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EKnight's Modified Westside Barbell Strength Workout

Average: 4.2 (43 votes)
4.2 5 43
Eric Knight's modified Westside Barbell workout is beginner friendly and allows for progress without chains and bands. The program is 4 days a week.

Workout Summary

Main Goal:
Increase Strength
Workout Type:
Split
Training Level:
Intermediate
Days Per Week:
4
Equipment Required:
Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Other
Target Gender:
Male & Female
Author:

Workout Description

This is a modified version of the Westside Barbell routine, that is more beginner friendly and allows for progress without the use of chains or bands. The program is 4 days per week and uses relatively heavy weight two of those days and very light weight for the other two, where speed work is involved.

For the first week, use the 1 rep max calculator on this site to determine 1 rep max. Program should be followed for 8 weeks, at which point you would peak for a contest, or take 8 weeks to train with a hypertrophy routine, allowing the joints and muscles to benefit from the new strength you’ve gained, while allowing your CNS to have some extended recovery time.

If you have any questions about this workout post them up on the Muscle and Strength Forum.

Day 1 - Max Effort Squat/Deadlift Day
Max Effort Squat/Deadlift Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Box Squat (bench shown in video) 5 3-5 reps with 80% of 1RM
Deadlifts 5 4 reps with 80% of 1RM
Barbell Rows 4 8-10
Cable/Dumbbell/T-Bar rows (choose 1 per week, rotate) 4 8-10
Hammer Curls 4 6
Cable Crunches 4 6
Notes
After the first week, shoot for adding 5-10 pounds per week to your Squat and Deadlift numbers. Some weeks this may not happen, so don’t get discouraged, but continue going to failure at 3-5 reps until you can add the weight.

DAY 2 - REST DAY

Day 3 - Max Effort Bench Day
Max Effort Bench Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 5 3-5 reps with 80% of 1RM
Floor Press/Dumbbell Floor Press/Rack Lockouts/Board Presses (choose 1 only, rotate week to week) 5 4
Dumbbell Bench Press on Swiss ball if available. If not regular Dumbbell Press 4 8
Close Grip Bench Press/Dips (choose 1, rotate weekly) 4 6
Skull Crushers/Pressdowns (choose 1, rotate weekly) 4 6
Side Lateral Dumbbell Raises 4 8
Notes
See day #1 notes. Increases of 5-10 pounds weekly.

DAY 4 - REST DAY

Day 5 - Speed Squat Day
Speed Squat Day
Exercise Sets Reps
Box Squat (bench shown in video) 8 2 reps with 40% of 1RM
Barbell Rows 4 8-10
Cable/Dumbbell/T-Bar rows (choose 1 per week, rotate) 4 8-10
Hammer Curls 4 6
Cable Crunches 4 6
Notes
The sets of box squats should be done with slow, controlled movement on the way down, and as fast and explosive on the way up as possible. 60 second timed rest between sets here. You should be able to count 3 seconds down and less than 1 second up. The idea here is to exert the same force (Force = mass x acceleration) as on a heavy day, but save the joints and CNS the trauma further heavy lifting.

DAY 6 - REST DAY

Day 7 - Speed Day Bench Press
Speed Day Bench Press
Exercise Sets Reps
Bench Press 8 3 reps with 40% of 1RM
Dips 3 10 (heavy as possible)
Light, controlled, SLOW upright rows with a cambered bar 3 10-12
External & internal cable rotation AND standing DB rotation 3 of each 15
Notes
Same slow controlled downward movement as speed squat day, same explosive movement up. The final 12 sets are rotator cuff exercises and should not be neglected. Very light weight is used when training the rotator cuff, as the muscles making it up are likewise, very small.

If you have a contest or want to determine a new 1RM after the 8 weeks, plan on taking a full week of training off before your meet or max. Don’t even go to the gym. No strength will be gained during the last week, but stupid injuries can occur. I know a guy who was determined to “stay warm” a few days before his meet. He dropped a 25 pound plate on his foot, broke three bones, and couldn’t compete at all. Let your body recover, then make sure you have good spotters and are safe with your lifting. Good luck!

EKnight, 2002, 2005, 2006 Nation bench Press Champion; IFPA Certified Personal Trainer.

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    Average: 4.2 (43 votes)
  • About The Author
    Eric is a former bench press champion. He won 3 national titles in the 132 and 148 pound weight classes, hitting a personal best 420 pound bench press.
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Comments (88)

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vivek neopany
Posted Tue, 06/08/2010 - 11:34

this workouts are very unique and i would definately try out and see the experience of doing this workout

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mike snyder
Posted Sat, 06/12/2010 - 18:43

after the 7th day, would you go straight to day one again or take another rest day and then day one?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Sat, 06/12/2010 - 20:16

Start over on Day 1.

