One Thing We Are Doing More Like Westside

Written by: Kevin Cann

That title is part click bait and part truth.  For those of you that know me, know that I feel that Westside style training is very inadequate for the raw powerlifter.  Multiply and raw are vastly different sports.

Best way I have heard it explained is through this analogy.  Racquetball and tennis are both racquet sports, but vastly different in how they are played.  The same goes for raw and multiply.

Westside definitely works for multiply.  I have seen many examples of this on the internet.  However, people have only told me that it works for raw.  I have never seen Louie Simmons at Raw Nationals or IPF Worlds.

With that said I think there are some things that can be taken from these programs and tweaked to make it more suitable for the raw lifter.  One of these aspects is the regular heavy singles.

We are starting to take heavy singles every week in training.  There is nothing more specific to powerlifting than taking heavy singles in the competition lifts.  This does not mean that we will be maxing out every week.

Hitting a max effort squat, bench, and deadlift every week can become psychologically daunting and is also risky for injury.  However, we can tweak things a bit to minimize these negatives.

For one, we do not need to max out every week.  Handling weights between 88% and 92% can yield very similar training effects as maxing out as heavier weights are a bit of a different movement pattern.  There are different physiological and psychological factors that go into lifting heavier weights.

Far away from a meet we will take heavy singles on the variations that we use.  These heavy singles will progress over time and will be programmed in a way that does not change the overall stress index of the program.

For example, we use pause squats quite a bit in training.  We may do 2 sec pause squats for 5 sets of 2 repetitions at 75%.  This now may look like, 2 sets of 2 at 75%, 2 sets of 1 at 80%, 2 sets of 2 at 75%.  As you can see, overall stress is similar, volume is similar, but we get a couple heavier singles.

A pause squat at 80% is no joke.  Over time we will increase the pause length to 3 seconds and then increase the weight.  We are never in a rush to increase weight.  We change it up enough to keep the athlete progressing and healthy at the same time.

For example, I may program 2 sets of 3 at 75% instead of 2 reps with singles staying the same.  We can bench before we squat, we can move this from day 1 to day 3 to change the difficulty as well as the accumulated fatigue from the week would affect the training.

Once the athlete shows that he or she can own that weight under any circumstances is when we progress training.  As the meet draws closer this will become singles in the competition lifts at 88% to 92% of one rep max.

The more the athlete performs repetitions at this weight, the less stressful it is to that athlete.  Leading into a test this may look like 2-3 singles at 88% for a 1-2 weeks, 2-3 singles at 90% for 1-2 weeks, and may get as high as 92% for a single.  There will be a quick deload week and then we will test and taper.

We have already instituted this change and I am liking what I am seeing.  As a coach you should be constantly analyzing and assessing what works and what can be improved upon.  This is how you get better over time.

About Kevin Cann 33 Articles
Precision Powerlifting Systems is based out of Boston, Mass. Head Coach Kevin Cann leads the raw and single ply powerlifting team through individualized programming leading up to local, regional, national, and international level USA Powerlifting meets. Coach Kevin has worked as a nutritionist and strength coach for several facilities in the greater Boston area including Harvard University and Total Performance Sports. He holds a master’s degree in kinesiology from A.T. Still University and a bachelor’s degree in health and wellness from Kaplan University. Currently, Coach Kevin competes in the 105kg class in USA Powerlifting as both a raw and equipped open lifter and was under the tutelage of former team Russia powerlifting coach and coaching legend, Boris Sheiko, from 2015-2018. Kevin utilizes many of Sheiko’s legendary methods in his programs. This includes the belief that technique is the most important aspect of training. Not only has Kevin been a long term student of Sheiko’s, he also possesses his Master’s Degree in Kinesiology, the science of human movement. The combination of his Master’s degree and time spent working with the legendary coach has awarded him with the skills to thoroughly analyze your lifts and utilize the right variations, weights, and repetitions to improve your technique and continue to steadily progress over time. Through Kevin’s experiences coaching, he has made many adjustments to the program to allow for the success of his lifters. PPS has had an Arnold qualifier every year in its existence, a top 5 national total, 2 top 10 totals, and many top 20 totals nationally. Kevin combined what he learned from Sheiko with a conjugate trining style. He learned that nothing builds 1RM strength like practicing singles. He uses a constraints-led approach with the singles. The variation allows for the athlete to continually take max singles without seeing a decrease in performance. Kevin will use variations that punish technical inefficiency and only leaves room to complete the task with a more technically efficient strategy. Heavy singles also works the psychological components of the sport. Oftentimes this goes untrained and is the largest weakness in a lifter. Along with the max effort work, PPS lifters perform sub maximal work to continue to increase technical proficiency within the lifts. Some of this technique work utilizes special exercises that Kevin learned from Boris Sheiko himself. PPS supports raw, drug free powerlifting. Kevin has coached numerous athletes that have qualified for USAPL Nationals as well as the USAPL competitions at the Arnold Sports Festival. Cost for coaching is tiered and ranges from $125 to $200 per month depending on the services required. This includes an individualized program based around your needs as an athlete as well as feedback on your lifts from videos. Text support as you are training, weekly voice memos explaining details about the upcoming week, and bi-weekly training meetings with the team to discuss training concepts is part of the tier 1 service. For more information email Kevin directly at