MB: Could you explain a little about yourself, i.e. Hometown, Name, weight class, best lifts, competition placings rundown etc..just so the readers know who you are (if that isn’t already known. 🙂
BY: My name is Bob Youngs and I am original from Wethersfield, CT. I currently live in Lake Worth, FL and work for Atlantic Lending Corporation. I was born on June 18, 1970. I have competed in the weight classes from 220 to 308. My best lifts are an 840 squat, 540 bench, and 700 in the deadlift. My best total is 2010 at 308 and 2000 at 275. I have placed in the top five at the IPA Nationals and World Cup.
MB: Can you give a brief rundown of the WSB system?
BY: The WSB system is about the the developement of speed strength on one day and maximum effort on another day. The system was founded on Soviet Union Olympic Lifting principles. The system is about making your weak points stronger to improve your lifting in the big 3 lifts.
MB: What type of training did you do before going to WS?
BY: Before I arrived at WBC in the summer of 1996, I followed the progressive overload theory of training. I spent many years going no where fast, but I kept doing it anyway.
MB: Is there anything about WS that you disagree with or you do uniquely?
BY: I don’t do anything unique to WBC, but we all do slightly different workouts based on our weaknesses. As Louie says, “make what is weak stronger and you will get stronger.”
MB: What do you and WS lifters feel is the ideal BF% for strength?
BY: In my opinion there is no ideal bodyfat percentage for strength. We have people who range from 8 percent to into the 20 percent area. As long as my belly doesn’t affect my deadlift, I don’t get very concerned with my bodyfat.
MB: I have seen it mentioned before that the Speed Bench should be trained at 55% of a shirt max and 60% of a shirtless max, but recently I have been hearing that Louie now recommends doing all speed work with 60%. Is this true? And if so why the change in %?
BY: The exact percent for speed benches will vary from lifter to lifter. We used to use 70 percent and then Joe McCoy had great success with using 55%. So, we lowered the recommended percent down. The key is to generate the maximum amount of force. This is done with weights somewhere in between 50 and 60 percent. It will take some tinkering to find out what works best for each individual. I have had my best results training with 50% of my contest best.
MB: Do you guys do any special stretching to aid in your lifting?
BY: I can’t speak for everyone on this topic, but I try to use Pavel Tsatsouline’s recommendations. His book “Beyond Stretching” is outstanding. I will say that none of us stretch before we train, it kills the stretch reflex. I do Pavel’s stretching at night when I’m watching TV.
MB: GPP is becoming quite popular. What kind of sled work is done and how often to aid in the lifting? Also is there any new GPP ideas that are being used besides the sled work? Would walking or sprinting short intervals on an inclined Treadmill be considered GPP?
BY: There are so many ways to use a sled, I couldn’t possibly list them all. Figure out where your weakness is and you can come up with an exercise on the sled to hit the area. It is also great for general recovery; it helps flush new blood into the area. We are still just scratching the surface with the sleds. We also use a wheelbarrow for some GPP stuff. I also really like to use a medicine ball in my GPP workouts. The treadmill doesn’t provide enough resistance to serve as a GPP exercise.
MB: Could one throw in a mini cycle of max squats in full gear into the WSB routine?
BY: The only reason I would put in a mini cycle of free squats was if I couldn’t find a meet to do. We have new people come in who have never really done a power squat and they train the same as everyone else. They go to the meet and their technique is fine.
MB: What is the reasoning behind changing the max exercises after 2 weeks? Is it possible for the body to adapt to an exercise in only 2 weeks? Why not go to 3 weeks instead?
BY: The reason for changing the max effort exercise every two weeks is a more advanced lifters body will adapt to the exercise. Also, mental boredom sets in. Newer lifters can go to three weeks on an exercise without a problem. If you feel you have more PRs left in you, then go ahead and extend the exercise for an extra week.
MB: What are WSB’s thoughts on beginners who want to start WSB training before they have enough experience to have developed correct muscle memory and good neuro muscular pathways?
BY: Box squats will teach a person how to squat. We have had a lot of success with developing new lifters doing box squats. The key is to have them compete frequently, every 8 weeks or so.
MB: Does WSB still follow the 4 days a week lifting? Do any guys ever throw in an extra day for added shoulder work to aid in the bench press if they find their shoulders are weak?
