The Westside Barbell Conjugate Method: A Guide to Accessory Work

In my article The Westside Barbell Conjugate Method: A Users Guide, I outlined the basics of Westside’s methodology and how to set up an appropriate training regimen.

As you may recall, I stated that an entirely separate article must eventually be devoted to explaining the accessory work and how to train YOUR individual weaknesses.

This article will do precisely that.

In the following paragraphs I detail which muscle groups must be trained on each day, how to auto-regulate your training routine, and which exercises/movements should be utilized based on your individual needs.

In short, I explain exactly what you need to do in order to make long-lasting and significant progress while using The Westside Barbell Conjugate Method.

As a final note, I strongly encourage everyone to read The Westside Barbell Conjugate Method: A Users Guide prior to reading this.

You have been warned…

Enjoy

A System of Varying Volumes and Intensities

First and foremost, it is essential for trainees to understand the Westside Barbell Conjugate Method is a system of varying volumes and intensities.

As some of you may be aware, Westside waves the total volume and intensity of each workout based on the recommendations outlined in Prilepin’s Chart.

Without delving into excruciating detail, Prilepin’s Chart provides individuals with the primary information needed to make intelligent decisions regarding the total volume and intensity of a single training bout.

At this point, it’s necessary to create a working definition for volume and intensity in the context of this article.

Intensity refers to the total amount of weight being used relative to the trainee’s 1 repetition maximum (1RM). Generally speaking, heavier weight relates to a higher intensity, whereas lighter weight relates to a lower intensity.

Volume can be loosely defined as the total amount of work completed by the end of a single training session. Generally speaking, a greater number of repetitions relates to a higher volume whereas a lower number of repetitions relates to a lower volume.

This is where wave periodization of volumes and intensities comes into play, so pay attention:

As you already know, Westside follows a 4-day/week training schedule, dedicating 2 days to The Maximal Effort Method and 2 days to The Dynamic Effort Method.

Since Maximal Effort training days are extremely high intensity, trainees must keep the total volume of these sessions somewhat low.

On the other hand, since Dynamic Effort days are comparatively low in intensity, individuals must use these sessions to train with a significantly higher volume.

To illustrate this in the simplest form possible, I have provided the table below:

Max Effort Days: Intensity: High Volume: Low
Dynamic Effort Days: Intensity: Low Volume: High

As you can see, the varying ranges of volume and intensity create a wave throughout the weekly training cycle, hence the name Wave Periodization.

Accessory Work

Attempting to explain the Accessory Work Guidelines in paragraph form would be too jumbled-up and cause a great deal of confusion.

Therefore, to make this piece as clear and concise as possible, I have outlined the Max Effort and Dynamic Effort Guidelines in their own respective lists.

Max Effort Day Accessory Work Guidelines

  • Intensity: High
  • Volume: Low to Moderate
  • Number of Exercises per Day: 3-5 individual accessory movements per day
  • Number of Sets per Exercise: Roughly 2-4
  • Average Repetition Range per set: Roughly 5-12 per set
  • Rest: 1-3 minutes between sets
  • Total Training Time: Complete your training session within 60 minutes
  • Variations: Perform the same accessory movements for a maximum of 1-3 weeks
  • Progression: Aim to improve in your accessory work on a weekly basis. Improvements in accessory work will lead to improvements in the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift

 

Which Muscle Groups and in What Order?

 To outline which muscle groups and in what order they need to be trained, I have provided the tables below:

 ME Squat/Deadlift Day:

  1. Main Move: Work up to a 1-3RM in a variation of the Squat or Deadlift
  2. Heavy Compound Movement: Perform 2-5 sets of 3-6 repetitions in a compound lift targeting your specific weaknesses. Examples of compound movements include: Deadlift variations, Squat variations, Good Morning variations, Glute-Ham Raise variations, etc.
  3. Glutes/Hamstrings/Erectors: Perform 1-2 different exercises for 2-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions in a movement targeting these specific muscle groups
  4. Lats: Perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions
  5. Abs: Perform 1-3 sets of 15-30 repetitions

