Raising Volume

Raising Volume

            There are several methods that can be used to raise volume. Raising volume is critical for improving a lift or your total. One method is pharmaceutical products. There is a wide variety of illegal and legal products to choose from. Many can be found at your local GNC vitamin store.

            But be aware that many of these items are illegal in some federations. It is legal to attain real steroids from your doctor or at an aging clinic, but not to use them in some contests. It seems like a double standard.

            Westside was competing at a contest and was listening to a doctor talk about how it was not fair to take steroids and compete. One of our lifters saw a patch on the doctor’s shoulder and asked him what it was. He replied, oh that’s a testosterone patch. So everyone has a different view on what is fair and what is not. But, moving on, all methods of nutrition can aid in sports performance.

            All pharmaceutical products work for some people, but can be expensive and may or may not work for you. You must know your body and what works best for you when it comes to protein and all other supplements. You must determine which one works best for you and what does not work for you. These products can be very expensive, yet not productive for your personal needs.



Ongoing Recovery

            There are many forms of restoration. The goal of restoration is for some type of recovery. According to Zalessky (1979) there are three main phases of recovery. The first phase is ongoing recovery. For Westside, ongoing recovery is pulling a weight sled with light weight for restoration for a cool down.

            Always end with the smallest, least stressful exercise, like ankle weight leg curls for 100 to 200 reps or rubber band tri-cep extensions for 100 to 300 reps for recovery of the soft tissue. Ongoing recovery may be listening to music that can calm the athlete down and reduce the heart rate or a self massage and a recovery drink. Everyone needs restoration. The Russians would have a recovery period of sometimes an hour a day.

Rapid Recovery

            After a workout some would use cryotherapy or a floatation tank, or perhaps some method of massage, baths, saunas, or ice packs. Recovery could be using an I.V. bag to rehydrate. Walking or a swim may be helpful, or a cool-warm shower after a workout.

            I suggest you read more on the subject. Excellent information can be found in Science of Sports Training by Thomas Kurz (2001); Super training by Mel Siff, Phd (2009)Facts and Fallacies of Fitness by Mel Siff, Phd (date?); and Science and Practice of Strength Training by V. Zatsiorsky and W. Kraemer (2006).



            Westside uses the term delayed transformation. There is a period of training when one must lower the volume and intensity of training to recover from the fatigue, and then realize the work as it becomes a higher level of success at contest time. You can learn more on delayed transformation by reading page 98 of Zatsiorsky and Kraemer’s Science and Practice of Strength Training.

            In Westside’s recovery system there is a build during the fourth week of the squat pendulum wave. The barbell weight is rolled back to 50 percent plus 25 percent band tension. This allows the volume to be lowered for small recovery. Of course, you may also want to consider non-recovery. To achieve a higher standard of training, a non-recovery three-week wave should be performed to raise your level to a new high. The reward is higher work capacity, fitness, and a greater adaptation for training.

            Is there another method to raising volume and work capacity? The answer is yes.



            For the upperbody , an alternative to nine sets of three reps for speed strength is a high volume method to add muscle mass for a bigger bench. Bill Seno of Chicago gave me a program to increase my bench in 1972. Work up in sets of six reps for six sets and add weight each week for a few weeks until it becomes difficult. Then, reduce the weight and start over with eight sets of eight reps until they become difficult to go higher and then move to10 sets of 10 reps. Again work up for a few weeks until no more progress can be made. Return to six sets of six reps and you find you have made progress with six reps. It will be the same with the eight and 10 rep sets. There should be a large increase in your bench in three or four months. Here’s a tip: use a wide or illegal grip.

            This is a fool-proof program, especially when lots of triceps extensions are done. This program can raise your bench volume a great deal. Just think, nine sets of three reps at 275 equals 7,425 pounds. Ten sets of 10 reps with 275 equals 27,500 pounds.

            By adding an all dumbbell workout every forth week, you can add a lot of volume to your program on max effort day. Always do two angles in one workout. Every time you go to the gym do two or three sets of a dumbbell press that you can start with cold. This should be done four times a week. Before squatting do the dumbbell sets. It will work as a warm up no matter what workout you are doing that day. Example: 75-pound dumbbell press for two sets of 20 reps equals 6,000 pounds of extra work by simply using it as your warmup. Alternatives are two sets of barbell benching, one close and one wide. Or you may do two sets of pushups or two sets of dips. You should do only one type of workout at a time. Change to another workout when you feel like you are not getting a stimulus. This may take a toll on you at first, but you will adapt. Consider the two-factor theory (or the fitness-fatigue theory) where a gain in fitness is followed by fatigue.

