Basic Conjugate Training Advice VI

Basic Conjugate Training Advice VI

The Conjugate Method opens up a whole new world of possibilities for athletes. Whether an athlete seeks to improve absolute strength, explosive power, speed, or conditioning, the Conjugate Method will deliver. However, a coach or athlete's success with the Conjugate Method will always depend on their overall understanding of strength training theory and application.

Understand that the Conjugate Method is a complex training system that utilizes multiple strength training methods to develop a complete athlete. Unlike the linear-based training programs many use today, the Conjugate Method efficiently trains athletes without issues regarding detraining or loss of skill. This is why the Conjugate Method is not only the premier choice for strength athletes but also the best training method for conventional sports athletes.

Attaining a complete understanding of our training methods can take time. However, once the knowledge has been acquired, a coach or athlete will reach the next levels of training knowledge and physical performance. At Westside Barbell, we aim to help individuals further develop their understanding of the Conjugate Method and elevate human athletic performance.

Below, we will cover a few pieces of advice that will provide insight into our training style and help individuals new to our methods avoid mistakes and pitfalls.

Dumbbells for Athletes

One issue many athletes encounter when beginning to utilize a strength-focused training method is shoulder discomfort and pain. This is often caused by frequently using a barbell to press from the chest or overhead. Alleviating this issue is rather simple: substitute dumbbells for pressing movements.

Are we saying athletes should avoid barbell pressing altogether? Of course not. However, dumbbell pressing can be an excellent option for athletes whose sport is already taxing the shoulder joints to solve pain-related issues and keep training productive. When pressing with a barbell, the shoulders are more fixed, while the dumbbells allow the shoulder joints to move more naturally.

For athletes such as MMA fighters or grapplers, using dumbbells will help solve issues related to pain and help increase shoulder stability. Additionally, an athlete's press technique can be manipulated to a higher degree with dumbbells, ensuring the pecs and shoulders are better protected each rep.

Considering conventional sports athletes are not concerned with developing the world's strongest bench or overhead press, we can use dumbbells to provide similar training effects while lowering the risk of injury. Athletes can use dumbbells for max, dynamic, or repeated effort training. As long as the training facility has dumbbells that are heavy enough to train at the correct intensity levels, there is no issue with using dumbbells in place of a barbell during press exercises.

Ideally, coaches will find a healthy mix of barbell and dumbbell pressing exercises to deliver meaningful stimulus to their athletes while mitigating shoulder wear and tear. Shoulder joint health is critical for all athletes, so they must remain healthy and prepared for the demands of sport. An intelligent coach uses all tools at their disposal.

Avoid the Coach with a Negative Mindset

All strength and conditioning coaches should always remember to never judge an athlete based on their limitations. Too often, coaches, both in the gym and online, perpetuate ideas and advice based on their personal failures. While some coaches use their lack of success to validate their ability to coach, they also apply limitations to others based on their failures.

In the social media world, you often see these types making snide or passive-aggressive content intended to temper the expectations of others and bring the masses down to their level. How does a coach know an athlete's true trajectory? Should it not be the goal of the coach to build an athlete up to reach their full potential? At Westside, we understand that belief in self is a powerful thing, and if an athlete believes in their mind that they can become the best, the likelihood of success only improves.

While using personal experience to improve understanding of training theory and application is necessary, a coach should not apply their lack of ability or failures to the athletes they are training. Worse, many of these types find themselves going the influencer route, further spreading their poisonous mindset.

It is better for an athlete to have a nearly unreasonable belief in self than a despondent mindset. It's better to try like hell and come up short than to say, "Well, I can't do that" and guarantee failure. Having a can-do mindset without predetermined limitations or expectations will lead to far better training outcomes.

How does a coach know an athlete can't become one of the best to ever compete in their sport? There are countless stories, both in strength and conventional sports, of underdog-type athletes becoming dominant at the highest levels of sport. At Westside, we believe in empowering our athletes mentally and physically.

Again, we say that as a coach, you should never judge an athlete based on your limitations.

Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery days are among the most critical aspects of any strength and conditioning program. Arguably, how dedicated an athlete is to ensuring proper rest and recovery are attained is as important as the dedication an athlete displays to their training in the gym. If an athlete is training with appropriate intent, there is no doubt the athlete requires rest.

Unfortunately, many athletes believe increased training frequency will improve their athletic performance. However, as anyone with a basic understanding of strength and conditioning training knows, this is not the case. No matter how genetically gifted an athlete may be, rest and recovery are always necessary.

At Westside, our strength athletes train four days per week, and our conventional sports athletes typically train three days per week. When in the gym, we get the most out of our training time by training at optimal levels of volume and intensity, executed with proper intent. Athletes will look forward to their rest time if training is performed correctly.

If you feel you need to train six or seven days per week, it is important to take a step back and evaluate your understanding of the training process. Progress is impossible if rest and recovery are not prioritized.

Proper rest and recovery mean an athlete takes the day off from barbell training and focuses on meeting their caloric, hydration, and sleep goals. Considering a rest day is typically not that busy, it can be the perfect time for an athlete to get an extra nap to aid recovery. Should an athlete pull a sled around the cul-de-sac or run a few miles? No, the athlete should rest to prepare for the next training day.

If time spent training is to be successful, rest and recovery must be prioritized. Failing to do so will only make training unsustainable, and it is only a matter of time before excess fatigue or injury disrupts the training process. No athlete has the genetic ability to properly train six or seven days per week and maintain optimal recovery levels between workouts.

If you are training more than five days per week, we recommend evaluating your approach.

Staying on the Path to Success

In the modern world of strength and conditioning, there are many ways a coach or athlete can stray from the path that will lead them to success. Social media has offered a new avenue for the hucksters and frauds of the world to attempt to lure a coach or athlete away from the successful path. The fitness world has always attracted these types, and now they can reach you directly on a daily basis.

This is why all serious coaches and athletes need to read and further develop their understanding of the science of strength and conditioning. Once the foundational ideas and principles of strength and conditioning training are understood, spotting and avoiding the BS is easy.

Whether you choose to use the Conjugate Method or any other training method, we encourage all coaches and athletes to dedicate themselves to sharpening their understanding of strength training theory and application each day.

By focusing on the work in the gym and seeking higher levels of knowledge, a coach or athlete will sharpen their understanding of the training process and overall skillset. This will lead to improved success in both sport and business and create lifelong success in strength and conditioning. It may not be the quickest path to fame and notoriety, but it is the true path to success.


Simmons, L. (2007). Westside Barbell Book of Methods. Westside Barbell.

Verkhoshansky, Y., & Siff, M. C. (2009). Supertraining. Verkhoshansky.

Zatsiorsky, V. M., & Kraemer, W. J. (2006). Science and Practice of Strength Training. Human Kinetics

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