Articles  >  Editorial
Strength, Bands & Staying in Your Lane
Greg Everett
October 10 2013

This is an article I’m regretting writing before I even start. One, because I know it will spur a bunch of time-consuming argument on the internet; two, because no matter what it will sound emotional; and three, because it feels a bit like trying to convince people that it makes more sense to eat with your hands than with your feet. I expect that the people who agree with what I’m going to say already agree with it, and those who disagree will keep on disagreeing, and probably like me even less than they do now—but I suppose I don’t particularly care. At the very least, it will serve as a personal catharsis and unburden me of these thoughts so I can get back to more important work.
Every so often, someone from the powerlifting or strength training world pops his head up and fires off a few shots into the weightlifting world (note right now that “weightlifting” refers specifically to the Olympic sport of the snatch and clean & jerk). These shots ricochet around the internet for a while, sparking little fires, and then eat up whatever short supply of fuel they have and die out. While they’re smoldering, however, they manage to excite a few people. This particular article was sparked by a recent interview with Louie Simmons that has been floating around the ether getting people worked into a lather either denouncing him or falling madly in love with him.
I’m warning you in advance that this article will be unfocused, incohesive and possibly offensive to a few individuals. My intention is not to insult anyone personally, but I also am not in any kind of mood to strain my capacity for diplomacy. To be clear, this article is not by any means meant to be disparaging of the sport of powerlifting or of powerlifters or powerlifting coaches. If powerlifting is your sport, that’s fantastic. I respect your hard work and your commitment to a sport. It’s not my sport and it’s well outside my wheelhouse, which is exactly why I don’t opine on powerlifting training methodology—I know what I don’t know. But to avoid confusion and preempt the results of the ubiquitous hypersensitivity of everyone on the internet, consider this the explicit disclaimer.
Deadlift & Clean Speed
In the interview in question, Simmons launches right away into this one: “If you look at Benni Magnussen deadlift 1014, the time from when he starts the bar until he stands erect, if you take the time of the largest clean, all right, in the world, take that time, the time he cleans and stands up, and you’ll be surprised that Benni stands up erect faster than he does.”
Right off the bat, this doesn’t even pass the laugh test. First, if we take this quote literally, he’s comparing the time of execution of one lifter standing erect in a deadlift, to another lifter standing erect, then pulling under the bar, then standing erect again. This is like saying a 50 meter sprinter ran 50 meters faster than a 100 meter sprinter ran 100 meters: No shit.
So let’s be generous and assume that he was making a comparison that’s actually logical and looking only at the time it took each lifter to lift the bar from the floor to an extended, standing position. Below are videos of Benedikt Magnusson deadlifting 1015 lbs and Leonid Taranenko clean & jerking 266 kg (586 lbs), the heaviest clean & jerk in weightlifting competition history, so presumably the one to which Simmons is referring.
Using my laboratory (YouTube and a stopwatch), I timed these two lifts to make sure I wasn’t insane before I proceeded with this part of the article. Taranenko catches the clean poorly and has to bounce a couple times in the bottom before he stands up. Obviously this increases the time of the lift dramatically. However, even with this struggle, he completes the clean, from the time he pulls the bar off the floor to the time he stands from the squat, in about 3.3 seconds. Magnusson’s deadlift from the time he pulls the bar from the floor to the time he locks it out? About 3.1 seconds. Forgive me if these times are not perfectly accurate. If you time them and get a couple fractions of a second difference, I’m not interested—it’s close enough for the purpose of this article.
So if we take Simmon’s quote literally, yes, Magnusson deadlifts faster than Taranenko cleans. But again, this comparison is nonsensical, and even with that illogical disparity in the two lifts, AND the error in Taranenko’s clean, the difference is pretty insignificant. If we time only Taranenko’s clean pull, we’re looking at 0.8 seconds—almost 4 times faster than Magnusson’s deadlift. Take a similarly heavy clean with an immediate recovery, and it would be faster than the deadlift. And more importantly, it doesn’t matter, because a comparison of a deadlift to a clean is meaningless.
