What Your Gym Really Needs

Louie Simmons
Thu Oct 13, 2016

How do you build a Westside gym? First, you need special bars. The theory of the conjugate system is to rotate exercises in some way to avoid accommodation. If your back squat is 800 pounds, you should be able to front squat a certain amount or at least have a personal record from which to gauge your back squat. Westside has a special harness for the Zercher squat. It has supports that can be used to do front squats as well.

And speaking of Zercher squats, you must also have a Zercher record. As it goes up, so should your back squat. Westside uses many cambered bars. The Bow Bar has a 2-inch camber. It is used for good mornings, as well as for box squatting. It can save your biceps and shoulders, especially for large lifters. A 14-inch cambered bar is also used on max effort day as well as speed day. Chains make it very unstable, which in turn makes you very strong. We have a rackable cambered bar that fits in power racks and a 14-inch cambered bar that fits into a Monolift. Westside has had a Safety Squat bar since it was first advertised by “Dr. Squat”, Fred Hatfield. This bar also builds a strong deadlift just like front squats do for posture. You need the Bulldog squat bar that was used at the Powerstation Pro/Am, where Donnie Thompson squatted 1265pounds. And, of course, you need bands and chains.

Westside uses lots of specialty bars for benching. First, the Bandbell bar is a fiberglass bar that vibrates when you hang kettlebells from it with the use of mini-bands. As it vibrates, it causes maximal contractions of the soft tissue. I used it to rehab my right shoulder after shoulder-replacement surgery. Three months after surgery I benched 300 pounds in a t-shirt. A great bar is the Football bar. It has three handles that run parallel to the body for better triceps activation. It’s great for speed benching or max effort day. The T-Grip barbell is a great bar to use in your rotation of exercises on either day. It comes with either one or two sets of handles; I suggest the two-handled bar. A wide variety of cambered bench bars are used by our lifters on each week of training. A bow bar is a 2-inch cambered bar that is thick. Most often, a 3-inch cambered bar is used at Westside. A 5-inch cambered bar is used by some of the smaller lifters. The only bench bar Westside uses is the one developed by Buddy Capps. It’s the best I have ever used, and it’s used all around the world.

On speed development day, Westside uses bands to create tension ranging from 70 pounds using light bands up to 700 pounds using several bands together. Chains are used as well. They range from 40 to 300 pounds. Bands are used to accommodate resistance for the squat, bench, and deadlift. Even power cleans and snatches are done with bands of light resistance. Chains are used for benching and squatting. The power racks at Westside have holes every 2 inches from the bottom to 2 feet up. There are holes every 1 inch from 2 feet up to the height of the bench press supports, then back to 2 inches apart. These racks are indestructible.

This leaves specialty equipment. The first and the simplest is the pulling sled. It is used for GPP. Some lifters will walk up to one mile with 45-90 pounds for strength training, making 60-yard trips. Some use 400 pounds. Westside lifters also push a sled; it’s called a Butcher. It’s great for conditioning.

Now for the heavy artillery. A glute/ham bench is a must for any serious gym. The one Westside uses is 30 inches wide for maximal hamstring activation. The next machine is a rear builder: the belt squat machine. While it was made for belt squatting, this machine can correct pelvic tilt while building tremendous leg strength. By simulated walking in the belt squat machine one can develop tremendous hips. Walking forward and backward and pushing off to the left and right will build lateral strength and speed for ball sports. An old weightlifting exercise from overseas is to do belt squats while holding kettlebells or a barbell. This is incredible for hip, leg, and low back strength while it tractions the spine.

The Plyo Swing is a patented device that is tremendous for strong legs. It can be done for leg pressing with bands and weight. It is primarily used for explosive leg strength. You can also build explosive leg strength by jumping off a platform for a series of 5-10 jumps for 3 or 4 sets. You can do jumps from a relaxed state for individual jumps or rebound jumps for reps. For a bilateral deficit, one leg can be used at a time. Next up is the old standard the Reverse Hyper machine. My first patent was issued in 1994, my second in 2002, my third in 2007, my fourth in 2009, and my last one in December 2010. The Reverse Hyper machine covers a great range of motion. One model has a tilting top, some have a roller system, the strap system came out in 2010, and there’s also a dual-pendulum system. It saved my back from surgery at least twice. The Reverse Hyper machine is done four times a week, twice very heavy, around 600 pounds, and twice at about 50% of your top weight. Westside has four Reverse Hyper machines in the gym, and all four are constantly used by our powerlifters and football players who have weak low backs, which can lead to hamstring pulls.

Speaking of hamstring pulls, Westside has an inverse curl machine that will make glute/ham machines obsolete. Now no matter how big you are, you can do a true glute/ham raise much like one does while lying face down on the floor. It has a counter lever device that allows reduction of body weight at the hardest possible angle. The counter to this device is a hip extension quad developer that not only builds the quads and hips but also will increase the range of motion in the hips. Both machines are Westside exclusives. They were designed by Brady Mattingly and patented by Westside Barbell.

Of course you must have a lat pull-down machine, deadlift platform with band attachments, dumbbells, and a Monolift. Now you are ready to challenge the world.

These are the more innovative ideas that make Westside so strong. How strong? The average top-five squat is 1150 pounds; the average top-five bench press is 882 pounds; and the average top-five deadlift is 848 pounds. This should be proof. Our top-five averages are always going up. Oh by the way, our average top five adds up to 2766. This is what it takes to reach the top and stay there.

Louie Simmons