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Barbell Club – 2022

Posted 16th January 2022 by Jenna Fisher

Barbell Club is going to start the year with a new format and a new challenge. This is your chance to experience a program similar to the Louie Simmons conjugate method.

Before I begin the explanation, a few things to note:

This class still fully welcomes beginners. BBC has always been very mixed in levels of experience so you will not be alone. It is the best place to get to grips with learning the squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press. You work at your own pace and have a spreadsheet to record the weight that you lift to help you to remember. The instructor will guide you through on a more 1-2-1 basis than the fast-paced conditioning classes and adjustments are made to the program to accommodate all beginners. You will do less weight and more reps on the max effort days so that you can safely focus on getting to grips with the standard movements. There is no need to worry about using the special equipment until you are ready to try it out. It can be daunting enough setting up a regular bar.

For everyone else, a note to manage expectations. Louie Simmons is a professional powerlifter. He trains professional powerlifters. You are not professional powerlifters (said in the nicest possible way). Nor am I. Doing this program (with our adjustments) will not magically give us a 600 lb squat. If done properly*, however, it should hopefully break your plateaus.

(*if you are trying to do a bit of Juggernaut, a bit of Wendler, a bit of Louie, a bit of CrossFit heroism alongside some part-time marathon running, then, needless to say, results will be limited).

Our gym is designed to be a weightlifting gym (Olympic lifts), not a powerlifting gym, so there will need to be some community spirit in sharing the special equipment. There are, of course, enough barbells and racks etc. for everyone. However, there are only one or two of the more specialised equipment so it will be first come first served. You will be rotating these exercises every few weeks and you will have a list to choose from to give plenty of options so it should all work out. If you get stuck you can ask your coach for help. I know quite a few people do the BBC program in open gym so this should work well.

Lastly, the program is BASED on Louie Simmon’s conjugate method. For the reasons above it is not exact. You need to visit the Westside Barbell Club for that. For anyone wishing to undertake it in a more precise manner, I recommend delving into Louie’s resources that are available to purchase online. For the rest of us in our class setting, it will be enough to have a new challenge that is adapted to suit our environment. At the least, it should break some personal records.

So let’s get started

I am going to drip feed the changes over the next couple of months so that you can get comfortable and glide into it without being overloaded with too much too soon.

The next two weeks will be a fact-finding mission i.e. Can you do a good morning to parallel with your bodyweight on the bar? If not, how high do the pins need to be? If yes, what is your 1RM good morning? Can you complete a GHR? If not unassisted, can you do one with a little help from a friend?  Do you know how to do a reverse hyper? A Zercher squat and a kneeling squat? A dimel deadlift, a side deadlift, a deadlift with the bar behind you, or with a band tied to the rig? Do you know how to perform movements with chains and bands? We have done most of these in the past but if you missed it, this is the time to learn. (NB: you will still complete a workout as well).

After these initial two weeks, the first phase will begin at the beginning of February.

There will be an equal focus on acceleration as there is on mass. Remember: force=mass x acceleration. We have encouraged both sides of the equation in the past but often people get obsessed with the mass. This year I hope to make the acceleration inescapable 🙂

The new format:

Day 1: Max day – squat and deadlift

Day 2: Max day – bench

Day 3: Speed day – squat and deadlift

Day 4: Speed day – bench

Remember that it takes 72 hours for large muscle groups to recover. 24 hours for small muscle groups.

Since many people are doing gym for general health and happiness whilst fitting it around demanding careers, there is no pressure to be exact. If the four days need to spill into a second week that is absolutely fine. The main thing to achieve is not doing the same large muscle group back to back. Allow as close to 72 hours for recovery as you can get.

For the accessory exercises, there will be a major focus on triceps strength, lats, and delts. For lower-body movements, the spinal erectors, hips, hamstrings, and glutes. Abs will be in every session. The aesthetics – pecs, quads and biceps – will feature less than before since they develop consequentially. That said, since BBC has been hypertrophy focussed in the past I will provide an add-on program for the people who want to do a party pump before the pub.

Tomorrow I will post your tasks for the next two weeks. I will follow that with the full training program for February. It will all make much more sense when you see it written in program format. It is very simple to follow once you know how to do the movements.

If you have any questions, do feel free to ask me: [email protected] 

This post is based on:

Simmons, L., (2007). “Westside Barbell Book of Methods”. E-book.