Learn from the Best: How The Westside Barbell Book of Methods by Louie Simmons Can Transform Your Powerlifting Performance
Louie Simmons' Westside Barbell Book of Methods: A Review
If you are interested in powerlifting, strength training, or athletic performance, you have probably heard of Louie Simmons and his famous Westside Barbell gym in Columbus, Ohio. Louie Simmons is one of the most respected and influential coaches in the world of strength sports, having produced numerous world-class powerlifters and athletes over the past four decades. He is also the author of several books and articles on strength training, including his magnum opus, The Westside Barbell Book of Methods.
The Westside Barbell Book of Methods is a collection of practical knowledge and experience that Louie Simmons has accumulated over his long and successful coaching career. It covers the main concepts and principles of his unique training system, which combines elements from different sources, such as Soviet sports science, Bulgarian weightlifting, old-time strongman training, and American powerlifting. It also provides detailed examples and guidelines on how to apply his system to various aspects of strength training, such as training the power lifts, using bands and chains, overcoming plateaus, preparing for a contest, and improving general physical preparation.
This book is not a typical strength training manual that gives you a ready-made program to follow. Rather, it is a source of inspiration and education that teaches you how to think critically and creatively about your own training. It is also a testament to Louie Simmons' passion and dedication to the pursuit of strength and excellence.
In this review, we will summarize the main points of The Westside Barbell Book of Methods and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. We will also give our recommendation on who should read this book and what they can expect to learn from it.
The main concepts and principles of the Westside Barbell system
The Westside Barbell system is based on a few fundamental concepts and principles that guide its design and implementation. These are:
The conjugate method: How to train multiple physical qualities at once
The conjugate method is a way of organizing training that allows you to develop multiple physical qualities simultaneously, such as strength, speed, power, endurance, flexibility, etc. It does so by using different exercises, intensities, volumes, frequencies, and rest periods for each quality.
The conjugate method is based on the idea that each physical quality has a positive transfer effect on other qualities. For example, increasing your maximal strength will also improve your speed-strength (the ability to apply force quickly) and strength-endurance (the ability to maintain force output over time). Similarly, increasing your speed-strength will also enhance your explosive strength (the ability to generate force rapidly from a static position) and reactive strength (the ability to use the stretch-shortening cycle of the muscles).
The conjugate method also prevents the negative effects of adaptation and accommodation, which occur when you repeat the same stimulus over and over again. Adaptation is the process of becoming more efficient at performing a specific task, which leads to a decrease in the stimulus and the results. Accommodation is the process of becoming less responsive to a specific stimulus, which leads to a decrease in the adaptation and the results. By constantly changing the exercises, intensities, volumes, frequencies, and rest periods, you avoid these negative effects and keep your body guessing and growing.
The maximal effort method: How to develop absolute strength and overcome plateaus
The maximal effort method is a way of training that involves lifting the heaviest weight possible for one or a few repetitions. It is used to develop absolute strength, which is the maximum amount of force that you can produce in a single contraction.
The maximal effort method is based on the principle of overload, which states that you need to expose your body to a greater stimulus than it is accustomed to in order to elicit an adaptation. By lifting near or at your maximum capacity, you create a high level of stress and tension in your muscles, nervous system, and connective tissues, which forces them to adapt and grow stronger.
The maximal effort method also helps you overcome plateaus, which are periods of stagnation or regression in your performance. Plateaus can be caused by various factors, such as lack of variation, lack of specificity, lack of recovery, psychological factors, etc. By using different exercises that challenge your weak points and expose you to new stimuli, you break through these plateaus and reach new levels of strength.
The dynamic effort method: How to improve speed and power
The dynamic effort method is a way of training that involves lifting a submaximal weight with maximal speed and acceleration. It is used to improve speed-strength and explosive strength, which are essential for powerlifting and other sports that require fast and powerful movements.
The dynamic effort method is based on the principle of specificity, which states that you need to train in a way that mimics the demands of your sport or activity. By lifting a weight that is similar to your competition weight (or slightly lighter) with maximal speed and acceleration, you train your muscles and nervous system to contract faster and more forcefully. This improves your rate of force development (RFD), which is the ability to generate force in a short time span.
The dynamic effort method also enhances your intermuscular coordination, which is the ability of different muscle groups to work together in a synchronized manner. By using different variations of the power lifts (such as changing the bar position, grip width, stance width, etc.), you train your body to adapt to different situations and execute the movements more efficiently.
The repeated effort method: How to increase muscle mass and endurance
The repeated effort method is a way of training that involves lifting a moderate weight for multiple repetitions until failure or near failure. It is used to increase muscle mass and endurance, which are important for powerlifting and other sports that require sustained force output.
The repeated effort method is based on the principle of fatigue, which states that you need to exhaust your muscles in order to stimulate growth and repair. By lifting a weight that causes metabolic stress and muscular damage, you create a hormonal response that promotes protein synthesis and hypertrophy. You also increase your capillary density and mitochondrial density, which improve your blood flow and energy production.
The repeated effort method also improves your intramuscular coordination, which is the ability of individual muscle fibers to work together in a coordinated manner. By using different exercises that target different muscle groups or different parts of the same muscle group, you train your body to recruit more muscle fibers and activate them more fully.
The practical applications and examples of the Westside Barbell system
Now that we have covered the main concepts and principles of the Westside Barbell system, let's see how they are applied in practice. In this section, we will provide some examples and guidelines on how to use the Westside Barbell system for various aspects of strength training.
How to train the power lifts: Squat, bench press, and deadlift
The power lifts are the main focus of the Westside Barbell system. They are trained using two main methods: the maximal effort method and the dynamic effort method. Each method has its own day in the weekly schedule:
Monday: Maximal effort lower body day