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Steven Bowser is a certified CrossFit coach who holds additional certifications in Olympic Lifting, Football, Kettlebells, Powerlifting, Rowing, Mobility, and Endurance. He's also earned a Basic Barbell certification, a Westside Barbell Lifting Certification, is a POSE Running coach, a USA Weightlifting coach, IKFF coach, USA Powerlifting coach, and is a certified Underground Strength Coach.

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He owns and operates Crossfit Affliction in Florida. 

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Incorporating a Westside Template into your Crossfit Training

by: Steven Bowser

You have to ask yourself who in the hell in their right mind would leave Sunny Fort Lauderdale to jump on a airplane to go to Columbus Ohio in the midst of Winter. In a matter of 3 hours we went from 80 degree weather down to sub 20s. From beautiful green palm trees to grey leafless trees and brown grass. For a minute I thought we had jumped on the wrong plane and landed in my home state - New Jersey. That false hope came to a crashing end once I noticed there was no Jersey Shore or any Guido’s cruising around.

The purpose of this trip was to finally meet the living legend himself, Lou Simmons. The man that trains some of the strongest men and women on this planet via the Westside Barbell Club. Lou took the Conjugate System to a whole new level, and the fact that he has multiple lifters, both past and present, that are world record holders is proof. Not to mention a man at his age is still competing and pulling unbelievable numbers.

If you're unfamiliar with Simmons' methods being used elsewhere, you can look at top coaches like Joe DeFranco, who's written extensively about his use of the method, or even Crossfit Endurance, who've been extolling the virtues of this system for years (perhaps due to their founder's powerlifting background).

After spending four days with Lou and his crew for a Westside Power Lifting Certification I was fortunate enough to be allowed to train and hang out with them. We met Lou for breakfast one day and it was made clear that he always eats at the same place, sits in the same seat, and orders the same meal to start off his day prior to hitting the gym. He literally did not have to say one word but walk in and sit at his table, and the food was automatically prepared and served.

After sitting through this Powerlifting Certification for two solid days and doing three training sessions the remaining two days, I retained so much information I couldn't wait to bring it back to our gym. I was just amazed how easy it would be to apply the conjugate program into our Strength System we currently employ. Since we already used Wendlers 5-3-1 infused with CrossFit style metcons we would now offer some more accessory type movements as an option instead of burning out peoples lungs four or five days a week. The results have been incredible.

The main purpose of the Conjugate Method is for your body to handle max lifts while giving you enough recovery time to not over tax your central nervous system. Since employing the program we have seen PRs in our main lifts (Dead Lift, Back Squat, Presses) along with our skill movements or Olympic Lifts (Clean and Jerks and Snatch). I believe the main reason our skill movements went up was from a combo of getting stronger along with consistent training of the movements,and mixing in speed training along with powerlifting.



One thing that stuck in my head when training with Lou Simmons was when he said to train the smaller/weaker muscles to assist the larger muscle groups. The Accessory movements will help get past the sticking points along with the bands and chains. Bands and chains simply change the weight of the bar as the bar gets higher. In effect this will help the lifter get past sticking points and teach the lifter to get quicker to prevent them from getting caught at a certain areas of the lift. Bands cause the bar to get heavier a lot quicker than chains. Both are a great tool and very helpful to the lifter. You can also take it a step further by changing bar thickness, where you grip the bar, and even your stance. Is this method starting to sound familiar to you CrossFitters? Let me give you a hint - “Constantly varied.”

I never would consider myself anything more than an average powerlifter, if that. Before being a broken down close to middle-aged man, some of my biggest lifts were 445(lbs) on Bench, 505 on Back Squat, and 405 on Dead Lift. Thats right - I never Dead Lifted, and when I did the most I ever pulled was 405. It got to the point where I started having a difficult time pulling 350 off the ground due to hip issues. Within four months of not getting 350 off the ground, I was able to pull 550 on a trap bar from an elevated position, and hit a  500 Barbell Dead lift off of the floor with ease. I give 100% of the credit to training bands and chains along with sled pulls and reverse hypers. Combined with a hybrid version of the Westside Conjugate and CrossFit Style training, I put over 150 pounds on my Dead Lift in four months.

