Geography 101

Geography 101

Travis Shaffer came to Westside from Seattle, Washington, to train and live after his training had reached a plateau. His top squat was 750 pounds. His bench was 570 pounds. He had a 1,920-pound total at 242 pounds.

It took only four months for him to total 2,075 pounds doing an 835-pound, 605-pound, and an opener 635-pound. Was it geography or a training system that was tailored to his needs? It was the system—the Westside system—using a three-week pendulum wave for his periodization model; the introduction of small special exercises through the conjugate system that controls volume, intensity, and constantly changing velocity of the barbell; and improved restoration methods.

First, let’s look at his squat and deadlift training.

In the past, the Westside protocol had been doing 12 sets of two reps for the first two weeks and 10 sets of two on week three to maintain the proper amount of volume to make it possible to raise your squat on meet day.

But, without change you fail due to being complacent. To raise Westside’s squat we now do five sets of five reps in speed strength workouts with the same percentages—50, 55, and 60 percent—in three-week pendulum waves.

The first goal was to use the correct percentages. For his 750-pound squat for the first three-week wave his training weights were 375, 415, and 450 pounds. After making rapid progress on the second wave, he used 400, 440, and 480 pounds. This was 50 to 60 percent of 800 pounds.

Again, his progress was fast and he moved on to use 850 pounds as the logical goal. For the rest of the waves he used 425, 465, and 510 pounds. The rest intervals were about 2½ minutes. At these weights, his speed was very good due to working on his lacking muscle groups.

After all speed strength squat workouts, the speed pulls were done with 330 pounds plus 30 percent band tension at lockout. Both sumo and conventional styles were rotated to cover all muscle groups.

By doing five sets of five reps, muscle tension was prolonged, but without weight gain. Also, the fifth rep was the same speed as the second rep that was previously used.

The same reasoning was used with the speed pulls—going from eight to 10 singles to five sets of four reps. All reps are pause on the floor. And the volume is doubled to increase your lifts and total, one must assess volume systematically.

By adding 10 speed pulls on Friday’s speed strength workout, it had no ill-effect on recovery going forward to max effort day 72 hours later on Monday.

Travis had never concerned himself with 80 percent of his training with small special exercises. By training with this in mind, Travis had brought his lacking muscle groups to equal strengths. Now no sore muscles caused by one muscle group doing more than its share.

The special exercises used were Goodmornings, all types of rowing, back raises, standing leg curls, reverse hypers, calf-ham-glute raises, athletic training platform, weight sled pulls, and heavy abs and side bends.

General Physical Preparation (GPP) is a key to lacking muscle groups and volume and improving recovery.

His GPP also consisted of walking with a wheelbarrow and doing two extra workouts for the squat and deadlifts. Lots of leg curls with ankle weights or banded leg curls, calf work, neck work, grip work, and always exercises counting side bends were included as well.

Bench workout

Travis needed more upper body muscle. Speed benching was replaced with an old bench program Bill Seno from Chicago put me onto in the early 1970’s. First, Travis did 6x6 reps with the weight going up each week until it became difficult. At that time, the weight was reduced and an 8x8 program began.

Again, weight went up week after week until no more progress could be made. The third leg of this program is 10x10 reps where after reducing the weight again and working up for a few weeks until once more, no progress can be made.

Now Travis goes back to 6x6 reps and the wave cycle goes on and on. After going back to the six reps, he exceeded what he did on the first cycle of six reps. This brought his bench up from 570 pounds to 605 pounds at the meet. After the bench sets are done, two or three sets of dumbbell presses are done for 15 or 20 reps. For each workout, the angle is changed.

Next, triceps are worked with as much work as possible on each day. Dumbbell roll backs or elbows out extensions are two of Travis’ favorites. Barbell extensions are done with many different bars: E-Z curl, football, T-bar, chambered bar, and also straight bench bars. To end the workout, Travis trains his rear, side, and front delts.

His upper back and lats are trained as well. This is the true foundation of pressing. Speed bench is on Saturday and max effort is on Wednesday. As far as shirt benching is concerned, Travis uses it on average, every three or four weeks.

The other max effort workouts are worked for a 1RM. For each workout it could be rack press, band press, chain press, board press, incline press, floor press, decline press, or wide and close grip. Records are kept. On both max effort days, Travis and his teammates break new records at a rate close to 95 percent.

The teammates help Travis a lot with advice and encouragement. Travis is now a real member, now making over an 800-pound squat or a 600-pound bench and at least a 2,000-pound total. Watch Travis and see what he does next meet. I am sure it will be much more.

Remember the title “Geography 101?” What is the difference between living in Seattle, Washington and Columbus, Ohio?

Westside Barbell

Good luck,



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