Headed to Westside

How did I squat 700 lbs in a contest?

Type "squat routine" into your Google search and hundreds of pages will pop. But as far as I'm concerned, you can delete all of them. If you want a big squat, you just need to know about the Westside Method. How did I squat 700 pounds? That's right, the Westside Method. Plain and simple, if you want mass, if you want to be strong and if you want to own the platform, ignore those pages of searches that just came up on your screen and instead study and learn all you can about Westside Barbell and Louie Simmons. You can thank me later, like when you're setting personal-bests left and right under the bar.

Plain and simple, if you want to Google something, type in Louie Simmons. The man is a legend in the strength game. He's trained the best, he has been the best and he is revered by everyone who has ever stepped foot on a powerlifting platform. If there's anyone who knows strength, it's Louie Simmons.

I've latched onto everything he has told me and his vast knowledge is also why he's one of the key advisers here at MusclePharm. The man knows what he speaks, which is why I went to him when I wanted to get a huge squat.

Let's set the scene here: Westside Barbell is the mecca of powerlifting gyms. It's home to the strongest people in the world, featuring guys who can squat 1,200 pounds, bench over 900 pounds and deadlift 850+. So, picture these massive 300-pound monster walking around this hardcore gym when, lo and behold, little old 185-pound me comes walking in to meet Louie. I was a pretty boy "just coming off a photo shoot no less" walking into the trenches and, believe me, it was as intimidating as any situation I've been in. Now, you can't just walk into Westside Barbell. There's no signs on the front door saying, "$10/month membership! Sign up today!" and there's no treadmills with television screens on them. This place is invitation-only and it features the best of the best. I knew Louie, so I got an invite, but I was nowhere near ready to be squatting these behemoths. Still, it didn't stop me from being ambitious.

Me: "I want to get into powerlifting and I want to squat at Westside."
Louie (smirking): "Skinny Cory wants to squat at Westside?"

Yes, skinny Cory wanted to squat at Westside. I wasn't ready yet, but the journey had started. I studied, researched and read everything I could regarding Louie and the Westside Method. I immediately started eating more and my diet looked a lot more like the Get Swole Diet with weekend cheating at that point in time. I ballooned up to 210 pounds and my strength started to skyrocket thanks to my diet and following the Westside Method. A big key for me was doing box squats for the first time (see video of box squat). I started adding upwards of 200 pounds of chains or band tension, firing off the box as fast as possible. I would do 8 sets of 2 reps, following it with speed deadlifts against bands (6 sets of 1 rep), again focusing on speed. This workout would always finish with sled drags, a great way to end the workout.

After plenty of hours under the bar, Louie finally let me squat at Westside. I can remember that day clearly and it was an incredible honor. On my first day, I squatted 410 pounds of bar with 220 pounds of band pressure off a box. It looked like a train wreck, but it was more than 600 pounds at the top and it counted. It was amazing. I felt like I had arrived and it simply made me even more hungry, figuratively and literally. I kept training at Westside occasionally and continued to learn from Louie, officially squatting 610 pounds at a meet weighing 210. A year later, I got my 700-pound squat, weighing just 208 pounds. That day I also benched 480 and had a 575-pound deadlift for a 1,755-pound total.

In two short years, I had gone from a photo shoot weighing 185 pounds to a guy squatting 700 and pulling nearly 600 pounds. It was an incredible ride and I learned a great deal, getting very strong in the process. It's an experience I will never forget and it was beneficial to me in so many ways.

Here's the long-winded point: Don't waste your time looking aimlessly for ways to get strong. Keep it simple and make it easy on yourself. Get the Westside book of methods at www.westside-barbell.com and learn all you can about the Westside method and Louie Simmons. Unless, of course, you don't want to get strong.

SAMPLE WESTSIDE SQUAT WORKOUT

(Try to have two training partners to be safe)

BOX SQUAT

8 sets of 2 reps
Add chains and/or bands to your working sets. Add additional chains/bands each week

SPEED DEADLIFT

6 sets of 1 rep
Focus on exploding off the floor with these deadlifts. Add chains and/or bands to these and keep the rest periods short. Your focus should be on speed off the floor.

SLED DRAGS

4 drags of 200 feet
Load up the sled with heavy weight, dragging the sled four times for 200 feet. This is a great knee stabilizer, which will help lead to big squats.

You can add other assistance work (leg curls, reverse hyper, lunges, etc.) if you wish, doing those before the sled drags. This is a great beginner workout for those starting on the Westside program.