Louie Simmons

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Louie Simmons
Personal information
Born (1947-10-12) October 12, 1947 (age 74)
OccupationStrength and conditioning coach, Business owner
Country United States

Louis Simmons (born 12 October 1947) is a former American powerlifter and current strength coach.[1] He is noted for developing the Westside Conjugate method of training and applying it to powerlifting and other sports, as well as inventing several pieces of strength training equipment. Westside Barbell is a private, invitation-only, elite training facility in Columbus, Ohio that was created by Simmons.

Simmons has publicly defended the use of performance enhancing drugs to achieve strength goals and muscle growth,[2] including his own consistent use of anabolic steroids since 1970, stating for Joe Rogan in a 2016 podcast, "I went on anabolics January 1970. And so, what is this, 2016? I've never been off 'em."[3] "See it's not against the rules to take drugs. It's against the rules to get caught taking drugs."[4]

Simmons is one of only five lifters to total Elite in five different powerlifting weight classes. He totalled Elite in various power-lifting organizations.[5]

Powerlifting career[edit]

Simmons competed in powerlifting for over 50 years. He has achieved a 920 pounds (420 kg) squat, a 600 pounds (270 kg) bench press, and a 722 pounds (327 kg) deadlift over the age of 50 years. He has totaled Elite in five different weight classes over almost four decades.[6]

Coaching career[edit]

Despite Simmons' views on performance enhancing drugs,[7] Simmons' students in the sport of powerlifting continue to cite his methods as fundamental to their training long after they leave his gym.[8][9] Simmons has also worked as a strength consultant with collegiate and professional sports teams and his training methods are featured in the CrossFit Powerlifting certificate course.[10] His articles on training methods were a regular feature in the critically acclaimed magazine Powerlifting USA.[11] Simmons owns Westside Barbell, a private gym in Columbus, Ohio. Membership is by his invitation only.[12]

Westside Barbell methods[edit]

Louie has developed and popularized a system of training named after the Westside Barbell gym, sometimes referred to as the Conjugate Method.[13][14] The system is best known for its guidelines on exercise selection, periodization, and the use of resistance bands and chains in strength training. Simmons' method has been used to train athletes in a variety of sports reliant on strength development, including powerlifting, track and field,[15] combat sports,[16][17] and football.[18][19]

Simmons claims that he developed and invented special barbell exercises that are used to target weaknesses in the competition lifts.[20] Upper- and lower-body special exercises are rotated frequently (at least every three weeks) on the principle that training the same special exercise for too long will be counterproductive. The training system emphasizes the variety of special exercises. Different lifts can be performed, for example the good-morning instead of the squat. Competition lifts can be altered by increasing or decreasing the range of motion, such as squatting to a low or high box, performing partial range-of-motion bench presses, using wooden boards to shorten the stroke, or deadlifting from blocks or pins in a power cage. The conventional barbell can be replaced with specialty bars such as a cambered bar, safety squat bar, or Swiss bar.

The loading of special exercises is designed to simultaneously increase strength and speed every week.[13] Two "Max Effort" (ME) sessions a week, one each for the upper and lower body, require training with maximally heavy weights on the special exercises described above. Two "Dynamic Effort" (DE) sessions a week, again, one each for upper and lower body, call for training with sub-maximal weights but accelerating as much as possible in the upwards portion of the lift. By alternating ME and DE sessions, the conjugate sequence system is meant as an alternative to traditional Western periodization in strength training, in which only one quality, such as hypertrophy, speed, or strength, is developed in a given week. This is in opposition to the conjugate sequence system used by Soviet athletes which trains one main motor ability at a time while maintaining the rest.[21]

The most common template for this method revolves around three methods of weight training used in conjunction with one another. These three methods are:

  • Overcoming maximal resistance that causes maximal or near maximal muscle tension (maximal effort method).
  • Using considerably less than maximal resistance until fatigue causes one to fail (repeated effort method).
  • Using sub maximal weights accompanied by maximal speed (dynamic method).

Special equipment[edit]

In addition to developing special exercises, Simmons has also developed specialized equipment and machines to most efficiently and effectively build strength not achievable by commercial gym equipment. His most notable machine is the Reverse Hyper. A machine which is dedicated to the posterior chain.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ Barbell, Westside`. "What Is Westside Barbell". Archived from the original on 22 December 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  6. ^ Burgess, Phil. "Westside Barbell Methods - Louie Simmons - The Ultimate Strength System". Viking Strength.
  7. ^ [5]
  8. ^ Perrine, Stephen. "The Misfits of Muscle". Men's Health. Archived from the original on 2013-12-05. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  9. ^ DeVille, Chris. "A day in the life of powerlifter Brandon Lilly". Columbus Alive.
  10. ^ "CrossFit Powerlifting Trainer Course". Archived from the original on 2014-08-14. Retrieved 2013-10-29.
  11. ^ Simmons, Louie. "Raw Benching". Powerlifting USA.
  12. ^ Montana, Nelson (18 December 1998). "Mad Monk of Powerlifting: An Interview with Louie Simmons". T-Nation.
  13. ^ a b Simmons, Louie. "The Westside Conjugate System". CrossFit Journal.
  14. ^ Syatt, Jordan. "Starting Guide: Westside Barbell Training". Fitocracy.
  15. ^ Valenti, Mark. "Blood and Sand: Life in the Ludus". Long & Strong, December 2010.
  16. ^ Tigges, Jesse. "Q&A with boxing coach Rob Pilger". Columbus Alive.
  17. ^ Scott, Steve (2010). Conditioning for Combat Sports. Santa Fe, NM: Turtle Press.
  18. ^ "On Clemson's S&C Program And Our Problems with Batson". Shakin the Southland. 26 January 2012.
  19. ^ Clemson University. "2010 Clemson Football Media Guide" (PDF). p. 48. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-05-24.
  20. ^ Simmons, Louie. "More on the Conjugate Method: The Principle of Variety". Strength Online.
  21. ^ The special strength Training manual for Coaches Y. Verkhoshansky and The Science and Practice of Strength Training V.Zatsiorsky and Kraemer