THE JOURNEY (Part Three)

Louie Simmons
Sat Feb 25, 2017

Much like the modern day Columbus Westside, Frenn and West came up with the high deadlift.  Like the Russians, they placed boxes under the plate so the bar was just below the knee.

This is where the lower back is really stressed. They would work up to the largest weight possible on that day for a single. Straps were used to make it possible to use the most weight you can do to build the greatest amount of back strength.

While the Culver City guys were gone in the early 70s, the Columbus Westside considers this one of the most valuable exercises to test our back strength for the deadlift. Today, we use three levels: just below the knee, two-inch lower, and another two-inch lower where the plates are about four and one-half inches off the floor.

Today’s Westside also puts rubber mats under the plates. This method works the back by taking the leg drive out of the lift. One example is Jake Norman, a 900-pound deadlifter officially, but with the plates four inches off the floor his best was 810 pounds. Why? Reduced leg drive.

Bill West did a lot of deadlifts with a snatch grip working up to a max three reps. The author made 670 at 180 by standing on a four-inch box and starting the first weights with an ultra-wide grip with a wider foot stance.

As the weights go up I would bring my grip in a little and also my foot stance until the largest weights were with a normal close grip and feet close together. The author’s best was 600 pounds on a four-inch box, which made it possible to pull the 670 in a meet at 180 bodyweight.

The box squat is the most important exercise the Columbus Westside uses. Casey was the first 800-pound squatter in the history of powerlifting. Frenn made 854 in 1970, no gear at 242. I knew box squats worked then and today. In Columbus we had six members hold squat records.

At times the lightest to squat 1000 pounds and 900 pounds and the all-time top coefficient by two men, Chuck Vogelpohl and Dave Hoff, who also holds the highest coefficient of all-time. No matter what your sport, box squats are the most important lower body exercise.

One can squat lower and wider on a box. They teach the athlete to start the lift with the correct muscle groups; the hips, glutes and the hamstrings. All squats are to the same depth.  This is something that does not happen when doing regular squats. Most of the time, as the weights get larger, the squats get higher, even in contests.