12-29-2002, 05:55 PM #1
'Journal' of a Westside (and PL'ing) Newbie
Seeing as how a number of individuals on this section of the board were more than willing to assist me in my initial foray into powerlifting (or, at least my 'version' of what i imagine powerlifting to be), I thought i would post a little update as to my progress as a true PL'ing virgin...now almost halfway through the Westside 9-Week Beginner's Routine (with my own modifications made, i hope, intelligently from info gathered on this board). In addition to you guys and gals maybe having an interesting read that might help you a bit more in offering up your knowledge to other newbies, I'm hoping maybe one or two of you will notice something in this summary that sets off a light bulb in your head as to waht I may be doing either right or wrong. So, away we go:
First and foremost, I've never, EVER, hit my hamstrings like this in my entire life. BPL (before powerlifting), standing, lying and seated leg curls comprised the entirety of my hamstring work, with the occassional stiff-leg dead thrown in for good measure...it is little wonder why the back of my legs had all the sweep of kitchen tabletop. With no reverse hyper set-up accessible, I've had to improvise - climing atop the roman chair set up and having a training partner strap my ankles into the low pulley so that i can at the very least perform a facsimile of the movement. I am definitely feeling it in my hams; and while it isn't the "real deal" it keeps me hobbling after a set and well into the next day! I'd heard it bandied about that hamstrings were critical to squat power, but never believed it until now...i am consistently setting PR's on my ME squat days at a rate that frightens me. Halfway through this routine, I am speaking quite honestly when I state that I confidently believe I will add over 100 pounds to max squat by routine's end...possibly 150. Of course, while this might seem cocky, much of it has to do with the fact I had never trained the squat with any degree of deliberateness in my life - much of this gain comes from learning the most efficient form and hitting those stabilizer muscles that never got hit correctly. So, it is not so much that my leg strength is shooting up...rather, I am learning to utilize the strength that has essentially been there "all along".
As with hamstrings, I have also never attacked my triceps with this kind of ferocity...i've added a half inch onto my arms since beginning this program, all of which can be attributed to the fact that I previously maintained that pushdowns and nosebreakers were all my tris needed to grow, believing that, given the amount of pressing present in my workouts, anythign more would constitute overtraining....boy have i been proven wrong! Of course, it's the middle of winter weight gain, so this 1/2 inch gain is not pure tricep - nonetheless i'm incredibly pleased with this. Insofar as this translating into strength gains...i've progressively narrowed my working grips on my bench press during these four weeks, taking, I believe, the weaker portions out of the shoulder out of my benching and utilizing the tris more. I (of course) do not expect similar gains on my bench that I am forecasting for the squat, but I do feel confident that my gains will be quite impressive...just yesterday I close-grip benched for ten reps what I could (normal) bench for only 5 a year ago.
If there is a cloud to this silver lining, it is my frustration that comes every DE day. While I'm making progress on my speed, it is not coming nearly as quickly as the strength gains. On my DE bench days, I am particularly dissapointed, since, as a boxer/kickboxer for MANY years, I have very quick hands. I realize they are two entirely different categories of speed, neither of which necessarily translates into the other, but I'd hoped to see better progress in this regard. I'm left with this nagging feeling that this lack of explosiveness and speed might end up hurting me in the end (not physically, of course, but in terms of progress). Any thoughts?
Anyway, rather than type a book that may never get read, I'd love to get some feedback or have some questions asked since this section of AR has quite literally shaped the last four and a half weeks of my workout and it is largely the "conversations" and tips on these pages that inspire me and equip me with the knowledge to act on that inspiration. Thanks in advance for anything you can offer...i'll be happy to answer anything in more detail if that'll help as well.
12-29-2002, 07:15 PM #2
Well i am glad your making gains, and you know why yoru making them. Intelligence will get you as many gains as the trainig itself.
For the squat and deadlift what most outsiders of the sport of powerlifting dont realize is what muscles really make you stronger in these lifts. YOu may have never truly realized what you needed to do. I knwo i didnt back in the day. With that said your learning to use yoru hips and lower back the way its supposed to be used. Your learning leverage. technique. IN bodybuilding and in training in general people tend to stay away from lots of heavy low back work for fear of getting injured. My low back has been pulled many times in the past. Not once have i thrown my back since powerlifting. I could barely do a good morning with 225lbs the way i used to train (and woudl hurt my back). Now i never pull it and can do a good am with 600 plus. So you see my point? As long as you understand WHY you are getting stronger, and you seem to know, you can always make progress. When your done and have 150lbs on yoru squat, i know for a fact, I or someone i train with could watch you squat and add 25lbs more that day! Keep it up. Your on the right track.
