The squat can cause one to make several mistakes, the most common being: not breaking parallel. What are some reasons for this happening?

– Not pushing out on the feet; this causes the knees to go out
– Rounding over; just because you are bending over does not mean your hips are going lower
– Not pulling the elbows forward and arching both the upper and lower back; this must be done to keep the bar over the hip joint, or as close as possible to ensure greater leverage

When you do hit parallel, you must push against the bar, not the floor. After all, you are trying to lift the bar so that is what you must push against first. If not, you will find yourself in a good morning position, placing undo stress in the lower back and ultimately causing poor leverage as well.

Converse® Chuck Taylors are the best shoe. Why? Their soles are completely flat, allowing the lifter to push their feet out to the sides.

Placing a band in front of your power rack or monolift and attaching them to your bar will teach you to arch your back and push your knees out automatically. This will build both a stronger back and perfect form. Again, be sure to drive your back into the bar so you are conscious of not getting into a good morning position.

Finally, you must box squat. Why? If your box squat is at or below parallel and you sit on it properly, you will be breaking parallel every rep. You can also sit back on a box to a point that your shins are past perpendicular; this puts the load on the hamstrings and hips.

This is impossible to do in a regular squat, because you would be called over backwards. The two greatest methods of explosive strength and absolute strengths are static overcome by dynamic actions, and relaxed overcome by dynamic actions. Box squats do both.



At Westside, the ratio between the classical lifts and special exercises is 20% : 80%. The selection of exercises is the most important part of each workout. Always remember: It does no good to be strong in the wrong exercises.

For the bench, the triceps must be the strongest muscle group. They must fire before the pecs and delts to reduce injury. Yes, the pecs and delts must be strong, but the triceps should start the press and finish it at lockout. For the triceps, include extensions with a straight or EZ curl bar, dumbbell rollbacks, or extensions with elbows out to the sides. Exercises for all muscles of the upper back should be next, including the traps, rear, side, and some front delts, and lats.

For squatting and deadlifting, the glutes, hamstrings, and hips are the most important. Reverse Hypers, glute-hams, inverse curls, leg curls of all types should be included- but don’t forget abs! The abs must start every lift. That is why you take a deep breath in before starting the bench or standing press, squat, or pull. You cannot train what you enjoy, but what you need. Don’t train in the wrong pattern. Give the most attention to the lacking muscle groups first, and dedicate the least amount of work to the strongest groups. This will balance out your body and eliminate injuries.


Westside has two days each for pressing, and the squat/deadlift. They are separated by 72 hours. One day for each is intended for speed and acceleration, while the other is for max effort. What makes the two days different? The speed day is high volume, with low to moderate intensity; the max effort day is low volume with maximum intensity. On a speed day, a 600 lb. max squat would require one to do 7,200 lbs. of squats on the third week (also the heaviest week) of a three week wave (10×2= 3,600 lbs. = 60% of 1RM); each rep would be completed in .8 m/s.

In comparison, on max effort day to work up to that 600 lb. 1RM, it would look like this: 315×2 (=630), 365×2 (=730), 405×1, 455×1, 505×1, 560×1, 605×1 for a total volume of 3, 890 lbs. That is close to 50% of the total speed strength volume from Week 3. On speed strength work, one must apply form to develop power.

Max effort day’s goal is to lift as much as possible without a time limit. The speed strength runs in three week waves, adding weight from 50-60% or add chain weight to band tension for squatting.On bench speed-strength day, work with 40% of your 1RM all the time with the bar weight, but change from chains to bands to both. The rest period should be short- 45-60 seconds  between sets is optimal. After the barbell workout, do three or four special exercises, regardless of the lift you just completed.

We have covered some of the most common problems a lifter has to deal with… but there are many more. Beware!

Louie Simmons
WS Rules

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