 

 ME Bench Press Day:

  1. Main Move: Work up to a 1-3RM in a variation of the Bench Press
  2. Heavy Compound Movement: Perform 2-5 sets of 3-6 repetitions in a compound lift targeting your specific weaknesses. Examples of compound movements include: Dumbbell Bench Press Variations, Barbell Bench Press Variations, Pushups Variations, Dip Variations, etc.
  3. Triceps: Perform 1-2 different exercises for 2-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions in a movement targeting the area surrounding your elbows and triceps.
  4. Back and Lats: Perform 1-2 different exercises for 2-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions in a movement targeting your entire upper back.
  5. Shoulders: Perform 1-3 sets of 10-20 repetitions in a movement targeting your anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids.
  6. Abs: Perform 1-3 sets of 15-30 repetitions

 

Dynamic Effort Day Accessory Work Guidelines

  • Intensity: Low
  • Volume: High
  • Number of Exercises per Day: 4-5 individual accessory movements per day
  • Number of Sets per Exercise: Roughly 2-4
  • Average Repetition Range per Set: Roughly 12-20
  • Rest: 1-3 minutes between sets
  • Total Training Time: Complete your training session within 60 minutes
  • Variations: Perform the same accessory movements for a maximum of 1-3 weeks
  • Progression: Aim to improve in your accessory work on a weekly basis. Improvements in accessory work will lead to improvements in the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift

Which Muscles and in What Order?

To outline which muscle groups and in what order they need to be trained, I have provided the tables below:

DE Squat/Deadlift Day

  1. Main Move: 10-12 sets of 2 repetitions in a variation of the Box Squat at 50-60% 1RM
  2. Dynamic Effort Deadlift: 6-10 sets of 1-3 repetitions in a variation of the Deadlift at 60-85% 1RM
  3. Glutes/Hamstrings/Erectors: Perform 1-2 different exercises for 3-6 sets of 15-25 repetitions in a movement targeting these specific muscle groups
  4. Lats: Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions
  5. Abs: Perform 2-3 sets of 20-50 repetitions

 

DE Bench Press Day

  1. Maine Move: 9 sets of 3 repetitions in a variation of the Bench Press at 50% 1RM
  2. Light(er) Compound Movement: Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 repetitions in a compound movement targeting your specific weaknesses. Examples of compound movements include: Dumbbell Bench Press Variations, Barbell Bench Press Variations, Pushup Variations, Dip Variations, etc.
  3. Triceps: Perform 1-2 different exercises for 2-3 sets of 15-30 repetitions in a movement targeting the area around your elbows and triceps
  4. Back and Lats: Perform 1-2 different exercises for 2-3 sets of 12-20 repetitions in a movement targeting your entire upper back
  5. Shoulders: Perform 1-2 different exercises for 2-3 sets of 15-30 repetitions in a movement targeting your anterior, medial, and posterior deltoids.
  6. Abs: Perform 1-3 sets of 20-50 repetitions

Accessory Work Extra’s

Perhaps the single most common error made by individual’s attempting to replicate Westside’s system is to go “all-out” on the main move and subsequently half-ass or totally neglect the accessory work.

DO NOT DO THIS!!!!

While the main movements are undoubtedly essential to achieving optimal results, it’s necessary to understand that the accessory work is equally (if not more) important.

There are numerous ways to progress in your accessory work such as:

  • Using more weight
  • Completing more repetitions
  • Using a larger range of motion (ROM)
  • Using a longer period of time under tension (TUT)

Regardless of which option(s) you choose, if you’re not constantly attacking your accessory movements and aiming to improve on a daily basis, you will never reach your ultimate strength potential.

Exercise Selection Based on Individual Sticking Points

No two individuals are exactly the same and therefore require different specialty movements based on their specific weaknesses.

I encourage each of you to analyze your current weak points in the Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift to determine which accessory movements may be optimal for you.

I’d note a large majority of individuals are simply weak and do not need to worry about sticking points. Rather, following the guidelines as outlined throughout this article and constantly aiming to improve their overall strength will result in drastic strength increases.

