Legendary Powerlifter and Founder of Westside Barbell Louie Simmons Dies at 74 Years Old

Simmons is credited with creating the conjugate method, is the founder of Westside Barbell, and was a world-class powerlifter.

Louie Simmons, legendary powerlifter, coach, founder of Westside Barbell, inventor, and the man credited as the mastermind behind conjugate training has reportedly died at the age of 74. At the time of this article’s publication, it’s not clear exactly when Simmons passed or what his cause of death was.

Westside Barbell announced Simmons’ passing on their official Instagram page on Mar. 24, 2022.


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“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Louie Simmons,” the post reads. “We will make a formal announcement after we process the loss.” The post also contains an excerpt from Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ famous poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”;

“Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” 

The Legacy of Louie Simmons

Louie Simmons was born on Oct. 12, 1947. He fell in love with weight training early on and entered the world of powerlifting in his early 20s. He would spend the next 50 years of his life coaching some of the sport’s most notable and elite competitors — including Chuck Vogelphol, EliteFTS founder Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, and J.M. Blakely.

Simmons is the founder of the famed Westside Barbell gym, located in Columbus, OH, and invented both the reverse hyper and belt squat machines. He also developed the conjugate training method, sometimes called the Westside Barbell Conjugate Method, which helped popularize the use of chains and resistance bands as a way of adding accommodating resistance to specific lifts.

Simmons was also an accomplished athlete himself. According to Open Powerlifting, he competed from 1979 until his final meet in 2012. Simmons mostly competed in equipped powerlifting, which allows the use of bench shirts and squat suits.

His best lifts in competition, having competed in the 100 and 110-kilogram classes, are as follows:

  • Squat (Single-Ply) — 821 pounds
  • Squat (Multi-Ply) — 920 pounds
  • Bench Press (Raw) — 496 pounds
  • Bench Press (Single-Ply) — 530 pounds
  • Bench Press (Multi-Ply) — 600 pounds
  • Deadlift (Single-Ply) — 705 pounds
  • Deadlift (Multi-Ply) — 715 pounds

In 2019, the documentary Westside vs. The World was released. The film, which chronicled Simmons’ myriad contributions to strength sport and his provocative and controversial powerlifting club, served to introduce Simmons and Westside Barbell to a new generation of fans. The documentary is available to rent and purchase on Amazon Prime. 

The Powerlifting Community Reacts

Shortly after news of Simmons’ passing broke, a handful of notable powerlifters reached out to BarBend and posted on social media to react to the news of his death. 

Ed Coan

“There will never be an individual so obsessed with powerlifting and strength. He lived and loved it all.”

Dan Bell

“I’m honestly still in shock. I really never believed the guy would go. I pray one day to have a legacy that will equal a fraction of what his [legacy] is and always will be.”

C.T. Fletcher

“I learned a lot from Louie Simmons. RIP Legend.” 

Matt Wenning

“Rest easy, brother, you’ve changed many of us for the better, and that’s all we can really achieve in this life.” 

Julius Maddox

“Rest in peace, Legend. Me and Lou had a seminar last year at Strength Beyond Fitness, and I’m forever grateful for that experience.”

BarBend will update this article with more details of Simmons’ passing as they become public.

Featured Image: @westsidebarbellofficial on Instagram