Lifting West Coast Style (Conju-periodization) Part 1 The Basics
 Written by Robert Forney ISSA CFT 

Revised 10/29/02

     Every day a new workout program pops up promising amazing results. Some are more complex than others and some are plain stupid. I have tried many different programs and found some to work better than others. My workout partners and I have been studying many different routines, and we picked out what made sense scientifically to us and created what is called the west coast workout or the conju-periodization routine. This is the first time we have published our routine for others to use. We are constantly refining this routine, so check back for updates.

     This is part 1 to a series of articles on the topic. In this first part we will cover the basics of the program. First off, I will tell you straight up that we borrowed many of the techniques used in the program from the Westside style. Although there are some similarities, there are also many differences that make this program unique. The West Coast routine can be tailored for powerlifting, bodybuilding, or any other fitness or sports related goal. So lets get to the meat and taters of the program. 

     The reason we call our routine the west coast routine is because we live on the west coast of course. The routine is really a conjugate-periodization routine, since we use both concepts in it. You must tailor this program for your needs, this is not a cut and paste routine. 

The Basics of West Coast: 

  1. One max speed day and one high intensity day every week 
  2. On max speed day, cycle between 50% and 60% of 1rm 
  3. On max speed day we alternate every week between doing explosive bench press and explosive bench with bands (or no bands) press with a pause. 
  4. We do max speed work for the bench press, squat, and deadlift and some assistance exercises.
  5. On high intensity days use between 1 and 5 reps for high intensity semi-functional lifts. Reps depend on the exercise.
  6. One specificity lift for bench, squats and deadlifts. 
  7. One semi-functional exercise after the specificity lift. 
  8. Change semi-functional exercises every two to three weeks.
  9. For Assistance exercises, perform 10,8,5 reps, changing reps every two weeks.
  10. Change assistance exercises after each cycle. Each cycle lasts 10 weeks. 
  11. Max out every 10 weeks on the core lifts.

The basics in detail 

The Specificity Lifts (West Coast): 

On high intensity day, we do 1 set of 1 rep between 90% - 100% for bench and 80% - 100% for deadlifts of our 1 rep max. We use a range for figuring out how much to lift. For the bench press, for the first four weeks we will lift between 90% - 95% and for the next 4 weeks we perform between 95% - 100%. For squats and deadlift we will use a range between 80% - 90% for 4 weeks and then 90% - 100% for the next four weeks. We shoot for a weight within the range that feels comfortable and fairly easy to work with. This gives us the ability to choose a weight depending on how we feel that day . We perform this lift first, and then we go ahead and perform our high intensity lift, and then our assistant exercises. We do not consider this an exercise for the muscles, but more of an exercise for the nervous system. For the squat and deadlift, we alternate every week the specificity lift.

When performing the specificity lift, you should be able perform the lift fairly easy and with good form. Of course as the intensity gets higher, the lifts will become harder to perform..

The Core Lifts: 

The core lifts are the Bench Press, Squat, and the Deadlift. You can also tailor this program to fit your general needs. 

Semi-Functional Lifts: 

Semi-functional lifts are those that closely resemble the core lifts. For example, the incline bench press is a semi-functional lift as it pertains to the bench press. The only REAL functional lift for the bench press is the bench press. So we call all exercises that are closely related to the core lifts semi-functional lifts. Bench semi-functional exercises: 

  1. Decline bench press 
  2. Bench lock outs 
  3. Towel Bench 
  4. etc 

Assistance Exercises: 

Assistance exercises are all those that work on trying to isolate certain muscles, which compliment the core lifts or bring up the GPP, such as barbell rows, close grip bench press, etc. In addition, the assistance lifts are used to help bring up lagging muscles. Change the reps every 2 weeks with the following progression: 10,8,5,8,10.

The Recovery Weeks: 

The idea of the recovery week is to provoke delayed transformation of training load and to prevent injuries and to  prevent over training. During this week or weeks, we only perform the core lifts using 70% of our max for those lifts. These recovery weeks are optional depending on how you feel. If you feel strong, you don't need a recovery week, but if you are feeling burnt out, take a recovery week to get out of the loop. 

On a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday split, the recovery week would look like the following: 

Monday: Specificity Bench Lift - 90% - 95% for 2 sets. 10 - 20 sets of 70% of max for 1 - 5 reps. 

Wednesday: Specificity Squat and Deadlift: - 90 - 95% for 2 sets. 10 - 20 sets of 70% of max lifts for 1 - 5 reps. 

Friday: Flat Bench Press:10 - 20 sets of 60% 

Saturday: Squats and Deadlifts: 10 - 20 Sets of 60% 

The Training Split: 

This is just an example of how you can arrange your training. 

Monday: Max speed bench press, Triceps, Shoulders, Upper Back 

Tuesday: Max speed box squats and deadlifts (Squats and Deadlifts), Calves, Abs 

Thursday: High intensity Chest (bench press), Triceps, Shoulders, Upper Back

Friday: High intensity dead lifts and squats, Calves, Lower Back, Abs 

Stay Tuned for Part 2, which will cover max speed and high intensity days.