6 Weeks of a Westside Template Program

Written by: Kevin Cann

About a month ago I decided to switch up my training a bit.  I was getting burnt-out coaching.  I do not think people realize how difficult this can be sometimes.  You shoulder the burdens of an entire team.  This can weigh heavily on you at times.

My training had been going poorly for quite some time up to this point and I knew I needed to make some adjustments to get some momentum back and to start getting myself to do the things necessary to get better in the gym.  I have been lifting for too long to just show up and expect to see results.  At this point it requires more than just showing up.

I knew I needed to get my head right and get that commitment back in my training.  At this point the program doesn’t matter.  Being burnt-out, the last thing that I wanted to do was write my own programs and analyze my lifts.  I decided to save that mental energy, run a template program, and start getting the intangibles right before I worried about a specific exercise to do.

I grabbed a Westside template and just decided to run that for now.  I decided to write the training in an old school journal just like I used to as well.  The goal of each day was to come in and commit to the daily training, give my best effort, and make good decisions.

The first wave I did not change one thing at all.  I just ran it as is.  I had gone to Westside and lifted with them for a few days.  It was tough training, but there was also a lot of energy and a lot of adrenaline coming from me.  That dynamic effort lower day is really fucking hard.  I quickly learned that I allowed by work capacity to drop off quite a bit.  This would make sense with the drop in performance that I was seeing.  I pay attention to these things, but sometimes we only see what we want to see, and we explain our decision to not push harder in a logical way.

Just creating some space between my emotions and my programming allowed me to identify a big weakness.  I also am learning quite a bit.  This was actually pretty unexpected as I have read the Book of Methods and spent a whole weekend talking training and lifting with Louie.  However, doing it for 6 weeks so far, there is a flow to it.  The max effort lifts seemed to be rotated in a way that each week compliments the previous week.

In our programs, we keep the same exercise in for max effort for the whole block.  You can improve performance in the same lift for about 2 weeks and then you will see a stagnation and decline.  We just throw reps in between to push it out for 3 weeks.  Week 4 is some comp lift practice with low volumes at 80%.  I like the focus being on one thing.  I do not feel the rotation that I have been doing now is much different.  The exercises tend to focus on one thing as well, just using different variations each week to do that.  I found this very interesting and surprising even though I should not have been surprised as it makes perfect sense.

Another thing this process identified for me was that I was trying to force too many things.  I was trying to do too much because things were not going well.  I just began to dig myself deeper holes in training and couldn’t understand why things continued to move in the wrong direction.  I am spending less tie in the gym now than I was before (minus the dynamic lower day).

Last week I finally started to see the daylight and began crawling out of the hole that I dug myself.  I hit my first bench PR on a variation in 4 months and there was a little room for more.  My squat numbers are starting to trend up as well.  I haven’t really deadlifted too heavy as this can be very taxing and is unnecessary right now.  I am slowly increasing the loads on the dynamic effort deadlifts and keeping them at singles.

I can feel my work capacity increasing.  The first 3 weeks were brutal, but it has started to get a bit better.  I am adjusting the program just slightly to attack some weaknesses of mine now.  Over time I will continue this trend of making adjustments until I am back in the driver’s seat of my program, but in a better headspace to make decisions, and also in a better routine of committing to training.

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