EKnight's Modified Westside Barbell Strength Workout

Eric Knight
Written By: Eric Knight
September 27th, 2009
Updated: January 4th, 2018
196.7K Reads
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
  • Training Level
  • Program Duration8 weeks
  • Days Per Week
  • Time Per Workout60-90 minutes
  • Equipment Required
    Barbell, Bodyweight, Cables, Dumbbells, Other
  • Target Gender Male & Female
  • Workout PDF Download Workout

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 in the comments section below.

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
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 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
See day #1 notes. Increases of 5-10 pounds weekly.


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
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 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
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.

Adam Long
Posted on: Thu, 10/06/2022 - 19:48

Is this something i could mod into:
Wednesday: rest day

Also will this routine help with athleticism and sprint speed?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Sun, 10/09/2022 - 15:47

Hi, Adam. That schedule would be ok.

For athleticism, yes, it can help. Sprint speed, you may want to consider another program. This one may help.


J. V.
Posted on: Thu, 02/18/2021 - 03:54

I noticed that there are no hamstring workouts on the squat days and no shoulder presses during the chest/push days. Is there any reason for this? Thanks,

Posted on: Thu, 06/22/2017 - 17:33

Great posting on modified routine
I was wondering if I could run this routine like this: Mon. Box squats, dl, etc., tues., bench press, wed gpp., thurs DE squats, Fri. DE bench sat sun. off. I could still use 80percent on main lifts. How would you feel about this format? Also could I run a hypertrophy program whenever I think I needed it? Thanks in advance

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 06/23/2017 - 09:04

Hi John,

Yes, all of those adaptations should be fine to make with this program.

Hope this helps!

Posted on: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 12:48

Any reason that box squats are used instead of the normal barbell back squat?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:02

Westside templates always use box squats in place of normal back squats. That's one of Louie's favorites to incorporate.

Peter Kirstein
Posted on: Mon, 09/07/2015 - 13:35

Thanks Mike. So I guess one could replace the box squats with back squats and/or front squats?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 09/08/2015 - 09:32

Yep, of course, that'd be absolutely fine.

Posted on: Sun, 06/21/2015 - 21:45

This program has worked great for me and is one of the few programs that really helped me increase my strength. Now I am almost through 8 weeks of it. What is a good hypertrophy program to follow next if my only concern is strength gains. I don't even want to change programs but I know my joints need the break.

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 06/22/2015 - 09:54

Here's a solid program that should coincide exactly with your strength goals: https://www.muscleandstrength.com/workouts/phul-workout

Posted on: Sat, 02/07/2015 - 00:43

Hey I'm failing off the chest on my bench press what can I do to get stronger in that position?

Posted on: Mon, 12/22/2014 - 23:55

Has anyone burned fat using this routine?

Posted on: Wed, 01/28/2015 - 18:21

you can't burn fats using this program

Posted on: Mon, 09/21/2020 - 11:20

Hi.Pause bench press.

Posted on: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 16:34

To answer your question about speed work. 40% isnt low, it is actually accurate for speed work because it is to build strength not size. day 1 bench press is to be heavy.

Posted on: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 05:04

I was wondering if I should substitute a lift for a Military Press or just add it in? My thought is to replace it by taking out the floor press. Reason I want to add it, is because my OHP is a bit weak.

Posted on: Mon, 02/10/2014 - 21:30

Just a couple questions here: isn't 40% a bit low for speed work? I am a somewhat advanced lifter, but have never done strict programming before, so I am using this program. But if im not adding band tension to my speed work wouldn't 50-60% be better? Also, is it possible to work some overhead training in on any of these days? Maybe speed bench? Just curious, thanks!

Posted on: Thu, 01/30/2014 - 12:03

Hi Steve,

Is there a possibility to do this workout on 3 days? I did a bulk season until begin of spring and I'd be really interested in a powerlifting/strength routine with this split system but I'd love to focus on kickboxing/cardio on other days as I begin to cut in spring.

Thanks for your answer

big d
Posted on: Tue, 04/02/2013 - 17:20

hi iwas wondering if it is normal when training in this method to poop a lil in your pants on the heavy squats.thanks

Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2013 - 16:08

so you dont need incine bench to get more stength in bench press?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 03/13/2013 - 17:31

Incline bench focuses more on your upper chest, which is often neglected. I personally hit the incline bench right after flat bench, as I don't want an imbalanced look. While incline doesn't work the same portion of your chest as flat, I wouldn't go so far as to say that it doesn't increase flat bench performance.

Posted on: Thu, 03/07/2013 - 14:12

no hamstring or quad accessory lifts?

Posted on: Wed, 02/27/2013 - 15:23

Ive noticed that these 5x5 variations never have much shoulder work involved is that ok......will ur shoulder strength still increase if u run this program for longer periods of time

Posted on: Fri, 02/01/2013 - 01:42

I have used this routine with great success, however I find having military press in here somewhere really helps with my lifts. In your opinion, where would you put military press?

Posted on: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 14:33

Why is there no deadlifts on the speed day?

Posted on: Sun, 10/14/2012 - 22:01

Can the work be performed mon,tues, rest wed, thurs, fri

Loren Greene
Posted on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 23:10

Hi,I'm 17 years old I'm trying to get in shape so that I won't be gasping for breath when I go to Basic Training for the Marines. I was wondering if anyone could give me any pointers? I don't really have access to the proper nutrition,just whatever my grandma buys. There is often alot of rice and beans around the house but that's about it.
I have a been doing a body weight only workout for the past week and was wondering if anyone could revise it or offer any other workouts that would be better suited,I have also just recently acquirred a barbell that weighs 64 pounds with the weights that came with the barbell loaded on and I'm interested in incorporating that into my current workout which I will post. I appreciate any and all help.

