Strength Training 101

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When it comes to training effectively to achieve a maximal level of strength, there are only two ways to train: training incorrectly and training correctly.



One incorrect training method stands out among the rest. Despite its proven ineffectiveness, it is still being taught in universities and followed religiously by numerous strength coaches. The name of this incorrect training method is Progressive Gradual Overload.

 This system of training increases intensity while decreasing the volume of work. The first phase of this system stimulates muscle hypertrophy, which is followed by the power phase,
 where strength is 
increased by lifting intermediate weights
while using maximum acceleration. Unfortunately, 14 to 21 days into this phase, the muscle mass gained during the first phase begins to atrophy. Following the power phase is the maximal strength phase; whereby, the weights being lifted become increasingly heavier as a contest nears. Therefore, abandoning the power phase for 14 to 21 days can stunt or lessen strength development.

Thus, the progressive gradual overload system sets a lifter up for failure! Completing all the phases of this system causes an athlete to lose the volume of training needed to lift a new all-time max. Meet day is when special strength qualities are really needed; however, due to this faulty training system, an individual has less muscle, less bar speed, and a lack of training volume necessary to produce a new personal-best lift.

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The progressive gradual overload system and other incorrect training methods have proven to be inferior to forms of wave periodization, such as the Westside Barbell Conjugate System.



Through endless research, I have determined that a standard amount of training volume is required just to sustain a lift, or maintain a time for running a specified distance. I also concluded that special exercises are required to ensure maximum success. These special exercises are responsible for strengthening weaknesses that cause subpar results. Many special strengths are needed for an athlete to develop to advanced states, such as aerobic and anaerobic segments for long- or middle-distance runners, and the blending of general physical preparedness (GPP) and special specific physical preparation (SPP) training for weightlifters or powerlifters. This is why Westside uses three scientific methods of strength training in a weekly rotation.


Dynamic effort lifts involve moving a sub-maximal weight with maximal speed. This method is not used for maximal strength because it is impossible to obtain maximal force with fast movements when using intermediate resistance. Its purpose is to improve a faster rate of force development and explosive strength.


The Maximal-Effort Method is defined as lifting a maximal load against maximal resistance. For the greatest strength gains, the maximal-effort method is superior to all others. It is far better for improving both intramuscular and intermuscular coordination. Science dictates that the muscles and central nervous system (CNS) adapt only to the load placed upon them. Maximal effort means a single all-out max attempt, not two or three reps, which is for building strength endurance.


This training system is the most common method used among fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders. After the speed or maximal-effort workout, an individual must follow up with three or four small exercises. Size, strength endurance, and restoration can all be achieved through implementing the repetition method. It is a simple yet effective way to raise work capacity and volume to increase a lift total. If explosive strength work is needed, then more jumping, bounding, and depth jumps should be added to an athlete’s routine. Special accessory work should be the largest volume of training, accounting for 75–80% of the total training volume. Incorporating these methods into a rotating weekly routine enables an individual to evaluate weekly progress by allowing him to precisely, not hypothetically, know how fast and how strong he is getting and which areas need improvement.



Many thanks to the scientists whose work I have studied and applied. This has included the principles of Vorobyev and Ermakov along with A. S. Primlim’s loading by intensity zones (the study that has intrigued me the most). Primlim determined, on a per-workout basis, how many sets, reps per set, and total lifts at what percentages should be performed to achieve maximum results.

I also learned by studying the works of Yuri Verkhoshansky, Medvedev, and Arosiev on pendulum waves of periodization and the relationship between intensity and volume. Working alongside Dr. Mel C. Siff at seminars has also increased my own knowledge base. These three decades have been filled with practical trial and error, which included the application of principles of mathematics, physics, and biomechanics. All of this has resulted in the strength-training methods that have enabled Westside lifters to break all-time world records and earned Westside Barbell the reputation of being the strongest gym in the world.



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