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Yusuf
Posted Mon, 06/21/2010 - 20:52

Would doing this workout for four days with a one day rest in between impede results?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Tue, 06/22/2010 - 09:07

I wouldn't recommend running the approach in this way.

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Khaqan
Posted Thu, 07/15/2010 - 06:51

I am not a proffesional weight lifter so i don't knw the difference between muscle building and strenght workouts would you please explain me the difference between them ??

Thanks for reading and i am waiting for ur reply.!

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 07/15/2010 - 15:20

Hi Khagan,

Strength workouts generally utilize slightly lower rep schemes.

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Mitch McCain
Posted Thu, 07/15/2010 - 14:18

in what way did you modify the original west side barbell workout? Also i might sound like a beginner but what are internal and external cable rotations as well as standing DB rotations?

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Steve
Posted Thu, 07/15/2010 - 15:21

Hi Mitch,

One of the big differences is that Westside barbell training generally doesn't invoved more then 3 reps per set on max effort days.

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Mitch McCain
Posted Thu, 07/22/2010 - 19:20

do you know where i can find the original workout?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Thu, 07/22/2010 - 19:45
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Jack
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 14:32

what is this? "External & internal cable rotation AND standing DB rotation"
also, i'm 5'6 and weigh 110 pounds. i'm not looking to gain weight just add strength so how much protein should i be eating, and how often? thanks in advance!

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Tue, 07/27/2010 - 13:44

Hi Jack,

Rotations are exercises that work the rotator cuff. For internal rotations, keep your elbow tucked at your side, palm up 45 degrees, and move the cable towards your stomach. External rotations are moved from the stomach out 90 degrees. Standing dumbbell rotations are with arms out parallel to the ground and hands 45 degrees from the arm. You rotate the dumbbell upwards.

For strength, you want both calories and protein. I would eat at least 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours.

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Jack
Posted Tue, 07/27/2010 - 15:27

ok thanks! but one more thing, before bed how much protein should i have? i don't have a casein protein supplement so i was wondering what i could eat instead to get enough protein. and if i eat 30 grams of protein like... 5 times a day or so, is that too much since i'm only 110 pounds?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Tue, 07/27/2010 - 19:09

5 protein feedings a day should be fine. Before bed you could eat 4 eggs, some string cheese, a can of tuna or chicken, or anything along these lines.

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Jack
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 14:44

hey i wanted to use this back workout too. what do you think the best day to incorporate it would be?

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/articles/how-to-increase-wide-grip-chin...

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 15:31

I would probably perform chinups on day 5 instead of barbell rows.

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Jack
Posted Thu, 07/29/2010 - 16:29

hey i was benching and then on the 5th set i couldn't finish it because my wrists were getting messed up. any suggestions?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 14:03

Hi Jack,

That sometimes happens. The bones, tendons and ligaments are all adapting to heavier loads. My only advice is to keep working hard and get plenty of food and rest.

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Carl
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 12:24

Why does this routine use box squats. I normally do deep squats, would they not be better to do than the ones listed, because if I then went back to deep squats I may not be able to get out the hole at the new weight. Or is this incorrect ??

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Steve
Posted Fri, 07/30/2010 - 14:05

Hi Carl,

Box squats are heavily used in the Westside approach. They help with proper form. They will actually assist you with drive out of the hole because you are lifting up from a dead stop.

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Scott
Posted Wed, 08/25/2010 - 10:40

How much weight should i be using for barbell floor press and dumbell bench press? Ive been using 80% of my bench max for floor press and from 75lbs to 95lbs (pyrmiding up) on the db bench.

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Steve
Posted Thu, 08/26/2010 - 08:54

Hi Scott,

I would use as much weight as possible, and continue to try and push yourself for more reps each time you hit the gym. I would add weight when you can perform the recommended number of reps for each set.

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mike
Posted Thu, 08/26/2010 - 20:44

would this be a good workout for football? and if so can you throw in plyometrics into it too?

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Steve's picture
Steve
Posted Fri, 08/27/2010 - 10:43

Hi Mike,

This would be a good style workout to use for football. Plyos are a great choice!

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Jack
Posted Sat, 09/04/2010 - 13:30

can you use this same max effort/speed approach with other exercises like barbell curls?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 09/07/2010 - 14:45

Hi Jack,

I wouldn't. Assistance work is primarily for bringing up weaknesses. I would limit your speed work to the big 3.