BY: We do the four main workouts per week. Most of the guys are now doing additional “feeder” or extra workouts. These are designed to aid in recovery, target weak muscle groups, and to get the lifter into shape.
MB: I have heard recently that some WSB lifters are no longer doing Zercher squats. Is this true and why the change?
BY: Zercher squats are a great exercise. The problem is when you get to a certain strength level it becomes difficult to hold the bar in the arms. We have had 22 800 pound squatters and the weight they can use in the Zercher is pretty high. So, the problem was we were testing our ability to hold the bar instead of the squat and deadlift muscles.
MB: I understand that WSB does not deadlift but maybe 2 weeks out of a cycle leading up to a meet and never in the last 2 weeks? Why is this? Do you think its more beneficial for a beginning WSB follower to do deadlifts more often?
BY: We don’t deadlift because constant heavy deadlifting won’t get your deadlift anywhere. Some people who are built to deadlift(long legs, long arms, and short torso) can get away with more deadlifting. We don’t have very many people built to deadlift. The deadlift stalls due to a weak muscle group. If you strengthen that muscle group, your deadlift will go up. Take a person who is explosive off the floor, but struggles at lockout. If this person were to deadlift a lot, their strong point at the floor would carry them through their weakness at the top. This person has not addressed their weak link and their dealift will not go up.
MB: What is the average “training” cycle fof WSB leading up to a meet?
BY: : The answer to this question will vary from one lifter to another. Since we all have different weaknesses, we will all have different special exercises to address our needs. I pretty much keep my speed bench workouts the same for the bench; I just change assistance exercises every 2 or 3 weeks. For the squat, I vary the band tension and weight. Weeks 9-6 I wave up from 50 percent to 60 percent using a choked green band. Weeks 5-3 I use 50-60% and use a choked blue band and choked pink. Weeks 2-1 are done with a choked green band and 55-50% I feel it is very important to concentrate on speed right before the meet. I’ll address max effort day in the next question.
MB: What types of exercises do you recommend for the Max effort exercises for bothe the Squat/Dead day and the Bench day?
BY: For the SQ/DL max effort day I recommend 20% squats, 70% goodmornings, and 10% a deadlift variation. I mostly do low box squats with the front squat harness or the Manta Ray. For goodmornings, I do bent overs most of the time. I like to use the Buffalo Bar from Iron Mind or the Safety Squat Bar. We will do these suspended in chains about half the time. I prefer to do arched back good mornings as my last mini cycle before the meet. The two deadlift variations I do are rack pulls and pulls standing on a 3 inch box. I try not to do the deadlifts in the last 6 weeks before the meet. For the bench I rotate between board presses, floor presses, inclines, illegal wide grips, dumbbells, and reverse band presses. I do an exercise for one week and then move on. I rarely do the same movement two weeks in a row.
MB: I had read that Paul Dick’s Presses were used at WSB but now is fading away. If this is true then why are they no longer done?
BY: We have gotten away from the Paul Dicks press because of the JM presses. We just feel that the JMs are more effective for the bench press.
MB: Do any WSB lifters ever do cardio to make weight and if so what kinds of things would one do to make weight if they were say 10 lbs overweight 10 weeks out from a meet without causing degradation to strength?
BY: We feel that cardio is bad for strength. If we need to lose weight we try to consume more protein and less carbs. If you are overweight close to weigh in time, find a sauna and sweat the weight off. In the IPA we have a 24 hour weigh in and that is plenty of time to get the fluids back in your system.
MB: I understand the Abs and Back are critical for the deadlift and squat, how often are they trained and with what exercises?
BY: : I train my abs and lower back four times a week. I do my abs on the two main lower body days, as well as in the extra workouts the day after both lower body days. Ten weeks before a meet I will add in extra ab and low back workouts in my feeder workouts to bring the number of ab and low back workouts up to six in a week.
MB: Could you explain the following exercises to clear up any confusion among WS followers: 1.) Board Presses 2.) JM Presses 3.) Floor Presses 4.) Box Squat 5.) Kneeling Squats
Board Presses: Just like a regular bench, but you will place two, three, or four 2×6’s on your chest. This works the midddle of the bench.
JM Press: This exercise is 25% extension and 75% press. Lower the bar to about 5 inches above the middle of the chest, and then press the bar up in a straight line. Keep the elbows in tight to the body. Put your mind into your triceps and concentrate on them
Floor Press: Lying on the floor, lower the bar until your elbows touch the floor. Pause for a second and then press the weight back up. This works the lower part of the bench.
