More Tips-n-Tricks for Strength and Size



his first TNT article, big Dave Tate

cut through the BS and dropped some great training info on us. This week Dave

provides us with a few more explosive tips and tricks, this time for the more

advanced trainee.

Keep in mind that this article is geared toward those who are already familiar

with the Westside system of training. If you’re not, then you may want

to check out these articles by Dave: Squatting from Head to Toe, Accommodating Resistance, Drag Your Butt into Shape, and The Periodization Bible, Part II.

"What is work capacity and how can I increase it?"


a recent dinner conversation with Louie Simmons and Mel Siff (author of Supertraining),

the topic of periodization training came up. Mel made a statement that I’ll

never forget. He told us about something Medvedyev, one of the originators of

the periodization concept, had said years before: "Periodization training in

the United States has been set back 40 years by some of the current books written

on the topic."


is a statement Louie and I have been trying to tell athletes for years. Not

only will this Western style of training lead to overtraining and stagnation,

it also ignores one basic concept of training: increasing work capacity.


capacity is the underlying component of any training program. It’s the

ability to perform work, which determines your level of fitness that will, in

turn, determine your level of preparedness. If you raise your work capacity

too fast, you’ll overtrain; if you reduce it under your current level,

you’ll regress. If your work capacity is still at the same level it was

two years ago, then I’ll bet you’re at the same strength and hypertrophy

level you were two years ago!


how the heck do you increase work capacity? You can increase your work capacity

by several means; one of the best ways is to incorporate extra training sessions.

In other countries, it’s not uncommon to see athletes performing up to

three or four workouts per day! There are several types of extra workouts that

can make a tremendous difference in your training. Each type of workout is designed

to illicit a certain outcome. Here are some examples:


Recovery Workouts: These training sessions may also be known as "feeder"

workouts and are designed to aid in the recovery process. For example, if you

performed a heavy bench press workout on day one with 400 pounds, then on day

two you’d use the same exercise with very light weight for higher repetitions,

such as 135 for two sets of 20. The idea is to induce blood into the muscle

to speed the recovery process.


type of feeder or recovery workout (and the one most used at Westside Barbell)

is sled dragging. This has helped our lifters with a multitude of training situations.

We’ve seen the use of the sled add 30 to 60 pounds to the deadlift, aid

in the recovery process, add lean body mass, and bring up weak points.


sled can be used for a number of different exercises for both the upper and

lower body. Some of these include standard around-the-waist dragging, ankle

dragging (where you drag the sled with the use of your legs), and pull-through

dragging (where you drag the sled by holding the sled strap between your legs).

You can also perform upper body dragging where you drag the sled by performing

front raises, rear raises, side raises, presses and extensions.


sled exercises are best used with the empirical rule of 60%. This basically

means that on day one you choose the heaviest weight you’ll use for that

exercise and then decrease the weight by 60% each day after that for three days.

After that point you repeat the process. This rule is essential for avoiding

stagnation with any given dragging exercise.


great benefit of the sled is that there’s no eccentric (negative) motion

for many of the exercises. It’s believed that the eccentric is responsible

for DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and when the eccentric is taken away

from the exercise, you’re left with a concentric motion that’ll induce

blood flow to the muscle without causing soreness.


Work Capacity Workouts: The sled is also used for increasing work

capacity by dragging heavy twice a week. In this case, the athlete would start

with one 45-pound plate on the sled and drag it for 200 feet, then rest for

30 to 45 seconds, put another plate on the sled and drag it for another 200

feet. This is repeated until the weight can’t be pulled the desired distance.

This exercise alone has been responsible for bodyweight gains up to 30 pounds

with several members of Westside, as well as many of my personal clients.


