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Louie Simmons on the Conjugate System: Part 5 by Louie Simmons - CrossFit Journal

In Coaching, Powerlifting, Videos

January 15, 2011

Video Article

In the fifth installment of this series, Louie Simmons talks about how slowly increasing volume affects training.

According to Simmons, the percentages he uses on dynamic-effort day are critical because they ensure the athlete is doing exactly the right amount of work. If the volume is not high enough, performance will not be maintained, and if the volume is too high, the athlete will experience a similar decline.

“I’ve got this data,” Simmons says. “I know what it take to squat eight (hundred), nine (hundred), 1,000.”

Simmons also explains that strength is more complicated than you might think and includes explosive strength, speed strength and strength speed—all of which are directly related to bar speed.

Of course, Simmons laces the entire discussion with his humorous observations, including this gem:

“You can’t be too good looking, you can’t be too rich, and you can’t be too strong.”

10min 19sec

Additional video: Unleash Your Power by Mike Warkentin, published Jan. 20, 2010.

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16 Comments on “Louie Simmons on the Conjugate System: Part 5”


wrote …

Love to hear him speak. I'm getting his book The Westside Barbell Book of Methods. Want to know more!


wrote …

"The Westside Barbell Book of Methods" is by far the best book I've read on getting stronger. What are you waiting for? Buy this book asap and get stronger!

Thanks Louie. Westside Rules!


wrote …

Another fun clip. Great stuff. I think I understand the nuts and the bolts of his program but still have some questions regarding the "why's?".

He discusses that as absolute strength increases the weights on speed day increases, that makes sense to me. But why are they always equal? In another words, if one advances their absolute strength so high, will there be a point where doing 8-12 speed sets will impact recovery too much or where doing ME days weekly will be too often?

Instead of keeping the sets and reps the same as one advances why not alter the number of sets or reps? I'm not saying its better, I just wonder what the why is, and it might just be Louie's experience, which completely dwarf's mine.

Also, why not use speed to measure when to increase dynamic day instead of absolute strength? If I could measure my bench speed, if it keeps going up or in the optimal zone, should I add weight and build from there? Obvious problem, might be measuring speed.


Rob McBee wrote …

Wow! Thank you Louie. I learn more with each video. I can't wait for my copy of "...Methods" to get here. This approach really seems to be a great fit with CF methods, constant variance being the most obvious IMO.

Thought provoking stuff on the speed of lifts. Seems to blow a hole in the tempo theory of slow eccentrics, if I'm understanding correctly.


wrote …

"The only thing I know how to run is my mouth."



wrote …

Im not even sure he's speaking in English. I keep trying to watch these videos but something about his stream of thought makes me feel like im in the desert speaking with Jim Morrison. Louie is the Lizard King.


wrote …

there is a measuring device that yu can clip on a bar to measure the speed of the lift.

i forget the name, but you can google it up.


wrote …

What I've picked up is that a minimum volume must be met on speed days to increase speed strength, which will increase max strength. Total volume is in proportion to max effort lift. Take ME squat * 60% * 10 sets @ 2 reps. Rest 30-120 seconds between sets with the goal being bar velocity. Now figuring out weight to band ratios is beyond me. Seems like people use varying amounts, including band resistance on ME days as well. My question is do they not calculate volume on assistance exercises? Doing Westside sacrifices metcon, so I am unable to follow whole heartedly. I prefer more of a strength bias type system, but I rotate more exercises for ME lifts, and limit the frequency of ME lifts to no more than 3x per week. I have had steady improvement in all lifts and metcons for more than 5 months.


wrote …

Louie is hard for me to understand, I have had to to listen to the videos multiple times and combine them with the other videos and his writings to fully understand the concepts.

It seems to me like he has so much information in his head that he has a hard time staying on one subject.

Rip is much better at explaining concepts to novices.

I tell people you could open up SSBBT wondering "What's a barbell ?" and by the time you're done reading you'll know exactly what you're doing.

Craig D, you are thinking of a Tendo unit. They cost about $1,500.


wrote …

Louie is like the powerlifting rain man the way he can rattle those numbers off. Good video though.


Robert, a good way to measure speed on a dynamic day is with a stopwatch. Say you're doing 2 or 3 reps of bench at 60%. On your first (and freshest set) have a partner measure the time it takes to do them (lets say 3.5 sec). Keep going on your 10-12 sets as long as your time tays within 10% or so of that speed (stop if your time goes above 3.9sec). The next time you have a dynamic bench day, see if you can add weight and still hit that time mark. If you can add another 10lbs and still get 3 reps in in 3.5 sec than that's your new weight.


wrote …

so between his articles (which i actually had to break out with a calculator after reading 5 different times) and this, here's what I've taken away. Please feel free to correct/update this since some of his articles are a bit older and he may have tweaked his approach

Take your max squat and multiply it by 12. This is your target volume. (100kg x 12 = 1200)

The one caveat I'll throw into this is that i'm stil unsure whether band tension is included in what you count to hit your 1200kgs.

now for DYNAMIC day, you are trying to move 1200 kgs total for your speed squat.
1 week @ 50% - 10-12 sets x 2 reps x 50kgs = 1000-1200 kgs moved. add in bands accordingly that equal about 20% of weight on bar at the bottom of the squat and adjust sets accordingly so that you hit close to 1200kgs.

2nd week @ 55% - 10-12 sets x 2 reps x 55 kgs = 1100-1320 kgs moved. so you should probably stick to 10 sets x 2 reps and throw on ~ 20% band tension at the bottom.

3rd week @ 60% - you have to adjust down the sets again.
3rd week @ 60% - 8-10 sets x 2 reps x 60kgs = 960-1200 kgs moved. Add on bands accordingly.


replied to comment from Doug Lantz

I gotta agree with Doug. Louie talks so fast and with so little structure that I feel like I'm not getting the full benefit. I usually have to watch his videos several times to get a few gems and I still don't have a good enough understanding of the conjugate system to do any programming for myself.

Maybe Tony Budding or some other HQ person could give him a hand with delivering his vast knowledge. For starters, I think Louie needs to dial back on rambling off numbers (weights) that his lifters accomplish. While I love to hear about what his guys can lift, I loose track of what he's talking about everytime he does it.



replied to comment from david henderson

Louie is a math guy. Any number he rattles off is an opportunity for you to break down what percentages he is using and what the point of the lift is then. ex) If he has an 800 lb squatter doing squats with ~400 lbs on the bar plus bands, you know he's probably at the beginning of a dynamic pendulum wave (cause there's 50% of squat max) and working on speed strength. If that same 800 lb squatter is doing work with 600~ on the bar (75%), it's probably part of a strength speed cycle. (I may have these backwards)

So to pull from the video example, when he's talking about that 1000 lb squatter doing doubles with 500 lbs weight and 100 lbs bands at teh bottom / 225 lbs bands at the top, you know that you should be putting 50% of the max weight on the bar and 10% of the max weight in bands at the bottom (for Dynamic day).

Honestly, I figured out the majority of the system by watching these videos and supplementing the gaps with a few articles off of westside's website. Learning takes work but the raw info is there. It's really cool stuff too. Have you checked out chris mason's article in the CFJ on the conjugate system? That is a great place to start if you want to program in some stuff while still doing WOD's.


replied to comment from Erich Anderson

and bugging the hell out of Chris Mason on the crossfit forums! Can't forget that resource!


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Thanks Louie!

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