Straight to the Bar

All Things Strength


Westside Dead Lift Secrets
Written By : Scott Bird

Louie Simmons

Louie Simmons.

This review looks at the 2003 DVD edition of the Deadlift Secrets offering, which is an updated version of its early ’90s predecessor. Whilst there has been a significant amount of change to some aspects of the Westside approach, the fundamentals remain constant and this DVD helps to show just how important those fundamental concepts are.

This DVD shows how a Deadlift workout is arranged at Westside, and is packed with demos of various lifts, showing how they are performed correctly. Louie Simmons also discusses the reasons for including each lift, and offers an insight in how to structure a workout suited to your own physical requirements.

Running a little less than an hour, the DVD comprises the following chapters :

Louie briefly outlines the Westside credentials when it comes to deadlifting, and makes it quite clear that the following techniques have been used to excellent effect for some time.

Speed pulls
Using bands tied to a deadlift platform, keeping the lift to around the 40%-70% range, both conventional (Danny Blankenship) and sumo (Louie Simmons) styles are shown. The two lifters alternate using the same setup.

Rack pulls
These are performed in a power rack with the bar just below the knee. Louie notes that any rack pull greater than 10% above a lifter’s 1RM is pointless, as higher amounts will never be lifted in competition.

Lightened method
With the bar again in the power rack, bands are tied to the top of the rack and looped around the ends of the bar. The bands shown are used to take around 125lb off the bottom of the lift.

Maximal effort
This section is a discussion of some of the many exercises that may be performed on an ME day. The exercises demonstrated are :

Bent-over good morning
Box squat
GM using Safety Squat bar
Box squat using Safety Squat bar
GM using 14″ camber bar
Box squat using 14″ camber bar
Louie notes that the box squats are taken up to a max single, whereas the good mornings are worked up to a max triple.

Special exercises
This is a selection of exercises that may be used following the core exercises on either ME or DE day. The exercises demonstrated are :
Reverse hyper – using roller
Stand-up abs
Lat pulldowns (Louie notes that many varieties of bars are used for these)

GHR (glute-ham raise)

GHR (glute-ham raise).

GHR (glute-ham raise)
GHR with wide stance
Reverse hyper – using straps (Louie notes that long straps emphasise the hips, whilst short straps or a roller hit the lower back)
Zercher squats – using a strongman yoke
Leg curls – using reverse hyper machine
Straight leg sit-ups – using cheap GHR machine
Tread sled work – with straps tied to lower back
Seated calf raise – on seated calf raise machine
Virtual force swing

Land mine - using combat handle

Land mine – using combat handle.

Land mine – using combat handle
45 degree back raise
Bent back raise – using Back Attack machine
Arched back raise – using Back Attack machine
Lat work pulls (T-bar rows) – using bar + handles
Lat work pulls (T-bar rows) with wide grip – using stand
Belt squats on platform (Louie notes that Lunge squats can also be done using the same setup)
Using bands around ankles
Using bands around knees
Using bands around knees – seated on box, to bring hips below knees
Band good morning
Band upright row
Band leg curl
Band leg curl to side

Grip work
Louie notes that the Westside routines don’t include standard gripper or wrist roller work, as neither of these are considered effective ways to develop the grip strength required for powerlifting. The wrist roller in particular will certainly build large forearms, whilst doing little for the grip.

The primary items used are :

Ironmind’s Rolling Thunder
Hex dumbbell holds
Various custom grippers to work the fingers in different ways
Additionally, the high volume of speed pulls performed also works grip strength.

Dead lift technique
This section is brief, as the DVD already shows several lifters with excellent deadlift technique in action. The main points mentioned are :

  • push the feet out
  • raise head
  • straighten knees, hips and back at the same time


Louie concludes by restating his mix+match policy when it comes to exercise selection. He also mentions the frequency of workouts, the use of the GHR machine for warming up, and the policy of thorough stretching after a workout.

NB : Each chapter includes a brief review.

Speed pulls

Speed pulls.

This is an excellent DVD for anyone seeking greater information on the makeup of a Westside Squat/Deadlift workout (the same supplementary exercises are done for both), as well as anyone looking to see correct form for some of the more unusual movements – particularly those on Louie Simmons’ custom creations.

Over to you. Drop us a line on Twitter ( @scottbird ), or add a comment below.



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Written By Scott Bird
Scott is a long-time fitness enthusiast (Jan 2004!), writer and photographer living in Sydney, Australia. If you share the passion for spending a bit of time under a bar, welcome. Love hearing how everyone else trains. You can connect via X (Formerly Twitter), Facebook and the various networks listed in the sidebar.
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