THE JOURNEY (Part Four)

Posted by Louie Simmons on

Their deadlift training was just as advanced with the partial deadlifts in a power rack. (While the old Westside mostly used one position, the new Westside uses three to break records on.) They did not stop there. They used a touch system much like the bodybuilders used.

A bodybuilder would get assistance by having a training partner place their hands on the barbell for squats, bench or curls. Bill West asked why not use it on the deadlift? First, he would use his hands on the bar to give some help while doing a squat clean. West would then slap the glutes to signal the concentric phase. It worked to a degree for the deadlift, but he found a much better way. For most the sticking point for the lower back is at the knees. This is where the bar is farthest from the joint.

West found a lifter could deadlift more by placing a hand on the sternum and pulling back to keep the chest up while placing the other hand on the sacrum and pushing forward to keep the correct posture. When doing a high partial deadlift he would place both hands on the traps and pull backward somewhat to help extend the deadlift to completion.

Now days the Columbus Westside uses chair deadlifts to track perfect position. First, one will sit on a chair or box; most use a sumo style, but a conventional style can be used as well. Start by sitting on a chair with a wide stance and heels at a forward angle. Next, pull the bar toward the body. This will force the knees apart as the bar is lifted while sitting on the chair.

Then, sit back as far as possible while arching the back and pushing the pelvis toward the bar. Pause for a count of two; then, stand up. If done correctly, the glutes will come toward the bar for the greatest possible leverage. We all know when the butt flies up to the rear you miss the lift. The author looked at the touch system and applied it to the chair system with great success.

That covers two lifts, but what about the bench? Pat Casey was the first 600-pound bencher. Of course, Culver City Westside used power rack benches and inclines, very heavy dips and dumbbell presses up to 220 pounds—always some partials and full range work was done.

He used seated presses and raises, front, side and rear. Shrugs played a large role as well as hand-stand pushups. This was much like his predecessor from the east coast, Jim Williams. In 1967 Pat made a 617-pound bench and Jim ran that up to 675 at Worlds in 1971. Jim was the largest muscular man I ever saw in 1971 at the Junior National in Patterson, New Jersey.

His program was very heavy bodybuilding for a large part of his training. Front raises with a 100-pound plate become known as Williams’ raises and also Williams’ extensions with the elbows out to the sides. After the author had his arm bared severely and could not hold a bar at lockout, I started doing the elbows out extensions and Dave Tate, a Westsider, wrote about them.

They became Tate presses after that. However, big Jim made them famous in the 1970s. Jim worked bench five times a week on a system that used only 21 reps starting at 315 and going over 600 pounds each workout. He was able to do this from the high volume of heavy bodybuilding exercises. Lots of heavy raises including triceps and biceps work. Jim Williams was one of the greatest.

 

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