In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this series, Dave covered the first five keys of his strength development system: coaching, teamwork, conditioning, and strength and speed. In this final segment, he'll talk about recovery, attitude, and diet. At the end, the big fella will provide you with a complete training program to put all this info together.

Recovery

As I've mentioned in this series already, GPP or General Physical Preparation is very important, especially for recovery. According to Yuri Verkhoshansky in The Fundamentals of Special Strength Training in Sport and as outlined in Supertraining by the late Mel Siff, there are several functions of GPP:

  • To form, strengthen or restore motor skills, which play an auxiliary, facilatory role in perfecting sports ability.
  • To teach abilities developed insufficiently by the given sport and to increase the general work capacity or preserve it.
  • To provide active rest, promote restoration after strenuous loading, and counteract the monotony of training.

The Westside solution to GPP is sled dragging. The use of a sled has many benefits:

  • The sled is easy to use and doesn't require a special trip to the gym.
  • The sled is specific to the development of the special skills necessary for maximal strength. (And by the way, we never run with the sled.)
  • Virtually every muscle can be trained with a sled. There are movements for the abdominals, shoulders, hamstrings, etc.
  • The sled is a great way to induce active restoration. In many of the upper body dragging movements, the eccentric (negative) is eliminated because of the nature of the sled. This is great for recovery because the tearing down of the muscle is much less in concentric-only movements.

Instead of making this article even longer than it already is, I'll just direct you to my Drag Your Butt Into Shape article here at T-mag, which will give you all the info you need.

Nutrition

I'll keep this very short and simple. Yes, nutrition is important and you shouldn't live on junk food. I had to learn this the hard way and feel many of my past injuries are due in some part to poor nutritional habits.

I'm by no means an expert on this and don't feel I'm any type of authority on telling you what to do or what not to do.

There are many sources for this information, most of them right here in T-mag. You should read as much as you can and come up with what you feel is the best system for you. I'm still learning about good nutrition myself, and T-mag is working with me on correcting some bad habits, most notably on increasing meal frequency, upping protein intake, and the use of supplements in general. I do use protein and Tribex from time to time, but I've got a long way to go.

Attitude

Everything can be taken away from man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms – to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." – Victor E Frankl

We all have those times in life I like to call "defining moments." These moments in time can be glorious or disastrous, but always shape the direction and path of who we become. From these moments we grow and become better or worse for it. The difference between better or worse is how the situation is perceived. If something bad happens to you, do you view it as a learning experience and move on, or do you let it tear you up? If something good happens, do you look back to ask why or write it off as luck?

What does all this have to do with strength training? It has everything to do with strength training, powerlifting, sports, and life! There are many qualities needed to succeed in the strength training game. I like to sum them all up with three very simple words: Live, Learn, and Pass On.

Live

The most important quality is to live the life you want to have, not the life you have. In other words, if you're a bottom 100 powerlifter but want to be a top ten lifter, do you live the life of a top ten lifter or a bottom 100 lifter? Do you do the same things the top ten lifter does? Do you think the same way he does? Do you skip sessions? Are you as serious as he is? If not, then how are you ever going to get where he is?

You only go around once so you may as well make the best of your time here by living the life you really want to live! "Well, Dave, I'd like to but..." But what? Do what you gotta do! There are many people out there who live "but lives," "I shoulda lives," "I coulda lives," or "if only lives."

These people are very easy to find. They're the ones we call critics; those who've become masters of the "have not" and love to spend their time telling us what we can and can't do. They make up 90% of the people I've met. Avoid them! They love to pull you down. If you happen to be one, then fix it fast because it'll affect your training and your life.

Learn

The most successful people spend their time learning from their mistakes and other people. If strength is your game then read about it, talk about it, and do everything you can to make yourself better. Talk to anyone you feel can help you. Steal from the strong and use it in your training. You can never learn too much. Your success may depend on one very small thing you could never have figured out yourself.

Pass On

Many years ago, in a dark stairway in the back of a junior high gym that smelled like sweat stained wrestling mats, was a ninth grade wrestler who'd only won one match in the last two years. This same kid wasn't a very good athlete up to this point. He played many sports and always did okay but was never good enough to start or be a standout.

As he waited for his mother to pick him up he decided to run the stairs instead of just sitting as he'd usually do. After about five minutes he was thinking he'd had enough and would call it a day and sit down to wait for his ride. About this time, the head wrestling coach walked by and asked him what he was doing. The kid replied that he was running the stairs because he was sick of getting beat all the time. The coach then spoke one sentence that stuck in the kid's mind for the rest of his life: "If you work hard enough you can do whatever you want to do."