I broke down upper body and lower body movements as follows:

Upper Primary Exercises
Strict Shoulder Press
Push Press
Push Jerk
Bench Press
Floor Press

Lower Primary Exercises
High Bar Back Squat
Low Bar Back Squat
Box Squat
Dead Lift
Sumo Dead Lift
Good Morning (rounded back)
Good Morning (arched back)
Deficit Dead Lift
Elevated Dead Lift or from rack
Front Squat
Overhead Squat
Sumo Dead Lift

*** All the above can be varied so many different ways by using Kettlebells, Dumb Bells, Fat Bars, Safety Squat Bar, Grip Placement, from the rack or pins by adding bands or chains. The list goes on forever, depending on your imagination. Have you ever tried doing a Overhead Squat with a Kettlebell locked out overhead? Try it - but go light!

Assistance or Accessory Movements as follows:

Upper Body
Neck Harness*
Heavy Shrugs with Clean Grip or Snatch Grip
Dumbbell Press
Weighted Dips or Ring Dips
Weighted Strict Pull Ups or Chin Ups
JM Press
Tate Press
Skull Crushers
Tricep Press Down with bands
Bent over Row with Barbell or Dumbbell - check out Pendlay Row
Upright Row
Weighted Push Ups or Ring Push Ups
Side Delt Raises with DB or KB
Bent over Rear Delt Raises with DB or KB

*My favorite

Lower Body
Glute Bridge
Glute Ham Raises
Hamstring Curls w/bands
Hyperextension
Reverse Hyper *
Stiff legged Dead Lifts - Conventional and Sumo Style
Sled Work **
Max Height Jump Box with Bands over shoulders
Prowlers

*Most effective - Buy one, but dont buy cheap.
**Second most effective

Ab Work
Toe to bar
Knee to elbow
Band Pull Downs
Ab Mat Sit Ups
Glute Ham Sit Ups
Ab Wheel

[Do about 100 reps of ab work every other workout, but mix it up.]

Here is an example of 2 weeks of our programming right out of our past schedule. One week has the Wendlers 5-3-1 infused with CrossFit or Accessory Movements. We program a 5 on 2 off program, however, I tell the advanced athletes to stick with a Monday - Tuesday - Thursday - Friday program unless they are pre contest to step up Met Con, but possibly hit double sessions in the morning then night time. That way they can get 6 - 8 sessions in and still get 1 day off in the middle of the week and 2 days off on the weekend. At least 2 of those sessions should be strictly skill work and of course active recovery.

Keep in mind I may be able to take some credit for formulating this particular program but I did not invent this type of training. I surround myself with the best trainers and coaches in the world and took a little of everything that I have learned and infused it into what I believe can work and it has. Biggest hurdle is getting athletes NOT to overreach or overtrain. This is the main reason I offer the option to do a Met Con chaser after the Strength Program or Accessory Movements. Read your body, and if you had 2 or 3 bad training sessions in a row its time to back off.

Monday

  • Front Squat or Back Squat
  • If you are on week #1-
  • Set #1 is 5 reps @ 65% of your "working" one rep max.
  • Set #2 is 5 reps @ 75%
  • Set #3 is 5 reps (or more) @ 85%
then:
  • CrossFit or Accessory Movements
  • 400 Meter Run (buy in) Belt Squats 3 x 5 reps
  • Good Mornings 3 x 10-12 reps
  • 3 Rounds of Sled Pull 135M/95W 400 Meters
  • 10 Overhead Squats 135M/95W 100 Ab Mat Sit Ups
  • 50 Double Unders
  • Finish with
  • 400 Meter Run (cash out)
Tuesday
  • In 6 minutes:
  • Run 800 Meters
  • Max reps Overhead Squats 115M/75W (amount of reps is score)
Rest 10 minutes then in 10 minutes Max Rounds and Reps of:
  • 7 Thrusters 115M/75W
  • 12 Kettlebell Swings 53M/35W
  • 7 Pull Ups