If you want to continue arguing about the speeds of those two lifts, I forfeit, because there’s nothing else to be said.
We Don’t Have Qualified Coaches & We Believe in Only Technique and Speed Instead of Strength
Simmons explains that the reason the US doesn’t have any international elite weightlifters is because we don’t have any qualified coaches. He continues to say that where we go wrong is believing weightlifting is more about speed than strength, that US weightlifting coaches will tell you that strength doesn’t matter, just speed and technique.
Which weightlifting coaches is Simmons talking to? Which weightlifting gyms has he trained in or observed? I have literally never met a single weightlifting coach who says or believes that—not one. This “strength doesn’t matter” US weightlifting coach is a mythical creature created by a few specific powerlifters and powerlifting coaches to build their precarious arguments on.
Additionally, the resident coach at the Olympic training center since 2010 is Polish, not American, and trained and competed for Poland (all the way to the Olympics), was educated in Poland, and was the head coach of the Polish national team until he relocated to Colorado Springs in 2010. If the problem lay exclusively with American coaches and their lack of ability, we should be seeing a stunning disparity in athletes coached by Smalcerz compared to the rest—and it’s not there.
Presumably, Simmons and others would cite larger squat numbers by powerlifters than weightlifters to support this claim that weightlifters don’t care about strength. This is an entire article itself, but briefly, we’re talking about completely different animals; it’s akin to the deadlift:clean time comparison earlier. How about we compare the clean & jerk numbers of powerlifters and weightlifters? (I can already hear the fantastic tales of some powerlifter power cleaning some big weight the first time he ever tried it. Like I said, clean & jerk.)
Finally, weightlifting in the US is possibly one of the most stringently drug-tested sports in the country. All lifters are subject to testing at all national-level meets, and can be tested at any time out of competition. Our top ranked lifters are tested so frequently it becomes absurd at times. Residents at the Olympic training center have told me about being tested five times in a single month. We can’t even use many common cold medicines.
Now these athletes and the coaches who train them are being lectured about getting stronger by coaches and athletes who are not only competing in completely untested federations, but some of whom (such as Simmons) are vocal proponents of steroid use and openly admit to using them for their entire careers. I’m not objecting morally or ethically to this; it’s just laughable that this elephant in the room is conveniently ignored by the people riding it.
Until you’re a competitive weightlifter in a USADA-tested federation, or coach weightlifters who are, we can’t even have this conversation. It’s stunning to me how qualified so many people feel to comment on a sport with which they have no experience and consequently, a complete (and glaringly obvious to those who do) lack of understanding of it.
Further, it mystifies me why, when people point out that other countries are better than the US at weightlifting, the suggested solutions are nearly invariably to train in ways these other countries do not (such as using bands or low bar back squats). This again is such a clear example of the lack of understanding and rampant fantasies about what these elite weightlifters do in training.
How is it that powerlifting coaches who have never coached a weightlifter, been a weightlifter (I believe Simmons was a weightlifter when he was 14 years old; another who likes to criticize loudly has best snatch and clean & jerk numbers lower than some of my female lifters), observed the training of weightlifters, or seen the training programs of weightlifters know so much more about weightlifting than the people for whom the sport is their entire life for decades, who travel around the world to foreign weightlifting training centers and interact with the lifters and coaches, and who travel to the highest levels of weightlifting competition in the world, speaking with coaches and lifters from the most dominant countries and talking shop?
Interviewer: “You train any weightlifters ever?”
Louie Simmons: “No one’s ever sent someone qualified to come here to lift weights.”
That’s a convoluted way of saying no. It's also blaming everyone else for not proving him right. It seems to me that the burden of proof is on him, as it is for anyone who makes claims contrary to current thought or practice.