I ran the stairs for the next forty-five minutes and didn't lose a match during the entire season. I went on to have a very successful career in sports. That one sentence taught me how to run for what I wanted and I've been running ever since. One kid, one sentence and a totally changed life.

Why do I do this? Why do I write these articles? Why do I spend so much time helping people for free? Why do I care so much when I know most lifters and coaches will never listen? The answer is simple. Why did my coach care so much when he knew most of his athletes would never listen? Because I listened. What would I be today if he didn't care? I owe it to him to pass on the great gift he gave me. This is why I try so hard.

I'm sure you have the same type of story. Somewhere, some time, someone took the time to help shape your way. You owe it to them to pass on what you know. When we leave this earth, it's not what we take with us that maters, it's what we leave behind. There have been many people along my path and I can tell you today I'll never forget who they were and what they did. This is the greatest success in life one can have.

Vince Lombardi once said, "I firmly believe that any man's finest hour – his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear – is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle, victorious." Do you want to lie on the ground victorious or with your face in the dirt?

Summary

I went back and reread the first paragraph of the first article in this series. I realized that I'm no better than the guy who wrote the huge instructional guide for the baby crib. To tell you the truth, I just tossed the instructions, looked at the picture on the box and did it the easy way. To stay with the same concept, here's the "picture on the box" for this series:

  • One day per week, train the squat with different three-week cycles for 8 sets of 2 reps and maximal speed.
  • One day per week, train the bench press with a prescribed percentage for 8 sets of 3 reps.
  • One day per week, train using a special max effort movement for the squat or deadlift.
  • One day per week, train using a special max effort movement for the bench press.
  • Train the hamstrings hard.
  • Train the abs hard.
  • Train the triceps hard.
  • Bring up your GPP.
  • Get some good training partners.
  • Find a good coach.
  • Take an attitude check.
  • Don't eat crap 100% of the time.

General Program Questions

Let me guess, you've got a bunch of questions anyway, right? That's okay, we've answered thousands dealing with this type of training. Some of the same questions keep coming up over and over so I'll address them here.

How long should each training session last?

This really depends on how many people you train with and if you use warm-ups or not. A good general recommendation would be to try and keep the main session under 45 minutes. This doesn't include the warm-up time. Don't use this as a golden rule, though. Get done what you have to get done and then get out of the gym. If it takes you 60 minutes, then so be it.

What if I don't have a reverse hyper, glute ham raise, chains or bands?

If you don't have chains or bands then use the barbell without chains and bands! Keep in mind the lifters at Westside went without chains and bands for twenty years and still made gains! Then the chains were brought in and they got stronger. Chains were used for two years before the bands were brought it. The better question to ask would be, do you need chains and bands at this time?

If you don't have a GHR or reverse hyper then stick with what you can do (pull-throughs, stiff leg deadlifts, Dimel deadlifts, and other lower back and hamstring work). I do feel the GHR and reverse hyper are better. The lifters at Westside live and die by these two movements and use them both at least twice a week, but this program can be followed without them.

What day should I do each session?

Most lifters will follow this basic template:

  • >Monday – Max Effort Squat/Deadlift Day
  • Wednesday – Max Effort Bench Day
  • Friday – Dynamic Effort Squat Day
  • Sunday – Dynamic Effort Bench Day

What do I do if I can only get in the gym three times per week?

Then use an eight day rotation, then a seven. Here's an example:

  • Monday – Max Effort Squat/Deadlift Day
  • Wednesday – Max Effort Bench Day
  • Friday – Dynamic Effort Squat Day
  • Monday – Dynamic Effort Bench Day
  • Wednesday – Repeat cycle

Sample Program

As promised, here's a sample training program for intermediate lifters.