Monday- 100 pushups, 3 sets of 15 Leg Raises,3 sets of 20 Floor Crunches(rest time-45 seconds between each set),Plank until failure

Tuesday-135 pushups, 3 sets of High Knees 30 seconds, 50 Crunches,50 Situps,3 sets of 15 dips

Wednesday-100 pushups, 3 sets of 15 Abdominal Air Bicycles, 3 sets of 20 Floor Reaches, 4 Sets of 45 Second Planks(One set with left leg extended, one set with right leg extended, one set with left arm extended, one set with right arm extended)

Thursday-170 pushups, 3 sets of High Knees 30 seconds, 50 Crunches, 50 Situps, 3 sets of 15 dips

Friday- 100 pushups, 3 sets of 15 Leg Raises, 3 sets of 20 Floor Crunches, 4 sets of 15 Side Plank Leg Raises

Saturday- 200 pushups, High Knees 40 seconds, 3 sets of 15 Leg Raises,
Bed Plank until failure, 5 sets of 15 dips

Posted on: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 10:25

I'm wondering what u can expect from this workout schedule? Yes increase in strenght, but would you get any increase in muscle mass? Or would you recomend this type of workout durring a cutting phase? Today I'm doing HIML-4 for the last 8 weeks, and consuming about 3200kcal/day and about 160-220g of protein/day. Is this a good way to keep variation in your workouts? By using this workout scheduele?

Posted on: Mon, 06/04/2012 - 14:44

Beast.... Im going to give this a try after football season to really get strong during the off season

Posted on: Sun, 04/01/2012 - 13:05

Hi Steve! Thanks for all you help and support. I'm on the 7th week and wanted to see what routine do you recommend next? I'm thinking of doing your "Power,Muscle,Burn" routine. Thanks for everything.

Filip Sakanovic
Posted on: Mon, 03/05/2012 - 21:16

I was just wondering since it said it should be done for 8 weeks, what would i do after the 8 weeks?

Posted on: Mon, 02/20/2012 - 09:09

New to powerlifting, due to work commitments would it be ok to train for two days have one days rest then do the speed days together before resting again. Eg, train mon tue, thur fri.

Posted on: Mon, 02/20/2012 - 07:22

Hi there. Would you see anything wrong with me starting this in the middle of a cut? (I wont be finished my cut in 8 weeks time either) I have some strength work in my programme at the moment anyway but nothing like this. Thanks

Posted on: Tue, 01/03/2012 - 23:25

This workout looks great! I have reached a plateau and need something to get me over it so I hope this helps! I watched the video for the barbell row, and I was told to let the bar rest on the ground between reps to keep it controlled, which way is correct? Also, would it be okay to run on the off days or play basketball? I feel worthless on days I don't workout.

Posted on: Wed, 12/07/2011 - 13:41

Hi Steve,

It seems there is not much leg work do you think only the squats are enough?

What would you change if a bodybuilder would like to run this program?

thank you!!!!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Wed, 12/21/2011 - 10:44

I wouldn't try to turn this into a bodybuilding program to be honest. I would stick with a muscle building program:


Posted on: Fri, 10/28/2011 - 10:14

On day three of this routine could you do speed deadlifts after the speed squats?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/31/2011 - 14:27

Yes, I don't see why not.

arlie collins
Posted on: Sat, 10/22/2011 - 10:27

Could you or do you recommend using chains with this workout? I have done the westside method and simply don't have the time to do it correctly. This seems like a nice alternative. I have found using chains on heavy and speed days to bea big help. My bench has always been terrible. I am 42 yrs old and just once I would like to flatbench 315!!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 10/24/2011 - 14:28

Certainly...you could fit in chain work.

Posted on: Thu, 10/06/2011 - 10:12

Just started this routine and was wandering if on day four i could add 4sets of shoulder presses at 8 reps and maybe some shrugs?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Fri, 10/07/2011 - 14:20

Sure. I would drop the upright rows.

sam green
Posted on: Sat, 07/30/2011 - 23:35

hey steve i really think your awesome for answering questions like this. well im 5,4 weigh bout 195 and i play football. how much protein do you think i need to be getting?

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Thu, 08/04/2011 - 15:59

Hi Sam,

I recommend about 30-40 grams every 2.5 to 3 hours. Here is an article that can help as well:


Posted on: Thu, 07/21/2011 - 22:23

ok hi i am getting ready for my first year of high school football and need to start getting bigger push ups and sit ups just are cutting it anymore so i looked at your work out... I just was wondering was could i do instead of the dumbbell excersices because are weight room doesnt have enough dumbells for every one so i usually work out at home i just bout a golds gym but dont have any dumbbells so what do you suggest i do instead of the dumbbell excersises?? Please respond

arlie collins
Posted on: Thu, 06/02/2011 - 21:19

What do you do inner elbow tendonitis? I have been doing the Westside work with chains on speed day and my elbows are killing me!!

Posted on: Mon, 05/30/2011 - 15:38

This program seems very promising and I am considering trying it, but why are there no lifts directed towards shoulders?

Posted on: Tue, 03/29/2011 - 12:41

When I lift weight my nerves get shaken.nomatter how much or less the weight is tey r getting shaken.Suggest me How can I overcome this problem.

Posted on: Tue, 03/13/2012 - 18:07

To a certain degree it is normal, if you are a beginner or it is a new workout for you. Make sure you drink plenty of water all day and stay well hydrated during your workouts. Also make sure you are eating properly. Good luck to you!