Targeting Weak Points: These workouts are extra training sessions

devoted to your weak points. For most athletes, the abdominals are a great example

of where extra training sessions can make a real difference. This workout would

be preformed separate from the main training workout and would specialize on

that one area.


sample-training week using these extra workouts may look like this:


(8:30 am) = Max Effort Training for the squat and deadlift


(4:00pm) = Extra work on the reverse hyper, glute ham raise and abdominals


(5:00pm) = Recovery sled work


(8:30 am) = Recovery sled work, feeder work on the reverse hyper and

extra abdominal work


(8:30 am) = Max Effort Training for the bench press


(4:00pm) = Extra work on the reverse hyper, glute ham raise and abdominals


(5:00pm) = Recovery sled work


(8:30am) = Recovery sled work, feeder work for the chest and triceps

and extra abdominal work


(8:30am) = Dynamic Effort Training for the box squat


(4:00pm) = Extra work on the reverse hyper, glute ham raise and abdominals


(5:00pm) = Recovery sled work


(8:30am) = Recovery sled work, feeder work on the reverse hyper and

extra abdominal work


(8:30am) = Dynamic Effort Training for the bench press


type of training takes years to build up to, of course, but I wanted to show

you that increasing your work capacity is needed to reach the next level. For

most guys wanting to train with the Westside system, the four main training

days will be plenty.

"Do you ever lose your squat groove when doing only box

squats in training?"


do have some lifters who look terrible on the box, yet go to a meet and look

great, but the benefits of the box squat are numerous. Box squats develop eccentric

and concentric power by breaking the eccentric-concentric chain and by going

from a static position to a dynamic one.


box squat is the best way to teach proper form on the squat because it’s

easy to sit back while pushing your knees out. Most lifters have a difficult

time sitting back far enough to isolate the hamstrings and glutes during the

squat motion. The reason for this is simple — weak hams and glutes. Most

athletes have been taught to squat using mostly their quads. In our opinion,

this is wrong because the strength potential of the hips and hamstrings outweigh

the potential of the quads.


I moved to Columbus to train with Louie, I was also a quad squatter and had

worked my way up to a 760-pound squat. I was happy with this but was also stuck

between 730 and 760 for five years. I knew I needed a change. The first

thing I was told to do was move my stance out and sit back farther by pushing

my hips out first, then bending my knees. This change over the next six months

reduced my squat by 30 pounds. My problem was that my hips and hamstrings

were so far behind my quads that it was going to take longer than I’d expected,

but over the next five years my squat jumped to 935.


how to perform box squats:


take the bar out of the rack, the hands must be evenly placed on the bar. Secure

the bar on the back where it feels the most comfortable. To lift the bar out

of the rack, one must push evenly with the legs, arch the back, push your abs

out against the belt, and lift the chest up while driving the head back. A high

chest will ensure the bar rests as far back as possible. Slide one foot back,

then the other, to assume a position to squat. Set your feet up in a wide stance

and point your toes straight ahead or slightly outward. Also, keep your elbows

pulled under the bar to ensure tightness in the upper back.


you’re ready for the decent, make sure to keep the same arched back position.

Pull your shoulder blades together and pull as much air into your stomach as

possible. Again, push your abs out. You’ll maintain this tightness throughout

the set. To begin the descent, push your hips back and push your knees

out to the sides to ensure maximum hip involvement. Once you reach the

box, you need to sit on it and release the hip flexors while keeping the back

arched and abs pushed out. At the same time, drive your knees out to the side.


begin the ascent, keep pushing out on the belt, arch the back as much as possible,

and drive the head, chest, and shoulders to the rear. If you push with the legs

first your buttocks will raise first, forcing the bar over the knees and causing

stress to the lower back and knees, thus diminishing the power of the squat.

You need to keep the barbell in a direct line with the heels throughout the

entire movement and this can only be done by keeping your back arched.


a final note, many lifters freak out when the box is taken away. Because of

this, they go back to sitting straight down instead of sitting back. Don’t

let this happen to you; make sure to squat how you’ve been trained to squat

and you won’t have this problem. If you squat 10,000 times on a box at

the same height with the same form, then squatting without the box is automatic.

