of an athlete who can front squat 500 to clean 440 than the lesser sportsmen who can only stand up with 400. The same goes for the pull. Weightlifting is a pulling sport. The necessity to possess immense levels in strength for all forms of pulling movements from clean grip deadlifts, rack pulls, deficit deadlifts, straight leg, sumo deadlifts, and round back deadlifts finishing with an arched back are fundamentally needed for massive competitive weights to be raised. Viewing several model sportsmen it is seen that all can easily deadlift 440 and most can achieve loads greater than 660 to low 700s for the strongest. Being as we are aiming for the international improvement of the country as a whole, and no longer focused on intra-national performance these are the levels of strength in these exercises we must be viewing as foundational.

The snatch is a complex movement, but just as the previous is quite dependent on peculiarities of absolute strength (assuming one can execute the movement efficiently). The snatch is composed of a wide grip deadlift, a high pull, and an overhead squat. Two of the three strength factors rely heavily on the strength of the upper back musculature. Exercises to maximize the building of absolute strength for these areas include (from behind the neck) snatch grip press, narrow grip press, snatch push press, snatch push press to overhead squat, narrow grip overhead squat, overhead squat to a box, dead-stop overhead squats out of a power rack, high pulls to various heights (allowing the barbell to hit a dowel at a predetermined height), snatch support, bench pressing (especially incline) and seated press. The pulling component can be strengthened with the use any of the previous exercises used for the clean pull, however incorporate a wide grip. Deficit deadlifts with the wide grip using a low hip or straight leg position work incredibly well for building the leg strength for the initial phases of the lift. Due to postural nature of the snatch it is needed to have high levels of spinal stabilizational strength in the low back and abdominals when the barbell is at the knees. Many straight leg, with the torso over the barbell, pulls to maximal weights will improve this area of the competitive lift.

The jerk is highly dependent on the thrust phase of the lift. This is the moment where the athlete has switched instantaneously from yielding (eccentric component) to the entirety of the overcoming “thrust” phase, pushing the barbell to a maximal height with the legs. This is determined by the work of the lower extremity, similar to the “explosion” mechanism in the snatch and clean. This work is only improved when the maximal strength of the squat is improved. Therefore, the jerk can be increased by several means including box squatting, dead-stop pin squats, pause jerks (in a position lower than the bottom position of the dip to increase the working effect of the lower extremities), dead-stop pin jerks and high box squat push jerks.

The classical exercises must be tested as well, but it is essential to have numerous special snatches, cleans and jerks as well for maximal effort execution. Snatch exercises include the classical snatch, classical snatch with straight leg + torso leaned over, classical snatch from deficit, power snatch from a high box position, power snatch with legs straight, narrow grip classical snatch, muscle snatch from deficit and split snatch. All of the previous can be used with two forms of training means; straight bar weight and the second with bar weight and bands. Clean exercises include classical clean, classical clean with barbell above the knees, straight leg muscle clean, power clean from high boxes or power rack, power clean from below the knee, split clean and slow pull classical clean. All of the previous can be used with two forms of training means; straight bar weight and the second bar weight and bands. To stress the understanding of the exercises listed, they will provide the largest increases in the absolute strength of the clean and snatch when trained to a 1 repetition max using the maximal effort method. This exercise list is brief, including the squatting plus pulling movements, and one must continuously create new exercises to change the external stimulus or read literature that has already provided the exercises that have been shown to work best.

Continuing the application of this method it should be stated that one can also apply maximal effort method to the small exercises as well. It can be used on 100s of rowing exercises (machines or barbells), belt squatting applications, sled pulls, wheelbarrow carries, back raises, inverse curls, hyperextensions and isometrics. Working all small exercises to their “limit strength” (which is the maximal load and stimulation a sportsman can provide in the small exercise) will help increase the absolute strength of the smaller musculature, along with postural strength, aiding in an improvement in technical mastery.

Table 1. is an example of several real maximal effort workouts with the inclusion of the small assistance exercises that have been applied:

Table 1.


Exercise Name Weight Sets Reps Total # of Lifts Volume
1rm Clean 350   1 3 940
1rm Deficit Leg Str. Cl. Grip DL + Shrug 620   1 4 3,115
Belt Squat Clean Grip Deadlift 225 2 1min 45 10,125
Deadlift Floor Shrugs + Mini 225 4 5 20 4,500
Inverse Curl (Lightest Wt Possible) -35 6 5 30
1rm Isometric Bent Pendulum Reverse Hyper 100 4 10sec 4





Exercise Name Weight Sets Reps Total # of Lifts Volume
1RM Zercher Squat 515 1 3 1,355
Zercher Low Pin Power Rack Squats 335 5 5 25 8,375
Good Morning Machine + Green Band 135 6 8 48 6,480
Belt Squat Neck Harness Good Morning 40 5 12 60 2,400
Inverse Curl (Lightest Wt Possible) -25 6 4 24
Plyo Swing 270 1 100 100 27,000
Bent Pendulum Reverse Hyper 50 3 10 30 1,500


Exercise Name Weight Sets Reps Total # of Lifts Volume
1RM Str. Leg, Torso Leaned Over, Snatch Deadlift Pin 2 520 1 3 1,380
Hoffman Method Rack Pulls (isometric) 405 6 5 30 12,150
Belt Squat + Light Band, Power Cleans(heavy) 195 5 3 15 2,925
1RM Isometric Seated Row + Mini Band 680(total) 5 10sec 50sec
Wide Grip Seated Rows 400 6 6 36 14,400
Lat Pulldowns 160 4 12 48 7,680
Bent Pendulum Reverse Hyper 50 2 20 40 2,000



You must rotate a special pull or squat each ME workout. Pick many,  up to 20, special exercises then choose 4 to 8 that work best for you. Everyone does not respond to the same exercises the same way. This is why the lifter must help in choosing the most beneficial ones.

Medvedyev made 100 workouts for a weightlifter. Provided below is a list  from him to choose from. Only 2 are the classic snatch and clean & jerk. These two lifts should be used only at contest or 21 days out from a meet.

Pulling snatch exercises:

  1. Power snatch, pull starts at knee.
  2. Power snatch, leg straight, torso leaning over.
  3. Snatch pull followed by classic snatch.
  4. Snatch starting with bar above knee.
  5. Snatch starting with bar at knee.
  6. Power snatch followed by overhead squat.
  7. Snatch pull up to knee.
  8. Snatch pull up to predetermined pin height.

Clean & Jerk exercises:

  1. Power clean from floor.
  2. Clean & jerk starting with bar at knee.
  3. Clean pull slow first with a fast second pull.
  4. Clean pull to knee, followed by full clean.
  5. Clean pull, followed by full clean.
  6. Power clean, squat, jerk.
  7. Clean pull until legs are straight.
  8. Clean pull standing on box.

Jerk exercises:

  1. Jerk from behind head.
  2. Push jerk after power clean.
  3. Jerk from rack.
  4. Front squat followed by jerk.
  5. Squat, followed by jerk behind head.
  6. Power clean, push jerk, overhead squat.
  7. Power clean, squat, jerk.
  8. Power clean wide grip, followed by wide grip jerk.


(sample of Medvedyev special exercises for classical lifts)

Squat maxes must be done in front and back style on many boxes. 18 to 8” will give many different special squat maxes. One can also do concentric squats, off pins from a power rack, from a very low to ¼ squat. This was used by the Polish Olympic team and can be seen in their films. Here you must use perfect form. Overhead squats can also be used in a similar fashion, using wide grips or clean grips from a low position. All of this will help avoid accommodation and help weightlifting.

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