And then what comes next? The power clean tale!
Call me old-fashioned, but I have a hard time understanding anyone being confident in offering advice—and not just advice, but scathing criticism—in an area they admittedly have no experience in. He’s read the old Soviet training manuals? Neat, so have I and every other weightlifting coach in the US; we also coach weightlifters every day.
Weightlifters often snatch, clean and jerk a lot in training, and more so the closer they are to a major competition, and often more so the further along in their careers they are. Because these aren’t pure strength lifts like squats and deadlifts, this apparently leads some to believe we’re just training technique and don’t care about strength. I’ve addressed this in previous articles so I won’t go into great detail here, but suffice to say, believing that snatching and clean & jerking is only technique work is tantamount to saying you have no idea what you’re talking about.
It seems to be forgotten by many that the snatch and the clean & jerk have to actually be trained, and this is something you cannot genuinely understand without experience in the sport. In powerlifting, maybe you can go entire training cycles without doing the actual competition lift (such as the WSBB example of only box squatting in training; although it seems that more and more powerlifters and coaches recently are getting wise to the benefits of frequently training the competition lifts themselves), but the squat, deadlift and bench aren’t exactly technical lifts in comparison to the snatch and clean & jerk, and the amount of motor learning and reinforcement are minimal when compared to the Olympic lifts (If you’re squirming and yelling at your computer that the powerlifts ARE technically difficult, just stop reading because there is nothing I can say to help you understand—this is an issue of relative complexity, not a judgment of value). The elements of the Olympic lifts are intertwined in a way that demands the competition lifts be trained frequently and with great emphasis. Yes, it’s a strength sport, but not in the same straightforward manner that powerlifting is; to think the two sports should be trained for in the same way is unequivocally silly.
Bands on Cleans
Continuing with his disdain for every weightlifting coach in the US, Simmons proceeds to suggest that weightlifters should be using bands in their clean training. He says that one of the most important parts of the Olympic lifts is the squat under (Never heard any US weightlifting coach talk about that one before…), and that using band resistance will force lifters to pull under faster.
This is great in theory—yes, lifters need to move under the bar aggressively and rapidly. But bands are a terrible way to accomplish training this. I will gladly explain my reasoning in a brief numbered list:
1. Band resistance will change the speed, acceleration and timing of the movement. If you are a weightlifter, you understand how problematic this is. If you’re not, I don’t have the energy to repeat everything I’ve said already about the nature of the Olympic lifts. A deadlift or squat with accommodating resistance is a completely different story—all you do is continue trying to stand up until you can’t stand up anymore. Changes in speed or timing during that effort have no real effect on the movement until the point at which the resistance exceeds the athlete’s ability to move it. Of course if you’re looking for fancy terminology without the gadgets, you can use Dr. Fred Hatfield’s compensatory acceleration method—that is, accelerate as much as possible during the concentric phase of the lift (exactly what weightlifters should be doing and nearly always do in their squats anyway), which means more speed as mechanics improve, which keeps force and power high, as is the purpose of accommodating resistance.
2. Simmons says that in the Olympic lifts, there is a very rapid deceleration of the bar following the lifter’s upward extension, so the movement under the bar must be fast. Of course—this isn’t exactly news. However, in a clean or snatch, the deceleration to zero is not instantaneous, which is exactly what allows a lifter to move under the bar. Learning this timing is critical for successful lifts, and as I said in #1, bands change that timing and feel completely. Additionally, band resistance changes the behavior of the bar with regard to how it moves in the turnover in relation to the body (for example, it will be pulled primarily in the direction of the bands’ origins, which, depending on how the athlete has executed the lift to that point, may not be the direction in which it would naturally be inclined to move), meaning the athlete isn’t learning and perfecting the nuanced skill of controlling the bar and his or her body during this phase.
If you want to force yourself to be faster under a clean, clean from high blocks or the hang, do tall cleans, or… clean heavier weights. If you’re complaining that your cleans float too much at the top so you can’t learn to turn them over properly without band resistance, you have some work to do on the clean generally, and bands are not the solution. You may get a quick sense of improvement initially, but you're opening the door for additional problems. Learn to maintain your grip in the turnover longer, and learn how to meet the bar with your body instead of jumping down indiscriminately.
I don’t object to the use of bands for squats and deadlifts, although I also don’t think it’s particularly helpful for weightlifting. I have even used light bands for jerk drives in order to allow the drive to be completed without the bar leaving the shoulders and crashing back onto the lifter. But these movements are completely different from the Olympic lifts themselves, and band resistance doesn’t interfere with the lift in any meaningful way.
But What Do I Know?
All that said, this is just my opinion and I don't expect it to be shared by everyone. Experiment with whatever you want and with some luck, you'll find new things that work. It doesn't hurt my feelings to see coaches using tricks that I don't; it's my choice to use them or not myself.
Those who criticize US weightlifting coaches often use the tired refrain that we’re hindered by a reliance on tradition—that we do what we do simply because it’s what we've always done. This of course is obviously nonsense to anyone actually in weightlifting, which has evolved greatly in the past few decades, and this is why the remark is constantly dismissed without even being addressed. Every weightlifting coach in the world has the same goal—to make his lifters as good as possible. No coach worth noticing will ignore genuine means to that end. The so-called "traditions" are such because these things have been proven effective repeatedly among many lifters and coaches and no other reason. Non-weightlifting coaches crying about us not listening to them because we’re afraid of diverging from tradition reminds me of a petulant teenager telling his parents that they’re square and scared because they don’t wear black eyeliner and skinny jeans, listen to shitty, whiny music, and get high on cough syrup like they do.
As soon as Mr. Simmons or any other critic actually produces an elite weightlifter subject to USADA drug testing for the entirety of his competitive career, I will pay close attention. Until then, it's just a lot of untested theory and baseless criticism. Coaching weightlifting is such an easy thing to do when you don't have to actually do it.

