Training the West Side Way


Two weeks ago I travelled to Dublin, OH to speak at the National Throws Coaches Association Annual meeting. This is the 5th year of the association and I've spoken at each meeting. They keep getting better and better and the speaker lineup is tough to beat. This year Larry Judge, Brian Oldfield, John Godina, and Koji Murofushi were all invited speakers. The speaker I thought you'd enjoy hearing about most was Louie Simmons of West Side Barbell. If you're unfamiliar with Louie his powerlifting club is the best of the best. Louie has coached 10 guys over 900 pounds in the squat and 3 over 1,000. Here are some interesting things he had to say:

  • Box squats are the ONLY way to squat. He felt they were so superior to other forms that his athletes NEVER squat without a box.
    • He felt it was the safest.
    • It ensured depth of the squat…something which typically gets worse with increasing loads.
    • It breaks up the eccentric-concentric chain.
    • It makes the hamstring and glutes the prime movers.
    • Hamstrings must pull the athlete forward just to get off the box.
    • Builds explosive power.
    • Hips are the source of athletic performance and the box squat has greater hip involvement than other varieities.
  • Bands are used in 90% of the workouts they do.
  • He changes bars (buffalo bar, safety squat, normal, etc.) very frequently as a way to introduce  variety in to the training program.
  • He spoke of abrupt loading with chains….where the load changes abruptly due to deloading / loading of the chain as it leaves and touches the ground.
  • Combination loading involves the use of bands and chains.
  • He felt that if he was were training Olympic lifters that the U.S. would be among the best in the world.
    • He felt that the reason U.S. Olympic lifters didn't have much international success was because they trained with too many lifts that offered to little training stimulus specific to the actual competition lifts.
    • If he trained the Olympic lifts he would only use the competition lifts and the power clean, power snatch, jerk and box front squats.
  • He spoke of the lightening method where bands are attached to the top of a rack to unload the bar and create a supra-maximal speed scenario.
  • He thought that the low back should only be trained using 10+ reps but can be trained 5-6x / week. He felt that using heavier loads was misguided due to the anatomical structure of the lumbar area.
    • A standard low back exercise protocol would be 3-4 sets of 10 reps @ about 50% of maximum.
  • He likes to warmup with heavy reverse hypers and finish with heavier reverse hypers.
  • Prefers to use jumping exercises over Olympic lifts to develop explosiveness.
    • Sitting on a box to jumping for distance or height is a common exercise.
  • If he were to use Olympic lifts he would do cleans and snatches from the knees rather than the feet.
  • Thought that it was tough to work two different types of strength in one workout.
  • Likes to use weight releasers as a contrast method.
  • The only overhead lifts he uses are DB and BB presses.
  • If he were training throwers he would focus on push presses and push jerks.
  • He doesn't like Olympic lifts because they have a controlled movement at the start. He thought this was contrary to many athletic movements.
  • He thought that each person had a 'strain capacity' or the ability to strain for a set amount of time before a failed lift would occur. As a result he thought it was important to train for speed as well as strength to ensure that the athlete was able to finish the lift within the time of the 'strain capacity.'
  • He felt that injury tends to come from fatique rather than maximal loading.
  • His training cycles are only 2-3 weeks long. He felt he only needed one cycle ot prepare an athlete for a powerlifting competition.
  • Louie felt that box jumps while holding DBs can be very beneficial. He prescribes them in setups like 4 x 15 and changes the angle each week.
  • He likes to put foam on the box when he does box squats. He felt the foam was very important to their success. He said he doesn't mention it in his articles because he doesn't want to sell the stuff. The purpose of the foam is to ensure that the athlete settles in on the box. The foam used is low-density and provides no bounce-back to the athlete.
  • Liked the use of 'chaotic state' training in which kettlebells are hung a bar via bands. He found them to be good for good mornings and bench presses and credited them with repairing his rotator cuff.

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Mike Young

Mike Young

Founder of ELITETRACK at Athletic Lab
Mike has a BS in Exercise Physiology from Ohio University, an MSS in Coaching Science from Ohio University & a PhD in Biomechanics from LSU. Additionally, he has been recognized as a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength & Conditioning Association, a Level 3 coach by USA Track & Field, a Level 2 coach by USA Weightlifting.
Mike Young


📈Owner @AthleticLab 🏆Perf Dir @theNCCourage ⚽️Fit Coach @NorthCarolinaFC ➡️Proformance 📚Keynote Speaker & Author 📊Sport Science & Research🏃🏾‍♂️T&F 💪🏼S&C 🏋🏽‍♂️WL
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Mike Young
Mike Young