Triceps. All i can say from my own experience is this. Train them hard and heavy. Use mainly pressing movements. You will feel overtraining coming on, when you do skip the heavy shit that day. But while yoru well it them hard. I train them heavy every workout. Vary your grip, vary yoru reps. And never settle for anything less then a PR. If you cant beat your mark from the previous week, find another way. Do a burnout afterwards and beat that. Do less rest between sets whatever you do keep yoru mental attitude up that there is no end to the progress thats being made. Cause there isnt. Not for you , not for along time bro.
DE day is fun sometimes. I am dropping it personally. But i think you shoudl stick with it for awhile. Speed day needs to be just that ....speed. When yoru bangin away on a heavy bag, (something you can relate too) your working combos, and using some power. Lots at times. But when you are working on yoru timing and speed you are using justthat ....speed. Your not hitting the double end bag, or speed bag as hard and fast as you can. Your hitting it timed and as fast as you can. And when you get in a meet, you will see why speed is the most important. It isnt just speed but it is timing. Your body needs to learn to stay tight and react fast. Remeber speed works great for guys lifting in shirts and suits. You time the push to work with you gear. Even yoru knee wraps. So my advice is lighten it up. I am not bragging so please dont think i am. I am a extrmely fast bencher. I do my speed bench sets in under 2 seconds for most sets. We time them with a stop watch. From the time yoru elbow breaks to the third lockout. With that said i bench 625lbs and use 185lbs and 150lbs of band tension for my speed day. If no bands i use 225lbs. So you do the math on the percentage. If yoru going to slow lighten it up. Same with squats. The guys who do not benifit from westside are the ones who are to light on max day and too heavy on speed.
Now i have wrote a book!! Keep it up.
12-29-2002, 07:35 PM #3Senior Member
- Join Date
- Apr 2002
- long island new york
I agree with jay 100% you need to lighten up on your DE days, leave your ego at home and use less weight.
As for your hams and not having a reverse hyper available try pull throughs they're a great exercisce, also find a way to do glute ham raises (your best bet may be raising the back end of a hyper extension bench)
Another thought to your DE problems-- try using chains or bands it's a good way to change up the workout plue like PLJ said it could make your DE days fun.
12-29-2002, 08:44 PM #4
Wow, PLJay, a wealth of info in that post! With regards to your speed, that is amazing...i've never had my set timed, but i know that it's nowhere near two seconds...i'd be willing to bet, actually, that it's over three (I currently use about 58% of my 1RM with chains included in that equation) so perhaps lightening up and checking the ego, as xxxl83 suggests, is best. Though, that being said, it was never an ego issue, I was just playing within the range of the %'s layed out in the beginner's program I am going by...though you seem to be closer to a 30-40% of 1RM - maybe i'll give that a try.
With regards to speed day and your successes with it, how do you handle the eccentric portion of the rep? While I'm aware I don't want to just let the weight plummet to my chest (at least, that's what i've been told), I feel as though (too) much of my time under the bar is spent trying to strike a delicate and happy medium between speed and loss of form. To combat that, i experimented on my last DE bench day by treating the DE bench much like the DE box squat (pausing at the bottom of the rep while remaining 'tense' and then exploding from there). Is this a good idea or will that hinder or even reverse progress? Thanks again
Oh, xxxl83, I've also been experimenting with glute ham raises (of a sort) by moving a flat bench next to the dumbell rack so that i can place my knees on the bench and tuck my heels under the rack in such a way that i can slowly lower myself up and down using only the hams and glutes (it takes out the cavles considerably). when i first started, it was all i could do to manage about 3 negatives. Now I'm up to the point where I'm completing six fairly honest reps with just my bodyweight...it's truly a humbling exercise.
EDIT: I should probably add that, despite the enjoyment i've derived from this program...i'm a bb'er at heart (glad to hear you're temporarily joining the darkside, pljay), and it is my hope that what i learn and gain on this program (which i fully intend to return to cyclically) will ultimately yield greater gains in that particular sport. That being said, a frustrating aspect of this program is that I do not hit bis or calves very often...once a week (usually saturday) i'll head in to do some curling and calf raises just to keep those body parts in check.
Last edited by BigGreen; 12-29-2002 at 09:02 PM.
12-30-2002, 12:37 AM #5
Re: 'Journal' of a Westside (and PL'ing) NewbieOriginally posted by BigGreen
...now almost halfway through the Westside 9-Week Beginner's Routine (with my own modifications made, i hope, intelligently from info gathered on this board).
12-30-2002, 12:40 AM #6Junior Member
- Join Date
- Dec 2002
Speed day is to increase speed strength yes, but also explosive strength. Increasing explosive strength is about shortening what's called the "amortization phase" of the lift. It is the phase between the eccentric and concentric phases, while the bar is motionless, but the force on it is changing greatly.