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Marcos U
October 10 2013
Sounds like Louie is using a little too much pseudo-science to back his claims.
Michael H
October 10 2013
As a former powerlifter in high school and college I now wish I was taught Olympic Lifting. I would have been a much better athlete with fewer injuries. I have read many articles of Louie Simmons and his book. He is attempting to re-invent the wheel that is already 'round'. In the 1970s when the first 'World's Strongest Men Competition' competitions aired on ABC the Oly Lifters won every time.
Justin T
October 10 2013
Greg, thank you for speaking up.

Someone needed to do it and you couldn't have provided a better response.


Everyone who weight lifts.
Michael Reynolds
October 10 2013
Truly it makes no sense why he doesn't take a few athletes and train them in the way he believes is the best way. There are plenty of volunteers including myself.

I agree with much of what you said and a lot of the reasons why we are not competitive on an international and world level is partly obvious, I don't think we need to list them. Regardless, a male lifter hasn't taken gold since 1960. Tara Knott being the most recent female in 2000 as a 48. Something we need to change. The Eastern Bloc countries continue to mop us up.

Regardless of if everything Louie says will work or not, we need more research and we need more money in this sport. Is it possible all these other countries are years ahead of us in the science/research department. Maybe our methods are decades behind and stale. We clearly aren't winning anything. So why not try different methods? We have a huge problem in this country of not working together to make ourselves better. We all criticize everything and everyone who is doing something different. If the greatest minds got together and discussed these topics maybe we would make leaps and bounds instead of doing the same old same old, losing.
Solomon Alexander
October 10 2013
Debunking others' arguments are easy and kind of fun. However, interviews like the one with Simmons happen because we get crushed on the world stage. Our only 2012 Olympian lost by 30 kilos. Jump on Louie all you want, but the truth is, we're not very good. And I refuse to believe it's just because the Eastern Bloc has dope.
October 10 2013
Its not just the roids (although they are a huge factor - and yes pretty much all nationally competitive powerlifters juice) but also the level of talent. Yes, we have talented athletes in the US, they just choose to do other sports instead of concentrating on weightlifting. That's a big reason why these other countries are so good, they get the best/strongest kids at 7 years old and train them for 10-15 years.
Arjay U
October 10 2013
^as a wannabe weightlifter who has merely done his own research out of his own curiousity, interest and meticulous attention to detail, the disparity to me seems to be that weightlifting simply isn't as popular here as it is in other parts of the world-- kids are not exposed to the sport, and quite frankly, many who "lift weights" still to this day, notate "weightlifting" with "bicep curls"

meanwhile i've noticed how stringent the training is in other countries, where training is started young. for example, in Bulgaria, out of 3000 or so, a small percentage move on to continue training, and the rest... well they are not heard of after the fact.
Rick B
October 10 2013
For the record, I am a novice-intermediate weightlifter at best. However, I understand physics, angles, shock physics/propagational forces, and all the silly shit that contributes to bar movement. Anyone who has trained a weightlifter, hell, anyone that has ever analyzed a video of a professional weightlifter on You Tube understands bar speed, relative bar-travel distance, and the timing of the pull/drop under the bar. The latter obviously occurring long before a bar reaches it's apex (with a successful lift). We haven't even begun to discuss the change in relative force vectors of the bar and lifter as one ascends while the other descends...terminal velocity, Isaac Newton, surely there is more to this equation than Simmon's realizes. To that end, why don't we just ask Travis Mash (World Champion Powerlifter) about weightlifting, which is a big part of his program. My advice to Simmon's, if solicited, run your suck all you want in the company of the ill-trained and poorly educated, but not here. Back in your hole rabbit!
Michael FitzGerald
October 10 2013
Great read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas.
Nick Horton
October 10 2013
Sometimes it's good to rant, brother. And when you're right, it's less of a rant and more of a defense of reality.
Tamara Reynolds
October 10 2013
I enjoyed the article very much, but the last line simply said it all. "Coaching weightlifting is such an easy thing to do when you don't have to actually do it."
Keith Miller
October 10 2013
Everybody wants to be an armchair quarterback, don't nobody want to actually coach!!