Week 1

Day 1 – Max Effort Squat Day

  • Good Mornings:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one rep max.
  • Glute Ham Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps. Stress the eccentric, try to get a four count on the way down.
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 to 15 reps
  • Straight Leg Raises:  5 sets of 15 reps

Day 2 – Max Effort Bench Day

  • Board Press:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions:  6 sets of 10 reps
  • Pushdowns:  3 sets of 10 reps
  • One Arm Press:  3 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 – Dynamic Effort Squat Day

  • Box Squats:  10 sets of 2 reps with 50% of 1RM, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • One Leg Squats:  4 sets of 10 with each leg
  • Dumbbell Rows:  4 sets of 6 reps
  • Barbell Shrugs:  3 sets of 15 reps

Day 4 – Dynamic Effort Bench Day

  • Bench Press:  10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM. Use three different grips, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps
  • Bent Over Dumbbell Side Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps

Week 2

Day 1 – Max Effort Squat Day

  • Good Mornings:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Glute Ham Raises:  3 sets of 8 reps. Stress the eccentric, try to get a four count on the way down.
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 to 15 reps
  • Straight Leg Raises:  3 sets of 20 reps

Day 2 – Max Effort Bench Day

  • Board Press:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions:  6 sets of 10 reps
  • Pushdowns:  3 sets of 10 reps
  • One Arm Press:  3 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 – Dynamic Effort Squat Day

  • Box Squats:  10 sets of 2 reps with 54% of 1RM, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • One Leg Squats:  4 sets of 10 with each leg
  • Dumbbell Rows:  4 sets of 6 reps
  • Barbell Shrugs:  3 sets of 15 reps

Day 4 – Dynamic Effort Bench Day

  • Bench Press:  10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM, use three different grips, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps
  • Bent Over Dumbbell Side Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps

Week 3

  • Day 1 – max effort squat day)
  • Good Mornings:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Glute Ham Raises:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 to 15 reps
  • Straight Leg Raises:  3 sets of 20 reps

Day 2 – Max Effort Bench Day

  • Board Press:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Lying Barbell Triceps Extensions:  6 sets of 10 reps
  • Pushdowns:  3 sets of 10 reps
  • One Arm Press:  3 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 – Dynamic Effort Squat Day

  • Box Squats:  10 sets of 2 reps with 56% of 1RM , 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • One Leg Squats:  4 sets of 10 with each leg
  • Dumbbell Rows:  4 sets of 6 reps
  • Barbell Shrugs:  3 sets of 15 reps

Day 4 – Dynamic Effort Bench Day

  • Bench Press:  10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM, use three different grips, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extensions:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Dumbbell Side Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps
  • Bent Over Dumbbell Side Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps

Week 4

Day 1 – Max Effort Squat Day

  • Low Box Squat:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Glute Ham Raise:  5 sets of 5 reps
  • Partial Deadlifts:  3 sets of 20 reps
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 to 15 reps

Day 2 – Max Effort Bench Day

  • Floor Press:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • JM Press:  work up to 2 sets of 3 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press:  2 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Cleans:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Straight Leg Raises:  5 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 – Dynamic Effort Squat Day

  • Box Squats:  10 sets of 2 reps with 60% of 1RM, 45 to 60 secondsw rest between sets.
  • Note: After your sets of box squats, work up to a heavy double. This isn't a maximum attempt so don't miss the lifts.
  • Reverse Hypers:  5 sets of 8 reps
  • Chest Supported Rows:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Glute Ham Raises:  3 sets of 6 reps
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 reps

Day 4 – Dynamic Effort Bench Day

  • Bench Press:  10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM, use three different grips, 45 to 60 sec rest between sets
  • Close Grip Bench Press:  work up to 2 sets of 3 reps
  • One Arm Dumbbell Extensions:  3 sets of 10 reps
  • Front Plate Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps

Week 5

Day 1 – Max Effort Squat Day

  • Low Box Squat:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Glute Ham Raises:  5 sets of 5 reps
  • Partial Deadlifts:  3 sets of 20 reps
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 to 15 reps

Day 2 – Max Effort Bench Day

  • Floor Press:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • JM Press:  work up to 2 sets of 3 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press:  2 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Cleans:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Straight Leg Raises:  5 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 – Dynamic Effort Squat Day

  • Box Squats:  10 sets of 2 reps with 50% of 1RM, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Speed Deadlifts:  8 sets of 2 reps with 50%
  • Reverse Hypers:  5 sets of 8 reps
  • Chest Supported Rows:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Glute Ham Raises:  3 sets of 6 reps
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 reps

Day 4 – Dynamic Effort Bench Day

  • Bench Press:  10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM, use three different grips, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets. Note: After your sets, work up to a heavy single. This isn't a maximum attempt so don't miss the lift.
  • Close Grip Bench Press:  work up to 2 sets of 3 reps
  • One Arm Dumbbell Extensions:  3 sets of 10 reps
  • Front Plate Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps

