Part 6-The Rules of Conjugate Training.
All of the previous weeks videos and blog posts have led us to this point. Finally we have dissected the Westside Method by utilizing the Critique of Westside video by Chad Wesley Smith and Dr. Mike Israetel, taken the "bad" of the Westside Method as it relates to geared powerlifters, and turned those "bad" things into good things for training athletes with a conjugate method.
In today's blog and video, we are going to start to outline the rules of a good conjugate method for athletes. I want you to use these rules as your backbone, your structure, for creating your own conjugate system for your athletes and your team.
Remember, the Conjugate Method is just that...a METHOD. This is not going to be a cookie cutter program that you follow along with day after day. This is a system that you can create, adjust, tweak, and modify based around the athletes you are working with, the length of your season, the equipment that you have available to you, and how often you can get in the weight room every week.
So here we go. Check out the video below to learn more about the rules of a good conjugate system and how you can start to implement these rules when writing your own conjugate method for your athletes.
So as you just watched, there are a lot of rules that come in to play when setting up a conjugate method for your athletes and your team. But here's the thing...you already do most of these anyway! You already adjust exercises for athletes with different strengths and weaknesses (I hope). You already adjust sets and reps for your beginner and advanced athletes. You already know that during the season you need to try and peak and that during the off-season you need to build size and strength.
All we are doing here is outlining the positives of the program and making sure you know what the positives are so you can check that box off your list when designing your conjugate method.
The main points that must happen to be a good conjugate system:
Two max effort days in the weight room every week
Two dynamic/explosive days out at the track every week.
Assistance movements after your max effort movements should be higher volume to build size and strength.
All of these exercises will be adjusted to fit the level of your athletes.
Work your ME days around meets and put them earlier in the week.
Create testing exercises to make sure your athletes are actually getting stronger.
Use heavy weight and a lot of effort on ME days.
This will vary depending on the level of athlete. Could be a 3 rep max bench press or a set of 10 pushups!
All exercises will be done with a full range of motion. No boards, high boxes, no accommodating resistance.
Never push over 95% in-season. Never fail a lift. Maybe your athlete wanted a 300 pound bench but 280 looked tough. It's ok to call it right there.
Variations in exercises should have only one difference from the tester. Make it the same exercise but add in a pause, a box, a wide stance, a different bar. Just one difference.
Work in phases. Summer is for size. Fall is for strength. The season is for getting faster and peaking.
Repetition Effort (RE) exercises after your ME variation should be exercises that correct weakness and will be done with higher reps compared to the max effort work.
Choose exercises that have an easy, a medium, and a hard variation. A tricep extension is a great example. Beginners might use a band for 25 reps. Intermediate athletes might use a cable system for 15 reps. Advanced athletes might do a skull crusher or a JM Press.
After the main movement of the ME day, you should only have 3-4 accessory movements for RE training. Don't spend all day in the weight room. Do the three RE accessory movements, get a good pump, get a good workout, and then get going home for the night!
Dynamic Effort (DE) sessions are dedicated sessions and should never be skipped.
Med balls, box jumps, hurdle hops, sprints, light and heavy implements, skipping, etc are great to do on DE days. No bands or chains and stay out of the weight room.
OK to put the DE lower and DE upper into the same day if the week is crazy and you have no time.
Change exercises weekly and keep it fun.
During the summer and fall off-season you can certainly program more weight room specific DE exercises because your athletes might have more time and opportunity to get in the weight room.
That does it. Don't try to get cute adjusting these rules or skipping over things to make it your own method. All you need to do is create a training program based around these rules, make sure to try to include everything listed above into your conjugate method, and your athletes will be in GREAT shape for their meets during the season.
-Coach Matt Ellis