If two lifters are doing a rep of 315, but one lifter can generate 315 lbs of force in 0.1 seconds whereas it takes the other lifter 1.0 seconds, then the first lifter is going to be much more explosive because his amortization phase was faster, see? The first lifter could probably throw 315 into the air, while the second would struggle with the rep slowly.
So on speed day, you want to keep your amortization phase as short as possible. That means try to "drop" the bar to your chest and "catch" it by reversing it as fast as possible. I put drop in quotes because technically you're still guiding the bar and it's not a full free-fall, but almost. "Catching" the bar is hard to describe but you'll knkow it when you feel it. From a free fall, you suddenly generate as much force as you can, and it feels like that weight just fell right on your arms and then your instantly reversing it. Like it was freefalling and then suddenly hits you at your chest, and it doesn't even pause there, but is instantly reversed becuase you push so fast.
You're right, this can cause sloppy form, and a lot of people will "catch" the bar a couple inches off their chest so it doesn't even go down all the way. However, you'll also notice that the time on your sets will go down dramtically, you'll be much faster, and that's what speed day is about. Over months of practice you will also learn to keep your form better.
So that's why you should stop pausing the bar on your chest.
As for percentages on speed day, all the old articles say to use between 50-60%, but many many lifters are now working in the 30-40% range. I am currently using about 35% plus bands, or 40% plus chains.
Ok, sorry to add a nother novel to this post, but I hope this helps.
12-30-2002, 09:30 AM #7
The speed on the way down for squat and bench for me are different. I go down fast as i can undercontrol on squats but i am pushing up as fast as possible. BUt seem to vary my time in between the two reps i do for squat. For bench like xxx183 said you let it drop then catch it. But basically again like he said your not really letting it drop. Here is the thing. Whatever speed you use will effect the upward motion of the bar. Example. If you lower it fast and controlled then reverse it with great speed, faster then any other way that is the speed you need. Say you try droppiing it and catching it, and you slow down. Well its nto fro you then. Cause your faster the other way. Which ever way allows you to reverse and push upward the fastest. I do not know of anyone who catches it. I have the Halbert Video and he is doing speed and is not catching it. He just hits a good fast rythem down and up 3 times. If you have a problem bouncing it then i dont think there is anything wrong with a short pause. Just make sure you push it up fast. One way i learned to slow down some is i used a 1 board on speed day for awhile. That way when it hit there was no bouncing. Hit, stop, push, all under 2 seconds. When it hits that board it comes to a halt.
As far as the percentages go, it really has nothig to do with ego. You think yoru fast and relize yoru not when you go lighter. I used to use heaveir weight when i tried westside in the past. I was fast ...i thought. Hell i went up to 315 plus green bands choked and was at 3 seconds. Thats not bad, but i cut one second out with less bar weight and more band tension. When i PR i may go up in band tension before i go up in weight it self. Same on Max effort work for me. If i pr on a 4 board with 500 for 5 with green bands choked next week i will add blues along with greens and keep the 500 and go for a triple. All the while monitoring my speed. Yes i watch it even on Max day. Reason is if i am busting my ass doing speed each week then no speed is moving into my Max effort movements , then whats the point? I will then lighten up speed day.
Westside is a big puzzle, all the pieces come together in time. Like in a meet. Or when you test with equipment on.
12-30-2002, 09:32 AM #8
David B. - here you go:
To everyone else: MANY thanks, in these few posts in the span of only 24 hours, I've taken in a monumental amount of useful information. This board continues to impress me.
12-30-2002, 04:16 PM #9
Another question (my apologies for the pestering):
On box squats, how does one determine what should be their ideal height. Currently, I'm using a box about 8.5 inches high (i'm 6'1" or 2")...which at first, I could barely touch without feeling as if I were going to topple backwards or plop down on it essentially falling...which had me switching over to a 12" box for the first week and a half. Now, it's relatively easy to sit back on the 8 incher and hold. Should I be attempting to ever decrease the height of the box, or does it become counterproductive at some point?
12-30-2002, 05:37 PM #10Senior Member
- Join Date
- Apr 2002
- long island new york
For your speed squats use a parallel box and for your ME work you could use a variety of boxes. I personally will use below parallel boxes for ME squat workouts.
12-31-2002, 01:05 PM #11Junior Member
- Join Date
- Dec 2002
Most people around 6 feet use around a 12-14" box I think for DE day. Obviously it differes from lifter to lifter. You want it to be slightly below parallel... but I think an 8" box is too low for DE day -- UNLESS your lower legs are really really short, then go for it. Maybe you would use that as an ME exercise sometime.
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