Greg, you're absolutely right on!!
In Agreement
October 10 2013
Excellent way to bring things in to perspective. Also, I am a huge fan of Shane Hamman and almost feel sorry to use him as my example/poster child for this situation. But in Hamman we have the almost perfect example of a world record/top level powerlifter that at best finished 7th in his Olympic career. Could he have placed better if he exclusively did weightlifting, who knows. But if it were as easy as some powerlifting coaches like to believe then we probably would have figured it out by now or these coaches would have produced world and olympic champions to back up their expert claims.
Dr. Beefcake.
October 10 2013
Our best weightlifting talent is funneled to other sports. Weightlifting simply is not popular enough for kids to get started here in the US. Our best athletes are playing football, running track, etc.
Dave Chiu
October 11 2013
Well expressed Coach Everett
you failed to give credit where credit's due --
PL has undeniably better weight classes than OL:
Women: 47 kg, 52 kg, 57 kg, 63 kg, 72 kg, 84 kg, 84 kg+
Men: 59 kg, 66 kg, 74 kg, 83 kg, 93 kg, 105 kg, 120 kg, 120 kg+
... not sure if Coach Simmons had anything to do w/ it
October 11 2013
Great write up, Greg. And for those who are complaining about the US' subpar results, as others have noted above, the best athletes in the US aren't taking up weightlifting, meaning that (by and large) those who are competing simply are not of the caliber, genetically, necessary to be successful on the world stage (IMO). Hard and smart work are great, but they have their limits.
I remember reading an article a while back where Louie recommended bands on cleans - I can't even fathom the wrist and elbow injuries that would ensue...
October 11 2013
Simmons is a goof. Why even listen to anything he says.
JL Holdsworth
October 11 2013
Greg - I have had my name on the record board at Westside, no one knows how things work there better than me. A lot of the statements on this thread are just as stupid and illogical as the ones that you rebuke(Louie's) in this article. I agree with 90% of what you say in this article and like the logical way you approach them. I do think that the weightlifting community could learn from some powerlifting and powerlifters could learn something from weightlifting. But, everyone throws out their egos and wants to denounce the other side. In my opinion we all want the same thing, to be the best at our sport. If you read this and want to talk more about my ideas on this you can shoot me an email If not, no big deal, either way, nice article.
October 11 2013
I have lived in China for 3 yrs - I am the strength coach for basketball and I have worked in their National System. I have been to the Olympic Training facility in Beijing and talked with their Olympic lifting coaches. You know what they tell me?? They say the reason the USA doesnt have top international lifters is because the most powerful, best athletes in the USA play American Football!! The Chinese coaches tell me "thank God for Football". If those athletes grew up weight lifting, the world could not compete! No other country has football and few Americans are going to give up Football for weight lifting!
October 11 2013
Michael, I read that from someone the other day. Once upon a time I gobbled up everything that Simmons preached. But as you educate yourself and scour information you find that well maybe he isn't as genius as you think. NONE of his athletes are drug free. They ALL lift in suits. And they ALL lift in meets with their friends judging to give them a better chance at winning.
Sean McCullagh
October 11 2013
Good stuff Greg, thanks for putting it out there.
Tim Hamilton
October 11 2013
Good article. Thanks for contributing something meaningful to the discussion. Good stuff!
Mark B.
October 11 2013
Weightlifting and Powerlifting is like comparing a Ferrari to a dump truck; two different machines used for two different things. Both have their place in the world but a dump truck bucket wouldn't look good on a race car. Great article.
justin buckels
October 11 2013
louie simmons first would kick ur ass second with out a dout is the best strength coach on the planet if he coached weightlifting we would have gold medals in america this bum talkin dosent have anything
Scott Safe
October 11 2013
Nice article! Couldn't agree more. This coming from a former powerlifter turned into a weightlifting coach.
October 11 2013
As a USAW coach, I am astounded that this is even an argument.

David Johns
October 11 2013
Well said Greg. As a competitive powerlifter who happens to stink at the Oly lifts I couldn't agree more. They are two separate sports with separate training methods, trying to compare them is asinine.
Matt B.
October 11 2013
The lack of competitive weightlifters in the US has little to do with talented coaches and effective coaching technique, and a lot to do with money. There are not many countries in the world (definitely not the countries that tend to have good weightlifters) that pay professional athletes tens of millions of dollars a year to play sports such as football. Athletes in the US want to play college ball and take a shot at the pros rather than chase success in a sport that doesn't come with lots of money and fame.
Marcos U
October 11 2013
Michael, the "thank God for (American) Football" is probably the most poignant and concise comment here.
October 11 2013
"Non-weightlifting coaches crying about us not listening to them because we’re afraid of diverging from tradition reminds me of a petulant teenager telling his parents that they’re square and scared because they don’t wear black eyeliner and skinny jeans, listen to shitty, whiny music, and get high on cough syrup like they do."
God fucking damnit now I don't have to do ab work, I laughed so hard.

