The Westside Barbell Book of Methods Review

The Westside Barbell Book of Methods 

By Anthony Ricciuto


Now if you guys know me as a regular here at PL USA you understand that my main focus for the magazine is Nutrition for the Powerlifter. As a strength coach as well as a nutritionist I have written strength training articles for other magazines. But with the likes of Louie Simmons, Dave Tate, and Rick Hussey contributing articles to PL USA, I feel too shy to even think about writing about strength training in the company of minds like that. Now every once in a while something stands out that gets my attention and in this case, the new book written by none other than Louie Simmons is that something special that all of you should take a look at. This book is called, “The Westside Barbell Book of Methods” and it is no doubt something you want to get your hands on for sure. Now if you have been part of this sport for even a short time you are well aware of the accomplishments that Louie has under his lifting and coaching belt. He has squatted over 900 pounds and benched over 600 at 50 plus years of age. Damn, that is crazy just to think about. On top of that, the list of what his Elite Westside lifters have accomplished is beyond what other coaches could only dream of having as part of their roster. The likes of lifters and coaches coming out of Westside include Chuck Vogelpohl, Dave Tate, Mike Brown, Kenny Patterson, Matt Dimel, George Halbert, Matt Smith, Matt Wenning, Phil Harrington, Greg Panora, Vlad Alhazov, Jason Fry, and too many other World champions for me to name here. He has had more than a dozen guys squat over a grand and more than 25 guys have benched over 700 from his club. The number of worlds and national titles coming out of his gym is more than I could even count. On top of that think of the numerous all-time world records that have come out of Westside. Plus he has consulted with several NFL teams and 400-meter world record sprinter Butch Reynolds proves that Lou doesn’t just talk the talk, he also walks the walk. Lou has put in his dues in the gym and on the platform not only with his lifting career but also with the many students he has coached over the years. One thing you will find is that you can take the lifter out of Westside but you will never take Westside out of the lifter and that goes for anyone that has trained with him. Now instead of talking about all his accomplishments in coaching which I could probably write an entire book on, I would like to touch on another side of Lou as well.

This Westside Book is Must Have

For as long as I can remember I have been reading Louie’s articles and they are always the first thing I read as soon as I pick up an issue. Hell, I read his even before I go through my article for a second time. I remember back to my teenage years and Louie had an article I believe in the 1990 June issue about injuries that he has suffered and how he helped rehabilitate them. I don’t have the issue in front of me so please Mike correct me if I am wrong in the issue cited. After I read that article which I really liked and found super interesting, I became a fan of Louie’s work instantly. I still remember the picture in the article of Lou sitting on a chair watching his

lifters compete. Of course, he looked super intimidating with his bald head and big goat tee in the photo but that could be the farthest thing from the truth. For those of you who have met with him or talked with him on the phone, you will find Lou to be one of the nicest and down to earth guys in our sport. If anyone has poured out his heart to this sport then Lou has to take the grand prize because he has done more for it over the last 3 decades than most of us could ever hope to do in 10 lifetimes. On top of this Lou is sincere about the sport of Powerlifting beyond what you could imagine. He even goes as far as inviting lifters to come down to Westside to train and help them with their programs all free of charge. Where else would you find someone so kind and generous to spend his time and energy without asking for a cent? He is also constantly on the phone answering questions day in and day out trying to help as many lifters as he can. In a materialistic and greedy world that we do live in today, there are very few people as selfless and giving as Louie Simmons. Just to give you an example from my own experience I have a story as well. It was way back in 1994 and I was competing as well as my sister at the time. We were both in high school then and lifting was and is a huge part of our lives. After reading and following one of Louie’s programs my sister put about 45 pounds on her squat in about 6 weeks. She wrote a letter to Louie telling him about how great the results were. In response, Louie just didn’t say, “Hey that’s a great kid” he did much more. A few weeks later she received a package in the mail from Lou. He had sent her the entire set of his videos as well as some t-shirts and hats. Plus she had never ordered them or sent him any money. This was a gift from Lou to help her out with her training and he did it not asking for anything back. This goes to show you what kind of guy Lou is, constantly helping out lifters, giving himself, his time, and spending his own money to give back to the sport. Lou’s heart is as big as his lifts.

Louie and The Westside Crew

One of the things that I have been very proud of is that I have worked with many of Lou’s top lifters for nutritional consulting for several years. So this has kept me in the loop on some of the new and interesting training techniques that are always being implemented at Westside before it even comes out in the magazine. So when a man that puts everything into his passion of strength combined with the fact that Lou is always there to help anyone in the sport (even if you are a nobody just trying to learn the ropes), I had to get myself a copy of his book to see what it was all about. I guess that goes to show you that if there is anyone that is going to influence the sport of Powerlifting then it is going to be this man right here-Big Lou. As you all know from reading my column, that if I believe in something like a certain herb or supplement that will help improve your performance or health, I am the first one to let you guys in on it. This is the main reason why I am doing the review for this book because if anything will open your mind to help to increase your strength from numerous different angles, then Lou’s book is the book to make it happen.