Week 6

Day 1 – Max Effort Squat Day

  • Low Box Squat:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Glute Ham Raises:  5 sets of 5 reps
  • Partial Deadlifts:  3 sets of 20 reps
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 to 15 reps

Day 2 – Max Effort Bench Day

  • Floor Press:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • JM Press:  work up to 2 sets of 3 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell Press:  2 sets of 10 reps
  • Seated Dumbbell Cleans:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Straight Leg Raises:  5 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 – Dynamic Effort Squat Day

  • Box Squats:  10 sets of 2 reps with 52% of 1RM, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Speed Deadlifts:  8 sets of 2 reps with 55%
  • Reverse Hypers:  5 sets of 8 reps
  • Chest Supported Rows:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Glute Ham Raises:  3 sets of 6 reps
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 reps

Day 4 – Dynamic Effort Bench Day

  • Bench Press:  10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM, use three different grips, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Close Grip Bench Press:  work up to 2 sets of 3 reps
  • One Arm Dumbbell Extensions:  3 sets of 10 reps
  • Front Plate Raises:  3 sets of 10 reps

Week 7

Day 1 – Max Effort Squat Day

  • Good Morning Squats:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Glute Ham Raises:  5 sets of 5 reps
  • Lunges:  4 sets of 10 reps (each leg)
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 to 15 reps

Day 2 – Max Effort Bench Day

  • Ball Press:  3 sets of 20 reps (average rest period = 5 minutes)
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press:  5 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline Barbell Triceps Extensions:  5 sets of 6 reps
  • Face Pulls:  5 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 – Dynamic Effort Squat Day

  • Box Squats:  10 sets of 2 reps with 54% of 1RM, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets.
  • Note: After your sets, work up to a heavy double. Again, this isn't a maximum lift so don't miss the attempts.
  • Reverse Hypers:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Pulldowns:  3 sets of 8 reps
  • Glute Ham Raises:  4 sets of 15 reps

Day 4 – Dynamic Effort Bench Day

  • Bench Press:  10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM, use three different grips, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets. Note: After your sets, work up to a heavy double. Again, this isn't a maximum lift so don't miss the attempts.
  • Dumbbell Triceps Extensions:  4 sets of 6 reps
  • Reverse Grip Pushdowns:  3 sets of 15 reps
  • Front/Side/Rear Delt Combo Raise:  2 sets of 60 reps (20 each raise)
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 reps

Week 8

Day 1 – Max Effort Squat Day

  • Good Morning Squats:  Warm up doing sets of three reps until you feel you can no longer perform three reps. At this point drop the reps to one and continue working up to a one-rep max.
  • Glute Ham Raises:  5 sets of 5 reps
  • Lunges:  4 sets of 10 reps (each leg)
  • Reverse Hypers:  3 sets of 8 reps using the small strap
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 to 15 reps

Day 2 – Max Effort Bench Day

  • Ball Press:  3 sets of 20 reps (avg. rest period = 5 min)
  • Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press:  5 sets of 10 reps
  • Incline Barbell Triceps Extensions:  5 sets of 6 reps
  • Face Pulls:  5 sets of 15 reps

Day 3 – Dynamic Effort Squat Day

  • Box Squats:  10 sets of 2 reps with 62% of 1RM, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Speed Pulls:  8 sets of 1 rep with 60%
  • Reverse Hypers:  4 sets of 8 reps
  • Pulldowns:  3 sets of 8 reps
  • Glute Ham Raises:  4 sets of 15 reps

Day 4 – Dynamic Effort Bench Day

  • Bench Press:  10 sets of 3 reps with 60% of 1RM, use three different grips, 45 to 60 seconds rest between sets
  • Dumbbell Triceps Extensions:  4 sets of 6 reps
  • Reverse Grip Pushdowns:  3 sets of 15 reps
  • Front/Side/Rear Delt Combo Raise:  2 sets of 60 reps (20 each raise)
  • Pulldown Abs:  5 sets of 10 reps

Week 9

Max day near end of week

  • Box Squat:  work up to a 1 rep max
  • Bench Press:  work up to a 1 rep max
  • Deadlift:  work up to a 1 rep max
  • Note: These maxes will be used as the 1RM for the next eight-week cycle.

Closing

Wow! I can't believe this is finally finished! I tried to cover all the information and questions we've been asked on the internet and in seminars over the past three years. I'm sure I've left many things out but feel over 90% of what you need is here.