“When lifters repeatedly use the same simple method of training to raise their strength level, they will eventually stall.”
-Louie Simmons

What does Louie know about strength training? Probably more than all us of combined. At his gym, Westside Barbell, he’s trained some of the strongest mofos out there. Dudes that total over 2,500 lbs.

The training system he uses is known as the Conjugate Method. Many of you have probably heard of it, in fact, it was the most popular request on the recent survey we sent out about programs you wanted to learn more about.

Well, you wanted it, so here it is… what follows are the basics for implementing the conjugate program on your own.

Ok, to start… none of this 6 or 7 days / week of training. Nope. They lift 4 days each week in an upper / lower split. It breaks out like this:

  • Lifting Day 1: Max Effort (ME) Lower Body (Squat / Dead)
  • Lifting Day 2: Max Effort (ME) Upper Body (Bench)
  • Lifting Day 3: Dynamic Effort (DE) Lower Body
  • Lifting Day 4: Dynamic Effort (DE) Upper Body

And no… those aren’t 4 consecutive days. There’s usually a rest day between days 1 & 2, between days 2 & 3 and after day 4. Also, there’s important lesson here… the strongest lifters in the world are only training 4 days / week!!!

Ok so let’s start with the ME Lower Body day. Show up. Pick squat, deadlift or some variation of one of them and work up to a 1 – 3 rep max on that movement.

On ME Upper Body day it’s the same drill. Build to a 1 – 3 rep max on your bench or bench variation.

Both of these are known as your primary movement for the day. You can take as much rest as you need building up to your max for the day. Also, when you repeat ME day next week… pick a different variation. If you do high bar 3RM back squat today, it should be at least a couple of months until you repeat it again. Maybe try a 3RM deficit deadlift next week, then a 1 RM low bar squat.

You get the picture.

After you finish, move on to ME accessory work. This is where the magic happens because it isn’t some generic template. No. You do accessory movements that target your specific weaknesses.

So, for example, if posterior is a problem for you, think about doing something like G/H raises.

No two people do the same accessory work. Figure out your weaknesses and conquer them. You do have to use that thing between your ears to get stronger.

Now on to dynamic day….

DE Lower Body day usually centers around some box squat variation. This movement is typically repeated for 8-12 sets with two repetitions at around 50% of your 1RM.

That’s right. The load is pretty frickin’ light. You’re not focusing on load today, you’re focusing on speed. This is an area that many power lifters neglect and as such, they leave a lot of strength on the table.

DE Upper Body day is very similar. It usually consists of 8-10 sets with 3 reps per set and again at about 50% of your 1RM. You’ll do bench variations. Think pin press, floor press, etc.

These are known as the primary movements on DE day. Unlike the ME primary movement, you’ll stick with this same movement for about 3 consecutive weeks, increasing the load a bit each week. Also, unlike ME day, rest periods are much shorter between sets, usually just around a minute.

After the primary movement, you’ll hit your accessory work. Similar to ME accessory work, your goal is to focus on your weaknesses. If you suck at it, it probably belongs in your accessory program.

The one difference on DE accessory movements over ME is that they tend to be higher in volume and lower in intensity. It makes sense right… max effort day is for intensity, dynamic is for volume. In society segregation is bad, in lifting it’s king.

Ok, there you have it, a basic overview of the conjugate system. A system that creates monsters. Sure, there is a lot more to it, but hopefully this write up got you to raise your eyebrow and maybe gave you some ideas of things to incorporate into your own training.

If you’ve stalled out with your current strength program, why not take Louie’s advice and add variation through his program. If you’re interested in learning more about conjugate, Louie has written extensively about it. Check out his book:

Westside Barbell Book of Methods

Alright, that’s it for today. Get started implementing some of these techniques in your training and you’ll be lifting heavier shit in no time flat.