The movement becomes instinctive and our lifters have no problem hitting slightly

below parallel in a meet.


Westside, the only type of squat we ever perform is the box squat. We never

perform a free squat until the competition. By using the box squat with many

other special exercises, we’ve created two 1000-pound squatters, eight

900-pound squatters and twenty-three 800-pound squatters. We don’t have

records for any squats lower than that because almost anybody can squat 700

pounds, including you!

"How should I train my box squats?"


been getting tons of questions about the various types of squat cycles. Rather

than just writing one cycle, I’ve decided to make an easy to follow quasi-article

that contains all the different cycles for the squat that I’ve used with

success. The first cycles will be for the Dynamic Effort squat without chains

and bands; the second group will be with chains, and the last group will be

with bands. We’ve found that training with bands is the most effective

way to train the squat. I’d recommend that everyone use bands all year

round in some form or another.


note about the percentages: These are taken off a contest squat with

equipment. So if you’re lifting off a raw or no-equipment max, then add

5 to 10% to all the percentages listed.

Squat without chains and bands


ago, I’d have recommended a four week squat wave, but after the success

we’ve had with band training I feel a three week wave would be the most

efficient. I also believe there needs to be slightly different percentages based

on the motor control of the athlete. This control is based on years of training,

not the status of the athlete. For example, a beginner would have one to three

years of training, the intermediate three to five years, and the advanced lifter

over five years. The reason for this is quite simple: the more advanced athlete

knows how to use his body more efficiently than the beginner and gets more out

of a smaller percentage.

Week 1: 63% for 10 sets of 2 reps

Week 2: 65% for 10 sets of 2 reps

Week 3: 68% for 10 sets of 2 reps


notice the beginner has a couple more sets than the advanced and intermediate

lifter. This is to improve the form of the lifter. The main goal of the beginner

is to have perfect form, so in many cases ten sets still won’t be enough

and should be taken as high as twelve sets.

Week 1: 60% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Week 2: 63% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Week 3: 65% for 8 sets of 2 reps


Week 1: 55% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Week 2: 58% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Week 3: 60% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Squatting with Chains


Week 1: 63% for 10 sets of 2 reps

Week 2: 65% for 10 sets of 2 reps

Week 3: 68% for 10 sets of 2 reps


to six reps over the three weeks must be above training percent. This

is done in addition to the regular sets.


Week 1: 60% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Week 2: 63% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Week 3: 65% for 8 sets of 2 reps


to six reps over the three weeks must be above training percent. This is done

in addition to the regular sets.


Week 1: 55% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Week 2: 58% for 8 sets of 2 reps

Week 3: 60% for 8 sets of 2 reps


to six reps over the three weeks must be above training percent. This is done

in addition to the regular sets.

Recommended Chains for Squatting

Squat Max 200-400 Pounds = 60 pound chain

Squat Max 400-500 Pounds = 80 pound chain

Squat Max 500-600 Pounds = 100 pound chain

Squat Max 700-800 Pounds = 120 pound chain

Squat Max 800-900 Pounds = 160 pound chain


chains are added on to the weight of the barbell. Make sure to warm up with

the chains on the bar first, then add the weights. When the barbell is in the

rack, four to five links of chain should be resting on the floor. At no point

in time should all of the chain be off the floor during the squat.

Squat Cycles with Bands


cycles are only for the intermediate and advanced lifters. The beginners would

be better off sticking with straight weight or chains. If the beginner would

like to use bands with his squat, then I’d suggest keeping the tension

minimal and reducing the training loads by 10%


Training Phase (or Strength Speed):

Week 1: 47% (RG Band) 8 sets of 2

Week 2: 51% (RG Band) 8 sets of 2

Week 3: 53% (RG band) 8 sets of 2


to six reps over the three weeks must be above training percent. This is done

in addition to the regular sets.


phase should be the core of your training and can be "waved" one after another.