Then justin buckles made me laugh even harder
October 11 2013
If football and other highly-paid team sports are a large part of the reason we suck at weightlifting, why aren't we more competitive in the lighter weight classes? The majority of NFL players would be SHW lifters, and virtually all the rest would be at 105kg or 94kg.
October 11 2013
@Steve - how many kids are exposed to weightlifting at a young age? Therefore, they're doing wrestling, baseball, hell, even football until they can't hack it. Additionally, there are guys who play at the D-I level weighing 160 or so, wiping out basically 69+, because if they're playing on that level at that size, you better believe they're explosive. Do we have all the answers and are only hamstrung by talent? I'm not saying so, but the fact is there are something like 2,500 competitive lifters in the US I believe. That's a damn small pool to pick from, especially when the vast majority weren't exposed early, and also likely aren't the best athletes to begin with.
richard dog
October 11 2013
"there is a very rapid deceleration of the bar following the lifter’s upward extension"

Simmons quotes elementary physics like somebody who flunked out in highschool. Actually, there is a CONSTANT acceleration on the bar following the lifter's upward extension: it's about 9.8m/s^2 downward.

Is this a highly pedantic, disingenuous remark to make? Why yes it is! We all know that the it comes...
~changes direction suddenly~
after the lifter's upward extension. The mark of understanding a topic is being able to make it sound simpler, not more complicated.

I feel like the best example of this is in the roughly paraphrased conversation
- What is the advantage of doing box squats
L: Having the box at the bottom dissipates the kinetic energy of the lifter when they are in the bottom of the squat, so they cannot use this kinetic energy to perform the concentric component of the lift
-you mean you can't bounce out of the bottom
L: yes
Vince Boutros
October 11 2013
Well executed Greg!
October 12 2013
In your FACE!!!! Simmons.
Taylor Chiu
October 12 2013
Cleaning with bands? Seriously? Simmons has obviously never seriously done weightlifting before.
October 12 2013
Weightlifting drama. Love it. Someone should make a movie.
October 14 2013
It's a very hard thing not to get offended by people who shout about what they don't really know. And, if no one answers that call, many people might take what they say seriously. I appreciate your balanced approach at trying to diffuse Mr. Simmons ignorance. Many times you may feel that responding to such nonsense is lowering yourself to an argument that can't be won, but if no one does, many people might be mislead and put the effort in walking a bridge to no where. You're a good coach keep on keeping on.
October 14 2013
I'm gonna type my thoughts as I read:
1) I understand what simmons said is dumb regarding speed, but then again so is the author's point. So what that the clean pull is 1/4 the speed of the deadlift? Give magnusson almost half the weight and I bet he will go insanely fast as well.
2) I completely disagree that the big 3 aren't technical. I am in no way saying that cleans and snatches are easy, but they are basically two variations of a very similar movement pattern.... Big 3 are completely different honestly, and if by some miracle they can prove squat and deadlift are similar, the difference between squat and bench is still 10000x more pronounced than between clean & jerk and snatch. It's terribly foolish to say that powerlifting isn't technical, or as explosive as "weightlifting."
Just because you have different types of lifts that recruit different muscles, doesn't mean one of them is innately more explosive..
and while I know it was Simmons that attacked American oly lifting, its not really wise to compare his stable of lifters(generally multi-ply or single-ply guys, he literally only has one raw guy in there right now.) Obviously geared powerlifters are going to seem less explosive, when there is literally no way to quantify that unless you want to put forceplates under lifters on lifts.

Simmons is an idiot for bashing oly lifting and its training styles, but this dude is an idiot too but comparing things that aren't comparable. He committed pretty much all of the same mistakes that Simmons did honestly.
Kirk H. (Tugboat) Woodroof
October 14 2013
Excellent article. To sum it up in todays pop lexicon, He's Player Hating. I don't know what his " axe to grind " but he (Simmons) certainly has made the Buttocks of Himself.

The reply has been edited for content.
Bench McShirt Highsquatpants
October 15 2013
Louie got DUNKED ON!!!!!!!!
October 15 2013
Glenn Pendlay commented on this as well. He comments bands have been around about 10 years ago and that they have some effect for beginner to possible intermediate lifters.

I have the link but it won't let me post it.
October 15 2013
I have to admit I haven't heard about this interview with Louie but I have to admit that bashing any strength sport doesn't sound like his MO. I don't think there is any person on the planet with as much knowledge and expertise in perfecting the human machine and making someone as strong as possible. I know for a fact that Louie is probably the most educated American strength coach in terms of the Eastern block training systems and he derived his Conjugate training system from Russian weightlifting. That being said I feel the animosity towards a living legend probably isn't deserved.
Big Truth
October 15 2013
Corrected for clarity and understanding....

