If you’re a competitive lifter, your “core” lifts are your actual competitive lifts (clean & jerk and snatch for O-lifters and squat, bench, and deadlift for powerlifters).

Historically, most lifters have tended to go intense & heavy on the core lifts, and then a bit lighter on the assistance lifts. In recent years, powerlifting maverick Louie Simmons turned the traditional paradigm upside down: his Westside charges go moderate and fast on the core lifts, and then get down to business, going super-heavy on the assistance lifts.

Here’s why this approach CAN work very well, especially for experienced lifters:

If you’re experienced, you’re fairly near your ultimate potential. This means that it’s hard to make new PR’s on your core lifts, because those are the lifts you’ve been doing the longest and hardest. Therefore, if you’re an Olympic lifter for example, you’ll have a lot more emotional and psychological angst surrounding your two competitive lifts than you will for assistance lifts like pulls, squats, and so on.

That said, follow me for a second…

If you focus mostly on hitting good numbers on your core lifts, and you don’t do so well, you’ll find yourself getting frustrated and depressed. This further increases future angst. BUT…if you instead train the core lifts moderately, and seek big numbers on the assistance lifts, one of two things can happen:

1) If you do well on the assistance lifts, you think “Great- this should “leak over” into my core lifts.” (if I’ve chosen the right assistance lifts anyway). Or…

2) If you don’t do well, you’ll think “Well, they’re only assistance lifts.” No sweat. It’s a lot better for your confidence.

That’s my take…what’s yours?

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“One of the signs of a great teacher is the ability to make the subject matter seem simple. Charles Staley is one of these rare teachers. After listening and talking to him, you suddenly achieve a new awareness of training. You go to the gym and, suddenly, everything makes sense, and you wonder why you haven’t been doing it his way since day one.” – Muscle Media 2000 magazine August, 1999


Prominent both the United States and across the globe, Charles is recognized as an insightful coach and innovator in the field of human performance. His knowledge, skills and reputation have lead to appearances on NBC's The TODAY Show and The CBS Early Show, along with numerous radio appearances.


He has authored more than a thousand articles for leading fitness publications and websites, and has lectured to eager audiences around the World.


Charles is not only a thinker, but also a doer: At age 54, he competes in the sport of raw powerlifting, and is a 2-time World Champion (220 and 198-pound weight classes). Find Charles online at www.TargetFocusFitness.com.