            Always finish with the smallest exercise or come back later for a second workout. Large workouts that are extreme in nature in volume or intensity can be done every 72 hours where small workouts can be done every 12 or 24 hours.

            Now consider what you need for the small workouts that should last 20 to 35 minutes. This workout must be almost non-stop: dumbbell work delt raises, band extensions or what muscles are lagging. Note: do what you need not what you like. Upper body sled work is a good alternative to using standard gym equipment.

            Remember the correct procedure is that after a compound movement—meaning the five classic lifts plus Goodmornings—go to a small special exercise that will isolate a single muscle group with great resistance where the reps are limited. To finish, go to light exercises where very high repetitions can be accomplished, where up to 100 continuous reps are possible. This will ensure the ligament and tendons are pumped full of blood to strengthen and avoid soft tissue injuries. Now the workout is complete.



            Just like the upper body system, the lower body training starts with the five classical lifts plus large special barbell exercises including the Goodmorning and Zercher lift or Zercher squat. First plan your small special exercises through a priority system. This means train the weakest link first. If it is your lower back after the large special exercise, start with the reverse hyper or back extensions. If you are limited to just a barbell, do Goodmornings. While this article is intended to raise volume, the volume must be distributed correctly. Think of it as a pie. The larges piece of the pie must go to the most neglected body part. After a major barbell exercise only two or three small special exercise are recommended, but the volume must be as high as possible on that day. With that in mind lets move on to the hamstrings.

            Use a Westside inverse curl machine or a calf-ham-glute bench. Whichever exercise you choose, do as much work as you can on that training day. So far we have covered the lower back and hamstrings. The third special exercise Westside would choose would be some form of exercise on the A.T.P. (Athletic Training Platform). It could be regular belt squats or box squat, belt squat or walking in place for one to three minutes. Other exercises are isometric hold with as heavy a load as possible for one minute. Or deadlifting while belt squatting. For you Olympic lifters, do power cleans, power snatch or push jerk or press. On the A.T.P. we have given you nine exercises to choose from. Abs should always be part of your training. We don't consider abs in the group of special exercise that are rotated, but rather a daily part of training. After all, it all starts with your abs be flexed.

             The special exercises used above are just one example. There are many combinations from which to rotate: rowing of all types, barbell, dumbbell, two-arm, one-arm, upright row, and cable row. Use your imagination and always start a new exercise when your body or mind stops being stimulated. It is important to get the most out of your training and not let your training get the best of you.

            Reverse Hypers alone can account for an enormous amount of your volume for lower body training. A 1000-pound squatter will accumulate about 150,000 pounds per week. This is a consecutive amount as it is based on a formula of four times the squat volume at 60 percent on speed strength day. On the two upper body training days, two weights on reverse hypers are lowered, but the reps go up to account for the 50 percent of the upper body days training including max effort day and the dynamic day.

            The work on the A.T.P. can be very high while both act as a traction device simultaneously.

            Power walking can add a great deal of volume without any compression on the spine. There are countless ways to use a sled. Forward, backwards, sideways, and pull thru are the major exercises for the lower body. For the upper body and exercises that can be done in the gym do them with a hand strap connected to the sled. And don’t forget the two or three sets of either push ups, dips, dumbbells, or barbell presses. For those who would like to jump 40 times twice a week with some type of resistance, this outline should help construct a program to add volume to your training and at the same time work on restoration to make it possible to reach new training goals.

            Remember most of the extra work is for small workouts 12 or 24 hours after the main workout. Do not try to add too much extra work inside a regular workout. It cannot be done inside one hour 15 minutes.  And pick the correct exercises for your present needs. 

                                                                                    Louie Simmons



Simmons, Louie. 2007. Westside Barbell Book of Methods. Columbus, OH: Westside Barbell.

Simmons, Louie. 2015. Special Strength Development for All Sports. Columbus, OH. Westside Barbell.

Simmons, Louie. 2016. Olympic Weightlifting Strength Manuel, Columbus, OH. Westside Barbell.


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