Top Set Conjugate Powerlifting Training – Week 1

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I’ve been doing some soul-searching and have come to realize that I needed some guidance with my training programming, so that I could stop focusing on the details on paper and more on the work that needs to be done.

Also, I have been really struggling to understand how my strength took such a drop since before starting Smolov. This has been extremely frustrating and is part of the reason I reached out to get some assistance with programming.

I feel that another part of the reason for my loss of strength and progression was that my body was adapting to me doing the same lifts with the same loads again and again. To be honest, I don’t know and I have a lot to learn. So, I reached out and payed for a 16-week Conjugate Powerlifting Program from Burely Hawk; who is a super strong dude that has a lot of experience and is knowledgeable about powerlifting, specifically the conjugate method popular by Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell.

So, moving forward from this point on I will be officially doing the conjugate method for my powerlifting training which consists of a 4 days per week training routine that is a lower/ upper-body split. This will be a big change because I have been doing full-body training for a while now.

The conjugate system really makes the most sense when you think about having a complete training program that covers all aspects of strength training at the same time versus broken into blocks or phases that specialize in one area for a given time. The conjugate method is constantly changing with every workout, so your body does not get the chance to adapt to the training and result in stalled progress.

I am super excited to start this new program and I have a good feeling about the next 16 weeks. To continue my pursuit to become as strong as possible is the mission. It’s like I have a crazy thought that I have the potential to be super strong, but I just have not unlocked it yet. Like when you’re playing a video game and you start with basic powers, but you know that with dedication you can beat levels and obtain new strengths. My motivation is the fact that I know I am capable of a lot more than where I am currently at now and I will use this to help push me to reach new levels strength.

Week 1

Day 1 – 12/10/18

ME Lower

  • 3″ Mat Sumo Deadlift: 455×3, 475×3
  • 3″ Deficit Deadlift: 350 4×5
  • Pendlay Rows: 135 4×8
  • SSB Goodmornings: 150+Light Bands 5×5
  • KB Swings: 50 4×25
  • Abs: 4×20

Note: Awesome day! Felt great and this is a rep PR with the main lift.

Day 2 – 12/12/18

ME Upper

  • Competition Bench Press: 230×3
  • Close Grip 2 Board with Doubled Mini Bands:95×10, 115×8, 120×8,8
  • Triceps Pressdowns with Fat Gripz: 80×12, 90 3×12
  • Barbell Rows: 225 4×6
  • Lat Pulldowns: 130 4×12
  • Hammer Curls: 40’s 5×12
  • Lateral Raises: 25 5×12

Note: I am not happy with my bench at all, I know that I should be a lot stronger than I am, so it’s quite frustrating. The close grip 2 board with bands was hella humbling because it felt crazy tuff. Everything else felt great!

Day 3 – 12/14/18

DE Lower

  • Box Squats with Average Bands: 210 10×2
  • Cambered Bar Goodmornings: 290 5×5
  • Hatfield Squat: 320 4×10
  • Glute Hamstring Developer: Bw 4×10
  • Reverse Hyper: 200 4×10
  • Abs: 5×20

Note: Felt challenging because I haven’t done much box squatting with bands, so it took a little getting used to, but overall moved well for the day. Hatfield squats I felt for a week after, so quads where on fire! Still trying to figure out the GHD, but doing what I can.

Day 4 – 12/15/18

DE Upper

  • Speed Bench Press with Doubled Mini Bands: 135 10×3
  • Seated OHP: 160 2×3
  • Rolling Dumbbell Triceps Extensions: 50’s 4×10
  • Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns: 170 5×10
  • Chest Supported Rows: 90 4×12
  • Triceps Pressdowns: 85 4×12
  • Dumbbell Curls: 30’s 5×12
  • Lateral Raises: 30’s 4×10

Note: Went well, speed bench is a great way to get a lot of volume done in a short period of time. I did 30 reps in less than 15 min. Did a bunch of accessories after.

The Westside Way!

This was a great week and everything just made sense. It’s nice to not have to second guess what your program is saying. This was one of my biggest problems, I would begin to overthink my own programming and wonder if I could be doing something better or should I be doing more or should I be doing less.

The main staple of my training previously was mostly compound lifts specific to the competition lifts with minor variations, but typically using the same bar. Now, I am using more variations with different bars and less frequency with the same lifts. With conjugate you have 72 hrs rest between your max effort and dynamic effort workouts. I feel this has definitely allowed for some well needed recovery to allow my body to not feel so beat up day after day like how I felt before when I squatted and benched every day.

I did not have a solid understanding on exercise selection to keep progress moving forward, resulting in my progress being stalled and even regressed. I am doing whatever it takes to get back on track and learn from this programming so that I can move forward in the future and continually make strength gains and possibly be able to pass on what I have learned to my sons and also others that may need help setting up a strength training program. You don’t want to fall into the trap of block periodization that will lead you to nowhere eventually.

After this week of training I’m feeling like Pac “It’s Westside till I Die!” because it just feels right. Why would you not do what makes you feel the most motivated to become the best you. With the conjugate method there are a ton of accessory exercises that is basically bodybuilding; putting on muscle to build weak areas in your lifts. Who doesn’t want to be jacked and strong? I do!

So, this is my update on how my training is going and a message to say don’t stop learning and always seek to educate yourself with proven information that will help you reach your goals.

Until next time, Keep pushing!

Let me know how your training is going and what kind of strength program you follow. If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them below.

The road to nowhere is paved with excuses.-Mark Bell





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Marcus is a man of God, married to a wonderful women and has 4 children. He is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and aspiring Powerlifter. He has a passion for helping others achieve personal growth through a healthy fitness and nutrition based lifestyle. With hard work and dedication anything is possible. God bless

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