Box Squats: Start by sitting back with the hips and keeping a tight arch. Push the knees out to the sides. When you sit on the box your shins should be perpendicular to the floor. Relax the hip flexors and then reflex to return to the top. Your free squat should look just like your box squat.
Kneeling Squats: While kneeling on the floor unrack the weight. Now sit back until you your butt won’t go down any further. Flex your hips to return to the top, This exercise works the hips. Your upper body position should mirror that of your box squat.
MB: What is, in your opinion, the best triceps routine that you have used that has helped to increase your bench press? (Basically, which exercises you use and on what days?)
BY: The best exercises for the triceps are JM presses, barbell extensions, dumbbell extensions, and five board lockouts with a blue band (George Halbert showed me this one). I try to do 6-8 sets of triceps on my bench days. On max effort day I like to do either rack lockouts or 5 board presses followed by pushdowns with a band behind my neck. On speed day I do either JM presses or carpet presses. I follow that with some type of extension. I will use a straight bar, dumbbells, or an elbows out extension.
MB: I understand the importance of lat training for aid in the bench, but what exercises/sets/reps does WS use and on what days?
BY: We will do 4-5 sets of lats with every workout but the speed squat workout. We will choose from a variety of pulldowns, low pulley rows, and Icarian chest supported rows. We try to do 5-10 reps. Also, it is important to work your lats in the same plain you bench on. So, we usually do some type of row on bench days.
MB: What kind of diet do you follow?
BY: Diet is in general way overrated. I pretty much eat whatever I want most of the time. The one thing I focus on is getting in enough protein. I try to get a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, but I rarely get there. I do not count calories or anything like that. I usually train at around 285 or so. I start to watch what I eat at about 8 weeks out. I try to lower my carbs a bit and raise my protein. My goal is to be about 280 five days before I weigh in. From there I adjust my water intake to consume large amounts of water and sodium till 48 hours before weigh in. At 48 hours out I cut all sodium. At 18 hours out I cut all water intake. If need be I’ll sweat out the last little bit of water. I then rehydrate the heck out of myself and usually lift weighing around 285.
MB: What kinds of things are being done now at WS since the latest videos were made? Has there been anymore changes to the routines or beliefs of the lifters or Louie?
BY: We are really doing a lot of the same things. We are really looking at different ways to use the jump stretch bands. They are a great item to develop strength and we are trying some different things.
MB: What reading materials would you recommend to help a lifter?
BY: I recommend anything that you can get from the Soviet Union. These materials are hard to come by, but when you do they are worth there weight in Gold. Elite Fitness Systems has some great reading material. Their phone number is 888-854-8806.
MB: What type of equipment do you wear?
BY: All of my equipment is from Inzer Advance Designs. I wear the Hardcore squat suit, a double ply denim bench shirt with the radical cut and an open back, and the Max DL suit. They have the best stuff around and can be reached at 800-222-6897.
MB: Below is a typical training week for Bob
BY: A Typical Training Week
Sunday (max effort squat and deadlift)
1) Choose from one of the following and work up to a max single. In the case of the good mornings you can also do sets of 3. The exercises I prefer are low box squats with a front squat harness or manta ray, a bent over good morning with either a buffalo bar or a safety squat bar (you can do these either with free weight or suspended in chains), or a deadlift variation. You will only do ONE of these exercises.
2) I rotate the following pulling assistance exercises: high pulls, band deadlifts done on a 3-inch platform, Dimel deadlifts, and stiff-legged deadlifts. I do 3-4 sets and prefer sets of 3 for the band DLs and high pulls. For the Dimel’s and stiff legs I like to do 3 sets of 10.
3) Reverse hypers: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
4) Leg raises: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
5) Some type of pulldown, I vary the handle from week to week: 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps
Sunday evening (extra workout)
1) Band pushdowns with either a pink or green band. I do 100 total reps. I usually do 2 sets of 50 with the pink and 3 sets of 35 with the green.
2) Either 3 trips of sled dragging or 15 minutes of medicine ball work.