"There are many on the planet with more much knowledge and education in perfecting the human machine and making someone as strong as possible. Louie is by far not the most educated American strength coach in terms of the Eastern block training systems and he derived his Conjugate training system from A gross miss interpretation and miss representation of Russian weightlifting. That being said I now understand the animosity towards a sales man turned self proclaimed living legend probably is deserved."
October 15 2013
Thanks for your endless patience and thorough article. I learn so much from your articles, website and newsletters. Thanks, keep up the good work
October 17 2013
You have done a great service to self-teaching weightlifters with this, who would have done themselves a disservice and possibly injury had they followed LS suggestions. Sadly he's gone down with guru syndrome, believing he's qualified to dispense advice in areas outside his own experience and knowledge.
October 17 2013
WAAAAAHHH lou simmons hurt my feelings so i now must attack him with an article he'll never see WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHH HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
October 18 2013
Great article.

Matthew, take it somewhere else.
Hugh Beaumont
October 19 2013
I am surprised that Louie can squat low enough to get his balls in Matt's mouth.
October 20 2013
Very solid article. It's always good to find an article that has science on its side.
October 20 2013
Definitely not pseudoscience Louie just believes in the old Soviet training paradigms, research and science. Whether he's right or wrong i cant say.
Jack Skellington
October 20 2013
The problem is Louie has a distorted an selective view of the Russian training paradigms.
October 23 2013
Ironically, there is more "power" demonstrated in weightlifting (WL) than there is in power lifting (PL). "Power" = force x distance / time. In WL there is greater bar travel (distance) AND a time element as the window to drop under the bar is not unlimited, thus requiring a higher bar velocity. PL includes a shorter distance and is independent of time, therefore less power, eventhough the force required (relative to the weight on the bar) may be greater. Strength (force application) is included in both sports (da), but the body is specific in its adaptation, thus requiring specific training (stress). There is some crossover between the two, but the seperation must remain.
Steve R
October 30 2013
I have had many conversations with Westside Barbell and one with Loius about this subject.

No one seems to have grasped Loiue's fundamental point.

His methods are an amalgamation of the Russian weightlifting methods as found in Managing the Training of the Weightlifters by Laputin, V.Alexeev's and Medvedyev's.

In Laputin's book he lists lots of assisatance eexcercises that have a statistical corelation to the improvement of the Classic lifts(Power Clean, Pulls off Blocks Etc..) He also copies Prelipin's chart for optimal distribution of loads above 70% of max .

Medvedyev's text states that the Soviets did more that 50% or more of their training on assistance excercises after the athletes mastered the basic W.l technique. He also recommedded that training complexes be change every three weeks to avoid accomodation.

Mel Siff reported that Alexeev did his training with a three week pendulum wave, and you can see pictures of him cleaning out of water to change the resistance curve of the barbell. Hydro- dynamic resistance is similar to using bands and chains on the bar as the resisatance will increase as the bar height increases.

Now please put this all together - Westside uses a one to three week rotation of assistance excercises for max strength, Prelipin's chart on a three week rotation fot the main lifts with accomodating resistance.

All he has done extra is separate out three days in between max strength days and max speed days for the same body part to allow these ares to recover!
This is a weightlifting system adapted to powerlifting and some that it would not work?

Steve R
October 31 2013
He is not grossly misrepresenting the Russian conjugate method.
It isn't that he thinks that no strength work is done in the U.S.A, but that too much time (proportionally) is spent on the quick lifts versus balancing these with slower heavier variants which can help an non- ideally suited lifter bio- mechanically speaking overcome their weakneses, or that he thinks that no oly. lifting should be done.
It is difficult to believe that Greg Everett doesn't know this.
In fact, the Chinese Weightlifting system is quite similar to Westside, in that it employs the Russian conjugate system and the Bulgarian max. effort system.
And he doesn't just criticise he wants to help out as well.
Please read the article "What if I were an Olympic Weightlifting coach" widely available on the net.
Alternatively, read on..
My understanding of his solution is the following:
Day1- Max Pull or Squat -change every one to three weeks-(max pull off blocks of four diff. heights to a height guage, max squat variation, front, back, overhead, narrow, deep, wide - yes the Chinese weightlifters do wide squats, see Lift

Day3- Max Jerk -rotate as above- (Split jerk,Squat jerk, Power jerk, Push Press..)
Assistance:Triceps,traps,rear delts

Day5-Speed Lower body-Power clean at 75,80,85% of 1 rm for one each week for three weeks then wave back to 75% again. (Use percentages and sets on Prelipin's chart.)

Assistance work as day one

Day7-Speed Upper body- Power or split jerk at 50,55,60%of 1rm
(Use Prelipin's chart)
Assistance work as day three

Snatch work would just include snatch variations of the above on a three week pendulum wave.