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Tyler
Posted Tue, 09/07/2010 - 12:03

Hey I don't have a question just wanted to tell you how great that is that you actually respond back to everyone's concerns/questions/etc. Anyway, about to start the workout above and looking forward to the new boredom substitute! Haha Peace!

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mike
Posted Sat, 09/18/2010 - 16:39

could you switch box squat for regular parallel squats sir?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 09/20/2010 - 14:44

You bet.

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Pral
Posted Wed, 09/22/2010 - 13:35

I feel my shoulders are my weakest link when it comes to improving bench. I am familiar to this routine but I still feel I should add Over head Press/ DB Press...not sure what do you think ? What about Incline barbell Press ?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 09/27/2010 - 08:54

Hi Pral,

Overhead pressing in any form is a solid choice.

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jeffrey
Posted Tue, 09/28/2010 - 22:37

hey dude i was gonna ask .. the workout does not contain deep squats .. only box squats. does the box squats benefit the deep squats..and another question have you tried this workout?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 10/06/2010 - 09:01

Box squats strongly benefit deep squats on many levels.

The Westside approach is the most popular powerlifting workout.

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John
Posted Fri, 10/01/2010 - 14:38

Are we using a static weight for lets say max effort bench day and only adding 5-10 lbs every week or do you pyramid within those 5 sets?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 10/06/2010 - 09:02

Hi John,

You use 3-5 reps with 80% of 1RM. When your 1RM increases, increase the weight of your working sets accordingly.

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Dave
Posted Sat, 10/02/2010 - 16:52

On the speed bench and speed squat days, do you increase weight gradually on those days too as your 1rm increases or does it remain the same?

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Steve
Posted Wed, 10/06/2010 - 09:04

Hi Dave,

For speed squat and bench you use 40% of 1RM. When your 1RM increases, you increase the weight for speed work accordingly.

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sahorn
Posted Mon, 11/01/2010 - 13:10

why are there more sets for chest than bench? why are there more sets for bench than prescribed in the original wsb template?

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Steve
Posted Mon, 11/01/2010 - 13:12

Hi Sahorn,

I recommend asking this question to the author. Eknight can be located on the forum:

http://www.muscleandstrength.com/forum/members/eknight.html

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louis
Posted Wed, 11/03/2010 - 16:39

What are the rest periods between sets like on this program?

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Steve
Posted Fri, 11/05/2010 - 13:06

Hi Louis,

Rest about 90 to 120 seconds in between sets of assistance work, and a little longer for heavy, taxing sets.

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Lame duck
Posted Fri, 11/05/2010 - 23:02

The advise about 30-40 g protein 5 times a day on a strength workout for a tiny perosn is probably 2x needed. How much would be needed for a big person?

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Steve
Posted Sat, 11/06/2010 - 08:37

LD,

My recommendation is a general 30 to 40 grams of protein every 2.5 to 3 hours. It's not meant as a law, but to be used more so as a guideline to help young lifters remember to eat. It is a range from 150 to 240 grams of protein. Another way of looking at it is 1-1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, for non obese individuals.

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Graeme
Posted Fri, 11/26/2010 - 22:11

Just for some of you guys reading in here, within 3 weeks of my first bench day I have added 30 pounds to my 5x5. I seriously recommend this workout.

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yusuf
Posted Tue, 11/30/2010 - 15:46

I am training for football and would really like to try this workout. But I really would like to continue doing hang cleans, as well as more lateral movements. Would adding these be too much? and if not, what would be an effective way to incorporate those exercises into the westside routine?

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Steve
Posted Tue, 12/07/2010 - 10:02

Hi Yusuf,

I would add them on day 1 and/or day 5 as a replacement for:

Cable/Dumbbell/T-Bar rows (choose 1 per week, rotate)

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Chris
Posted Tue, 12/14/2010 - 02:18

Hey ummm...im still VERY confused on the External & internal cable rotation AND standing DB rotation....can you explain in DEPTH for me? hahaha i like this alot and i want to make sure i do it perfectly
Thanks!

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Lifter
Posted Sat, 12/18/2010 - 05:58

Look it up on You Tube so you can get a visual of what it looks like because it is kind of hard to explain.

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Prav
Posted Thu, 01/06/2011 - 13:13

I'm not really an intermediate yet, but i was looking for a strength building routine. I've been going to the gym for about 5 months now. I dont wanna do starting strength. Would this be a decent routine for me to do? Or is their a more noob friendly strength training I can do besides starting strength?

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