Monday (extra workout)
1) Double band good mornings: The set up will sound kind of complex at first, but it isn’t. Run the first band through your belt in the front. Then stick one foot through each loop. Take the second band and step on it. Take the other end of the second band and pull it to the back of your neck. Then do a regular bent over good morning. I like to do 3 sets of 15-20 reps2) Pulldown abs with a band attached to the top of the power rack. I do 3 sets of 50 reps. I break the sets down into 10 reps with varying stances. The stances I use are right foot staggered in front of left, left staggered in front of right, side bends to the left, side bends to the right, and regular parallel stance.
3) Iron Mind gripper #1 for 1 set and gripper #2 for 1 set
4) Wrist roller: 2 sets
5) Calf work: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Tuesday (max effort bench press)
1) Main exercise: Choose one of the following and work up to a max single (floor press, board press, reverse band press, inclines, declines, or chain presses). Every 4th week I do a rep exercise. I will do either illegal wide grips or dumbbells. I prefer to do a max set of 6 in the wide grip and 3 sets of 20 in the dumbbell presses. I like to do the dumbbells on a stability ball.
2) A lockout movement. Either rack lockouts or 5 board presses. I like to do sets of 3 and work up to some heavy singles at the end.
3) Pushdowns: I do these with a band behind my head and attached to the bar. I do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.
4) Side lateral raises: 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps
5) Seated long pulley rows: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
Wednesday (extra workout)
1) Band pushdowns: I do a total of 100 reps. I either use a pink band for 2 sets of 50 reps or a green band for 3 sets of 35 reps.
2) Flat bench flyes: 2 sets of 15-20 reps
3) Rotator work: 2 sets of 15-20 reps
4) Hammer curls: 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps
5) Pulls to the face: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Thursday (dynamic squat)
1) Box squats: 8 sets of 2 reps when using straight weight or chains and 6 sets of 2 when using bands. The bar weight is waved between 50-60 percent.
2) Speed deadlifts: 5-6 sets of singles with 50-60 percent
3) Reverse hypers: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
4) Pulldown abs: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
Friday (extra workout)
1) 3 sets of sled dragging or 10-15 minutes of medicine ball throws
2) Pulldown abs with bands: 2 sets of 50 reps
3) Iron Mind gripper work: 1 set with the #1 and 1 set with the #2
4) Wrist roller: 1-2 sets
5) Calf work: 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Saturday (dynamic bench press)
1) Bench press: 8 sets of 3 reps with 50 percent. I vary the grip with all sets being done with no wider than pinky on the rings. When using mini bands I use 45%.
2) JM presses or Carpet presses: 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps
3) Extensions: either barbell, dumbbell, or elbows out for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
4) Front raises: either with a barbell, dumbbells, or plate. I do 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps
5) Bent over barbell rows: 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps
Sunday (max effort squat and deadlift)
1) Main exercise: Pick one of the following and work up to a max single (good mornings, good mornings-suspended in chains, low box squats, or a deadlift variation). You can do triples on the good mornings. I use variety of special bars for the squats and good mornings.
2) I rotate 4 exercises doing only one of these per week: Dimel deadlifts, stiff-legged deadlifts, band deadlifts, and high pulls. I like to do 3 sets of 10 on the Dimels and stiff legs. For the band deads and high pulls I like to do 3 sets of 3 reps.
3) Reverse hypers: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
4) Leg raises: 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps
5) Lat pulldowns: 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
Sunday evening (extra workout)
1) Band pushdowns: 100 total reps
2) 3 trips of upper body dragging or 10-15 minutes of medicine ball work
BY: This would not be complete without thanking some people. Thanks Mike and Jake for the interview, I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks to the folks at Inzer Advance designs for putting up with all of my alteration requests and putting out the best equipment. Thanks to both Dave Tate and Louie Simmons. I have learned more from the two of you than I could ever repay you for. You have both helped me achieve goals I once thought were impossible! To Todd Brock, Gabe Reitter, Bob Coe, Jeff Adams, Jed Willoughby, Dave Bosler, Traci Tate, Amy Weisberger and the rest of the Westside Barbell Club crew: You were all there for me everyday. My success is in large part due to these people pushing me in the gym every night. They support me in a way I can never thank them enough for. Thank you to my new training partners: Doug Hollis, Ed Rectenwald, Jay Macartney, Eric Martin, and Deb Toby. We all train together in my garage gym. The name of the gym is Southside Barbell Club. It is my way of saying thanks to all the great lifters in Columbus. The biggest thanks of all go to my wife Sarah. She is always there for me and allows me the space to pursue my dreams.