Remeber that not all W.l champs had super high volumes appraoiches or trained heavy every day. (ie-Alexeev)
One does however need to slowly increase ones' tonnage by adding in workout sessions over time, and include gpp on days off.
(Prelipin's chart is a Soviet chart stating the optimal no. of lifts and sets per percentage range -its aim is to keep bar speed high, perfect form,and avoid over training . In this context/programme it would ensure good technique is maintained and improved over time thus addressing the author's concern about technique.)

Anyone who doubts these ideas can look on you tube and type in' Polish Weightlifting' and watch the whole of the documentary. See how many assistance excercises are done in comparison to the Ol. lifts.

The test of the pudding is in the eating so why doesn't someone try/ stick to the programme and see how it goes?

All the best Steve

David Bayer
November 3 2013
I tried the banded clean at a CF powerlifting seminar taught by AJ Roberts. He is a great guy, very knowledgeable for powerlifting. But the banded clean I think is taking unnecessary risks. We were doing a banded clean ladder. Got 95lbs on the bar and about 70lbs of band tension at the top. The tension pulled the bar from my hands when I open them up to prepare for rack position and it came down right on my knee. I was not able to train squats for a week and I still have scar tissue in that knee. I just hope it doesn't lead to worse problems later on in my life because I am only 19.
Ashley Costigan
November 5 2013
if anyone stopped and timed the videos magusson lifted 0.2 seconds SLOWER than the clean & jerk
Steve R
November 5 2013
Band tension should not be used above 25% for the Olympic lifts.Chains are much more effective at producing overload at your sticking point and should be used at about % of max, and do not have the horrible snap at the top effect.Lois Simmons uses similar percentages for this speed Squats /deads. He uses ie 50/50% when training for Strength speed.
November 27 2013
I appreciate your insights with this article. I like how you don't write anything off; you admit to using bands with some overhead movements. This shows a balanced, open minded view. IMO.

Maybe Louie said some things that were a little more absolute than some would like. Fair enough. But accommodating resistance has, for years now, helped people get faster and stronger. A good coach will know when and how to employ this for his/athletes. I agree with David Bayer above, using bands on the clean and snatch seem risky, even for experienced lifters. But using bands/chains for overall strength/speed should be a tool to be considered. IMO.
November 30 2013
@ Michael, your best athletes play football is exactly what people in the international world of judo thinks too!
Alfreda S.
December 12 2013
Recently crossfitter Andrea Ager trained in Ohio at Westside Barbell with Louie Simmons while preparing for the American Open. She by no means is a big girl and she qualified for the AO with a clean and jerk of 195, a personal best. I was very interested to see how she would perform at the AO after training with westside. I believe she trained there maybe two months? And I do believe she became stronger in her power lifts (deadlift, squat, etc.) but when the AO came she did not even make her 195lb clean and jerk or the snatch she had made to qualify (not too sure about the snatch.) Alhough every athlete is not the same and maybe she had lost strength tapering down to the 63kg weight class, but to show no improvement in either lift after training at westside barbell is example enough to disprove Louie Simmons methods for oly weightlifters.
Brandon Green
May 8 2015

I believe that experience in a given sport typically trumps all.
With that said what do you think of this ?
There is a definite return on investment with a given level of strength.
For example the vertical jump (at least in theory) will peak at 2-2.5x
body weight squat. In my understanding this means that by depth jumps
or any other means i will be able to translate only so much strength from
my squat to the vertical. There is another theory that says that an INDIVIDUAL
will only be able to translate so much strength into speed and that "transferability"
has a predisposed genetic limit .For example the squat is supposed to yield a C&J
of about 80% of whatever that back squat was. If the second theory is correct no matter
what i won't be able to increase the C&J without GETTING STRONGER. If correct
that "transferability" will dimnish but it's easier to get stronger than increase explosiveness
from a given level of strength.
Greg Everett
May 9 2015
Brandon -

Yes, each level of strength will mean a certain potential for snatch/CJ. How much of that potential is reached will depend on the individual's genetic makeup and the nature of training. That last part is critical. If you had unlimited time and capacity for training, then more strength training would always make sense; but there is a limit and work must be prioritized.
Johnny N
January 14 2017
It seems Simmons is an empiricist barking up a domaine in which he has no meaningful experience.
April 7 2020
Then why does the USA have 0 world records in weightlifting and westside has broken over 140 all time world records in powerlifting? You’re just like the rest of the weightlifting community and not intelligent enough to be able to understand the true science behind what Louie does. You’re a clown who contributes to our country embarrassing ourselves on the world stage because you’re too hard headed to use his methods. His methods are the powerlifting version of what the Chinese weightlifters do and look who has all the weightlifting records? Get a clue moron.