However, once you have reached an adequate level of strength, it will be necessary to examine your individual weaknesses and how to attack them one by one.

To help you get started, I have provided a list of exercises which I have found to be extraordinarily effective in aiding trainees out of their specific sticking points.

 

Squat

Weak Out of The Hole:

  • All Box Squat Variations (especially below parallel)
  • Concentric-only Good Morning Variations
  • Sumo Deadlift Variations
  • Box Jumping Variations

Weak Near Lockout:

  • All Box Squat Variations (*slightly* above parallel)
  • Good Morning Variations (especially with Safety Squat Bar)
  • Concentric-only Squat Variations
  • Hip-Thrust Variations

Deadlift

Weak off the Floor:

  • Deficit Deadlifts
  • Concentric Good Morning Variations
  • All Box Squat Variations
  • Box Jumping Variations

Weak at Lockout:

  • Band-Resisted Deadlifts
  • Hip-Thrust Variations
  • Rack Pulls
  • Reverse Hyperextensions
  • Glute-Ham Raise

Bench Press

Weak Off the Chest:

  • Incline Bench Press Variations
  • Concentric Only Bench Press (from chest)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press Variations
  • Feet Elevated Pushup Variations
  • 3” Cambered Bar Bench Press

Weak at Lockout:

  • Floor Press Variations
  • Rack Press Variations
  • Board Press Variations
  • Close Grip Bench Press Variations

Auto-Regulation and Cybernetic Periodization

Many trainees tend to place entirely too much emphasis on adhering to an exact number of sets and repetitions at each and every training session.

While it is certainly important to have a solid understanding of what rep ranges are generally used to achieve certain goals, it is equally important to develop the skill-set of listening to your body and understanding how to regulate your training on a day-to-day basis.

Cybernetic Periodization is a concept discussed by Dr. Mel Siff in his extraordinary book, Super Training. Basically, Cybernetic Periodization refers to the trainee’s ability to adjust their training program on any given day based on a variety of factors such as how they feel or their current set of goals.

While making use of The Westside Barbell Conjugate Method, it is essential to understand that what I have outlined above is simply a guideline. I have provided a frame-work which each and every individual can use, manipulate, and tweak in order to create the optimal program for them!

Granted, at each and every training session individuals must have a clear understanding of what is trying to be accomplished, what is an appropriate volume and intensity, which muscle groups need to be trained, and how to attack their individual weaknesses.

However, learning how to listen to the body, track progress, and understand what produces the best results is an indispensible set of skills that will facilitate long-term success.

To become proficient in auto-regulation, you must allow yourself to go through a period of trial and error. You must be willing to go the gym, devote an incredible amount of time and effort, and experiment with new and foreign methods. You must keep track of your progress to find what works and what doesn’t; what’s necessary and what can be dispensed from your programming. Each and every individual is different. What works for your training partner might not work for you. Be consistent and track your progress, when you find what works for you, stick with it!

Figuring out how to auto-regulate training will certainly not happen overnight, but through consistent and accurate self-assessment individuals can eventually learn how to make intelligent choices regarding their training, such as when it’s time to push themselves to the limit, or perhaps when it’s time to take a de-load week.

Want to To Use My 12-Week Peaking Program to Add Up to 100lbs to Your Squat, Bench Press, and Deadlift?

Specifically designed for raw powerlifters peaking for a meet or trying to get as strong as possible, I created Raw Strength for Powerlifting through years of trial, error, and success.

Having pulled 4x my bodyweight, totaled Elite numerous times as a raw powerlifter, and worked with hundreds of successful lifters, I know what it takes to get strong and Raw Strength for Powerlifting will give you my blueprint for success. 

Wrapping Up

Used correctly, The Westside Barbell Conjugate Method is one of the most efficient and effective methods for improving overall strength and athletic performance.

No one ever said it would be easy, but rarely does anyone say it wasn’t worth it.

Never Minimal. Never Maximal. Always Optimal.

-J






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