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Westside Barbell Speed Bench Day by Louie Simmons - CrossFit Journal

In HD Videos, Powerlifting

November 20, 2011

Video Article

“This is a perfect workout for sports,” says Louie Simmons, owner of Westside Barbell in Columbus, Ohio. “The volume is going to be extremely high and the intensity zone extremely low—about 40-45 percent.”

The speed bench-press workout consists of 16 sets of 3 reps using 185 lb. on the bar and 85 lb. of bands at the top of the lift. Lifters press every 30 seconds for 4 sets, then rest 1 minute and repeat. The sets are performed using different grip positions. Powerlifter John Kerr demonstrates the proper technique.

Simmons points out some coaching points, including that the bar should travel in a straight line to the chest.

“That eliminates injuries and utilizes the triceps and upper back,” he says.

Another coaching point is in the speed of the movement: “No slow eccentrics. Always lower barbells fast—sets the stretch reflex up,” Simmons says. “As you increase velocity, not mass, you increase kinetic energy. That’s what we’re after.”

Simmons also emphasizes midline stabilization and says the goal is to develop explosive power.

“Explosive power is shown in the fastest increase in strength in the shortest possible time,” he says. “You have to remain explosive in a fatigued state in sports.”

After coaching Kerr through a speed bench-press workout, Simmons has his athletes demonstrate accessory movements like dumbbell bench press, which develop power and help to avoid overtraining.

7min 39sec

HD file size: 201 MB
SD wmv file size: 94.9 MB
SD mov file size: 83.6 MB

Please note: These files are larger than normal Journal videos. For smoother viewing, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: The Westside Conjugate System by Louie Simmons, published June 22, 2011.

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21 Comments on “Westside Barbell Speed Bench Day”


wrote …

Great stuff again.
It's rather interesting that before Louie came along a lot of his methods seem counterintuitive for powerlifting.

Powerlifters are known for low rep work but all the assistance work is done for higher reps (shown in this workout).

Also using submaximal weights on dynamic day as opposed to going with heavy weights all the time--and I know they hit the maximal weights weekly too, but hitting strenght from another part of the strength curve makes a lot of sense.

Finally, interesting that he wants them to be explosive when fatigued, despite the fact that powerlifters usually don't perform in a fatigued state.


wrote …

Great video from Louie as always. I feel obligated to send him a stopwatch so he doesn't have to take the clock off the wall everytime! :)


wrote …

You always get the meat of different kinds of programing but rarely do you get the assistance work spelled out with that level of detail, along w/ examples and explanations. Really cool video.


Frank DiMeo wrote …

Very clear and helpful, thanks Louie!


wrote …

I'm still pretty new to all of this, but I did recently get my level 1 cert. Any idea how a CF Journal video is showing machines/isolation movements? What is the logic behind this? Isn't the point of all of Crossfit anti-isolation and anti-machine?

This may sound dumb, but I am just trying to constantly learn....


wrote …

The idea is to learn from the best and incorporate the best methods into the program, even if the best means machines/isolation movements. If something is proven to work, it would be very shortsighted to eliminate it just because it doesn't seem crossfit-enough.


wrote …


If you want to bench the maximum amount of weight, as a powerlifter does, you should include some assistance exercises that will target and potentially improve parts of the lift. In this case, the lifter is doing lots of arm work to help the lockout.

For Crossfiter's not terribly interested in maximizing any particular lift, it wouldn't make sense. It just depends on your goals.

One exception would be if you're bad at holding lockouts on benching, presses, push presses, jerks, and hand-stand push-ups, there may be room in your training for some arm work! :)

Chris Moore


wrote …

Great video and helpful. Thank you.


wrote …

How does high rep dumbbell bench press prevent overtraining?


replied to comment from Jordan Derksen

Because they're not performed until muscle failure! The high rep dumbbell press they are doing are with sub rep max weight and with more speed and control that hypertrophy training is done or your WOD push-ups are done too:P


wrote …

Well, actually, that dumbbell work is often taken to concentric failure or very close. The idea is it helps add volume to the workout without taxing the CNS like high intensity training does. So, you are getting in more volume but not overtraining. In addition, the blood flow encouraged by the higher reps is felt to have somewhat of a restorative effect.

CrossFitters can and should train their arms in isolation in order to help increase their press. Max overhead pressing is part of CrossFit as is pressing for reps.


wrote …

Love the video


wrote …

We need more videos from Louie.


wrote …


Thanks as always for the 411... Defiantly going to incorporate this into my S-Wods.


wrote …

Very interesting...thank you all for the insight!


wrote …

The bench presser Louie put through the routine did not appear to be locking his elbows in every rep. It was more evident in his dumbbell sets than in the rapid benching.

Louie pointed out that it's the tricep region nearest the elbow that's most important during benching, and later in the video we saw all of the extension exercises that trained that last bit of the range of motion.

Why not bench press each rep to full extension? Is that to avoid injury? It was all pretty fast. Was he just shortcutting for the sake of speed?
Yes, I know it's merely the lockout, the least of one's troubles on a heavy, heavy lift, but where do you draw the line on what's acceptable? Despite all the additional strength work, is there not some neurological danger, as in the brain learning to disengage from a lift before it's really done?

(I guess not, since they're all showing great results, but it'd be interesting to hear the rationale.)


Zach Even - Esh wrote …

I agree with Chris mason, we actually have our athletes hit the arms 2 x week, the stronger arms helps with all push ups, pull ups, bench, military, rope climbs, etc

I can never get tired of these videos from westside

If anyone missed it, Lou has a new power DVD out and it's awesome, check it fo shoo

Lookin forward to seeing more work from westside

Thnx, homes



wrote …

That was Flipin awesome


wrote …

Those are powerlifting tricep extensions, not bodybuilding tricep extensions. The former is functional, the latter will do nothing to get you to elite-level fitness.


replied to comment from Zachariah White

Point of CrossFit isn't anti-isolation and anti-machine movement. Point is to become better, faster and stronger (and healthier etc.). And if isolation is the way, why not.
If machines should become part of your armory, why not. Point it to become better and if moving high load for long distance somehow, for some reason doesn't work, try something else or supplement it for a while.
Note that WB guys are strong as hell but they don't work isolation only. Or machine only. Or barbell only. They do both.


wrote …

What kind of bench was he using and where can I get one?

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