Now the first thing that I want to say about this book is that it is super comprehensive. This is the be-all and end-all training manual on Westside Methods bar none. One thing that is really nice about it is the fact it can be used by just about anyone. So if you are new to Powerlifting and want to learn the best secrets of Westside Training but don’t know how to incorporate it, then this is the book for you. Or if you have been reading Louie’s articles for the past 18 plus years as I have then you can also enjoy this book because he has included many secrets that he hasn’t published before in his articles. Now you really need to understand that this is one very comprehensive book and I mean that. Lou has covered each topic and method

very accurately and thoroughly so that you really understand what he is trying to convey to the reader. On top of that when you read the book you will like the feel of it. What I mean by this is the fact that when you are reading the book it’s like having Lou right there talking to you. It’s not like some of the strength textbooks you read and by the third page, you start yawning because it’s boring you to sleep. In fact, Louie’s book is just the opposite of that. It is packed with scientific information, yet it is presented in a fashion that makes you read and read until you finished the whole thing in one sitting. Just to give you an idea of what the book contains here is just the index so that you can see the topics that are presented in the book.





World of Strength and Power
The Organization of Training
The Regulation of Training

Percent Training
Time in Strength Training

Importance of Volume


Conjugate Method

Maximal Effort Method
Dynamic Effort Method
Repeated Effort Method
Methods Breakdown in Training

Contrast and Reactive Methods.






Intensity Zone Loading

Controlling Volume

Speed Training
Off-Season Training
Advanced System for Beginners


Dynamic Effort Day

Maximum Effort day
Periodization for the Bench Press
Intensity Loading for the Bench Press

Loading for Repetitions
Sample Bench Press Workouts
Westside`s Top Benchers Training

Using the Box in Squat

Squat Training
Periodization in Squat Training

Intensity Loading for the Squat

Sample Squat Workouts


Exercises for the Deadlift

More on Technique
Using the Conjugate Method in the Deadlift

The Reverse Hyper Machine
Westside Deadlift Favorites
Periodization for the Deadlift
Speed Training for the Deadlift


Accommodating Resistance
Using Chains in Training
The Force – Velocity Curve, Science Behind Bands

The Effect of Bands – Virtual Force

Training with Bands – An Overview


The Minimax Point

Staggered Loading Effect

The Squat
Bench Press
The Deadlift


Overall Program Guidelines
Designing Your Training Outline

Delayed Transformation


What is GPP?

Sled Work
Extra Workouts
Designing Your Extra Workouts
Foundational Training for the Powerlifts

Bench Press, The Squat and Deadlift


Back Exercises

Leg Exercises
Abdominal Exercises

Triceps Exercises


The Practice of Plyometrics at Westside

Explosive Leg Strength
Using the Virtual Force Swing


US Approach

The Bodybuilding Approach – Hit or Miss?

Misinformation on Bands
Recommended Reading by Louie


Personal Gear

How to Use a Bench Shirt
Coaching Equipment – The Tendo Unit

Gym Equipment


Top 10 Charts

Westside Club Stats

So as you guys and gals can see this is one very thoroughly designed manual. Lou has touched on just about everything you could think of. One of the things that I really liked about this book is how he discusses what his lifters are doing. Since no two guys at Westside are doing the exact same program because each one of them has their own needs, it is really cool to see up close what they are doing on a personal level. I found this very interesting and entertaining as well. Now another theme of the book which makes the Westside Method applicable to anyone is the individuality factor. Louie gives you examples of workout templates but then goes on to tell you how they can be tweaked to best suit your needs. This is a very important factor in my opinion because so many people will need to alter things from a standard template. The fact that he emphasizes this and then helps you incorporate this factor makes the book worth it just on this point alone. The Westside Index is also very valuable. I have seen all the Westside DVDs and read probably every article he has ever published but I will say that I learned some new exercises from reading the book as well. For the beginner and the advanced lifter, this book is a goldmine of knowledge that you can apply to your training. With all the years that Lou spent in the trenches trying this technique out or that lifting sequence, with this book it is all handed to you on a silver platter. For the beginner, this book will literally save you years of wasted time on programs and theories that don’t work. Believe me, when you start training you to try this and that program out only to be disappointed. With this book in your corner, it is like a virtual coach helping you along each step of the way. All I know is I wish I would have had a copy of this book when I started getting involved in the sport way back when I was 14 years old. It would have saved me countless wasted hours in the gym that I spent on useless progressive overload programs that got me nowhere. I am quite knowledgeable about the Westside

Big Lou back in the Day

Methods but even I had my highlighter out going on a little rampage with this book. This is because of the new and interesting twists on training that was not covered in previous articles. Believe me, if you take away even one new technique or tip, that alone will make the book a great investment. I can be a hard critique when need be, but I am truly impressed with this phenomenal strength masterpiece.

Now to help wrap things up with this review all I can really say is that this book is worth its weight in gold…literally. For the beginner lifter or the advanced, this book will teach you things that will most definitely add pounds to your total. Thousands of lifters follow the Westside Method plain and simple…because it works! For those of you who may be wondering if you should buy the book the answer is yes. You can get all of Lou’s proven training techniques all in one place right at your fingertips. I am telling you this is one book that should be part of every Powerlifter‘s and every strength coach’s library without a doubt. I thought I was well versed in Westside Theory but after reading this book there is always a ton of information that you can still learn from Louie because he is constantly trying new and creative methods to take that total to the next level. So if you are looking to get bigger, stronger, and faster, then Lou’s book should be an integral part of making that happen. There is too much valuable and applicable knowledge that this book offers for it not to be part of your strength collection. For those of you looking to get a copy, you can get it online at You can also call Louie over at Westside and talk with him directly at (614)801-2070 or email his wife Doris at

Louie Squatting over 900 at 50 Years of Age

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