The Conjugate Method for Raw Lifting

Introduction:

“If I wanted to continue to make progress, I had to get stronger and I had to get smarter.
Much smarter.” - Louie Simmons

Back in 1980, from his very own garage, a man now synonymous with some of the strongest and most elite powerlifters, was beginning to build a superior strength training system that would one day become renowned worldwide. His name is Louie Simmons, also known as the founder of the Westside Barbell and “godfather” of the Conjugate Method (or Westside Barbell Method). With more than 50 years of “in the field” experience, competing in dozens (and coaching in hundreds) of meets, Louie himself is 1 of only 5 powerlifters in history to total Elite in 5 different weight classes. He has totaled Elite continuously between February 1973 to December 2009 – his last Elite total being at 62 years old. He has been a top 10 lifter for 30 years and ranked 4th nationally in 2000.

To be able to squat 920lbs, bench press 600lbs, and deadlift 722lbs, at any age is incredible. Yet, Simmons is the only person over 50 years old to have done so. These numbers, however, are not rare for those who train with at Westside Barbell or use his methods. With 23 athletes deadlifting over 800 pounds and 3 who deadlift over 900lbs, Westside Barbell also boasts 15 members who have a totals over 2,500 pounds and 7 with an over 2,600 pound total.

It’s pretty safe to say that Simmons is a master at what he does – and not solely based on what he personally has achieved as a powerlifter within the sport. In this current era of powerlifting, he is known for a legacy of creating world class competitors on a level nothing short of phenomenal. Not only being adept at achieving feats of strength on his own behalf, Louie has the talent and knowledge to create world champions that will be remembered in the sport forever.

As testimony to Louie’s claim that the conjugate method could be applied to a broad demographic of athletes, he has shown his versatility of the Westside Conjugate philosophy by training athletes in other sports. It was common for NFL teams to seek consulting from Louie, along with various champions & world class athletes from other sports who are often mentioned in his own articles.

There is no doubt that the conjugate method of powerlifting designed by Louie Simmons is extremely effective in developing maximal strength for the squat, bench and deadlift respectively, making his unique methodology a revolutionary force in the realm of powerlifting. In nearly every powerlifting gym, there is a presence of bands, chains, and boards. Though these can all be used independently of the conjugate method, and the conjugate method can be run WITHOUT the use of any of these – it is undeniable that Westside’s influence to powerlifting is greatly profound. It’s not surprising though that Louie’s Westside methods were developed over the course of 40 or so years with origins back in the 1960s. When shuttles were being launched into space the Soviets, and the Bulgarians were already miles ahead in terms of their training for strength, evident in the success of their Olympic weightlifters.

Having competed in his first powerlifting meet in 1966 and having served in the Army for five years afterwards, Louie found himself training at the original Westside Barbell gym in Culver City, California. At this gym, he met and trained with four future world champions who would help change the course of history for strength training, and teach Louie the fundamentals of the conjugate method. These principles would later be developed into what is known today as the Westside Method.

Those four champions were Milt McKinney, George Crawford, Larry Pacifico, and Vince Anello. Looking at their methods of training - each with their own unique strengths, noticed it was the addition of accessory movements that helped them to gain strength and find great success in the 3 competition lifts. For example:

George’s training was a combination of a number of different squat variations – box squatting being one of those. He was also known for the use of good mornings in his training.
Larry Pacifico had an incredible bench due to lots of tricep work in combination with high volume bodybuilding training.
When asked by Louie Simmons about what helped with his deadlift, Vince Anello replied “everything helps my deadlift”. Being that Vince was the first man to ever deadlift 800 while under 200 pounds, Louie apparently took his advice to heart.

Alongside these incredible lifters, and many others in the 1960s and 70s, the conjugate system that eventually popularized and synonymous with Westside Barbell was born.
“Louie didn’t invent the Conjugate System. He just made it better.” - Dave Tate

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