Wednesday

  • Shoulder Press
  • If you are on week #1-
  • Set #1 is 5 reps @ 65% of your "working" one rep max.
  • Set #2 is 5 reps @ 75%
  • Set #3 is 5 reps (or more) @ 85%
then:
  • CrossFit or Accessory Movements
  • Max Rounds and Reps in 15 Minutes Weighted Pull Ups 3 x 3 Reps
  • 250 Meter Row Tate Press 3 x 8-10 Reps
  • 5 Power Snatch 135M/95W Rope Climbs 3 times
  • 1 Rope Climb 400 Meter Row for time
Thursday
  • 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
  • Kettlebell Swing 70M/53W
  • 100 Meter Sprint
  • rest 10 minutes
  • 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1
  • Wall Ball 20M/14W
  • 100 Meter Row
Friday
  • Dead Lift
  • If you are on week #1-
  • Set #1 is 5 reps @ 65% of your "working" one rep max.
  • Set #2 is 5 reps @ 75%
  • Set #3 is 5 reps (or more) @ 85%

then:

  • CrossFit or Accessory Movements
  • 15 Minute AMRAP Reverse Hypers 4 x 10-12 Reps
  • 10 Sumo Dead Lift High Pulls 115M/75W Glute Ham Sit Ups 4 x 15 Reps
  • 10 Box Jumps 24M/20W Heavy Barbell Shrugs 3 x 10 Reps
  • Kettlebell Rows 4 x 6-8 Reps
  • 25 Toe 2 Bar

Monday (Upper Body Max Effort)
  • Hanging Power Snatch 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1
Then:
  • Testing
  • 500 Meter Row for time
Then:

CrossFit    
  • 12 Minute AMRAP
  • 1 Rope Climb
  • 5 Strict Pull Ups
  • 10 Chest Slapping Push Ups
  • 15 Kettlebell Swings 70M/53W
OR
  • Accessory Movements
  • Side Lateral KB Raises 3 x 10-12 Reps
  • Heavy Shrugs 3 x 6 Reps
  • Weighted Pull Up - 3 Attempts to get 1 Rep Max
  • Crazy Ropes(aka Battling Ropes) - 4 x 20 Seconds Max Effort
Tuesday (Lower Body Speed)

  • Box Squats 10 x 2 Reps @ 60% (60 Second rest) Speed Work - Bands and chains optional per coach
Then:

CrossFit
  • 4 Rounds for time
  • 400 Meter Run
  • 25 Box Jumps 24M/20W (stand on top of box for 1 count)
Then Accessory Movements:

Stiff Legged Sumo Dead Lifts 3 x 8-10 Reps
Glute Bridges 3 x 6 - 8 Reps
Turkish Get Ups - 5 Attempts at 1 Rep Max - KB or Bar
Sled Pull Reverse 400 Meters 135M/90W

Wednesday (Chipper)
Testing
  • 30 Seconds Max Double Unders (We're doing this right now for the Kill Cliff Competition - we need a video to win, and I think the leader is 72 right now)
CrossFit
  • “300 Workout”
  • 25 Pull Ups
  • 50 Dead Lifts 135M/95W
  • 50 Push Ups
  • 50 Box Jumps 24M/20W
  • 50 Floor Wipers 135M/95W
  • 50 Kettlebell Cleans 35M/26W
  • 25 Pull Ups
Thursday (Upper Body Speed)
  • Bench Press 10 x 3 Reps (change grip width)

CrossFit

  • 21,15,9
  • Hanging Power Clean 135M/95W
  • Handstand Push Ups
Accessory:

  • Lying Tricep Ext 4 x 8 Reps
  • Bent over Dumbell Side Raises 3 x 10 Reps
  • Chin Ups 3 x Max Reps
Friday  (Lower Body Max Effort)
  • Squat 1 Rep Max (20 minute limit)

CrossFit

  • 5 Rounds for time
  • 50 Meter High Bar Prowler 180M/90W
  • 50 Meter Pinch Carry 45platesM/25platesW
  • **Every time you drop the plates = 10 burpees on the spot.
Accessory Movements:
  • Sled Pull Forwards 5 x 100 Meters 135M/90W
  • Good Mornings 4 x 10 Reps
  • Ab Pull Downs with green band 100 Reps
So as you can see I’ve attempted to ad in some type of periodization by working Max Effort Upper, Speed Lower, Speed Upper, Max Lower with a Wednesday Chipper or Grinder which is often taken as a Rest Day for the Power Athlete.

Since our facility as switched to this Format we keep the CrossFitters happy along with the Power Lifters who wish to focus on Strength. The athletes who have focussed on the Power Lifting seem to have keep a lot of their endurance or at least have not fallen off too far that they cant get it back to peak shape within a few weeks of hitting some running or rowing intervals or time trials.