For better results, it would be best to mix in one of the Speed Strength phases

after every couple of regular phases.


Strength Phase A:

Week 1: 15% (SS Band) 5 sets of 2

Week 2: 20% (SS Band) 5 sets of 2

Week 3: 25% (SS band) 5 sets of 2


to five reps over the three weeks must be above training percent.


is a great phase for those who’ve never been through a speed strength phase

before. It lasts three weeks, with the first one being an introduction week

to get used to the higher band tension. You’ll also notice the number of

sets has been reduced because of the high physical demand on the body. After

one or two times through this phase, you’ll never need to use it again

because of the body’s adaptation process. Once the body has learned to

adapt to the band tension with the three-week phase, it’s best to stick

with phase B or C.


a speed strength phase will cause the barbell to move very slowly, so you must

always follow a slow phase with a fast phase. As a final note, make sure the

bands are very tight in the bottom position.


Strength Phase B:

Week 1: 20% (SS Band) 5 sets of 2

Week 2: 25% (SS Band) 3-5 sets of 2, after sets work up

to 1RM


is the same phase as "A" except we’ve taken out the first week. The other

notable difference is in week two. After completing three to five sets you’ll

want to start increasing the weight until you get to a one rep max. By the time

you get to the last set (your max), you’ll feel like your head is going

to pop off. This is how you’ll know you’re doing it right!


Strength Phase C:
Week 1: 25% (SS Band, plus more as needed) 2-3 sets of

2 then work up to a 1RM


phase is designed for those who have a lot of experience with bands. Basically,

you want to pile on as much band as you can handle and start working up to 25%

for a few sets of two, then head up to a one rep max. This phase is not for

the weak at heart!



Week 1: 47% (CM Band) 5 sets of 2

Week 2: 51% (CM Band) 5 sets of 2

Week 3: 53% (CM Band) 5 sets of 2

Week 4: 47% (CM Band) 5 sets of 2


to five reps over the three weeks must be above training percent.


phase is designed for pre-contest or pre-max training. This phase, along with

the following de-loading phase, has been responsible for more personal records

being crushed by a huge margin than any other training phase I’ve seen,

including at least ten 900-pound squats.



Week 1: 53% (RG Band) 5 sets of 2

Week 2: 47% (RG Band) 5 sets of 2

Week 3: Meet or Test Date


de-loading phase is designed to bring the speed back into the training before

the max attempt or competition. This phase is a must after the circa-maximal

phase. Some have done very well with a two week de-load while others only like

to do one week. If your choice is a one week de-load, then drop the first week

of the phase.


Bands for Squat Training Phases:



RG Band: Pink

SS Band: Blue

CM Band: Green


RG Band: Green

SS Band: Blue Green

CM Band: Blue Pink


RG Band: Blue

SS Band: Blue Green

CM Band: Blue Green


in mind, for the bands to work properly, you must have tension at the bottom!


your squat training you should hit the hamstrings, abdominals and reverse hypers,

then call it a day. As you remember from the other articles, a max effort day

should be performed later in the week to complement the dynamic effort work.


you have all the info needed to reach that 700, 800, or even 900 pound squat.

But remember, knowledge isn’t power, but rather the application

of knowledge is power. Now get to the gym and apply it!

Note: To order chains, contact Toppers at

To order bands contact Jump Stretch Inc. at 800-344-3539.


you'd like to get more info from Dave Tate about consultations or products,

you can contact him at

For more info on Dave’s seminars, check out the "seminars"

section of Testosterone or visit his web site at

Dave Tate is the founder and CEO of Elitefts and the author of Under The Bar. Dave has been involved in powerlifting for over three decades as a coach, consultant and business owner. He has logged more than 10,000 hours coaching professional, elite, and novice athletes, as well as professional strength coaches. Follow Dave Tate on Facebook