Programming Question - Where to work in assistance exercises

Discussion in 'Strength & Conditioning Discussion' started by SuperAlly, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. SuperAlly

    SuperAlly Blue Belt

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    Firstly, apologies if this is covered in the FAQ but I had previously read that and don't remember seeing this.

    I currently have three lifting sessions a week.

    1 - Focus Squats and Bench
    2 - Focus Deadlift
    3 - Focus OHP and Clean

    I am wondering how best to programme assistance work.

    Previously I have been doing bent rows and lunges on day 1. I have just been focusing on the main lfift(s) each day and then throwing in assistance to have a whole session comprising at least one push, one pull and one leg exercise across the entire session.

    My question is should I look to keep say pull assistance work seperate to my DL day or should I try and keep assistance work the same day as DLs or should I continue with having my sessions include all 3 types; push, pull, legs?

    Thanks in advance for any help, flaming and abuse. :icon_chee
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2010
  2. ToxicShocker

    ToxicShocker Red Belt

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  3. scoopj

    scoopj ackson

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    If you find that you're sufficiently recovering the way you're doing it now and you're happy with your gains, keep doing it. Personally, I like to space out my pushing and pulling and just focus on one or the other to give more time for recovery, but that's just my preference and what works for me at my current work capacity.
     
  4. rckvl

    rckvl Blue Belt

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    That depends. If you are a beginner I wouldn't do much, if any, other than the main lifts. What is your reason for wanting to add assistance work?
     
  5. SuperAlly

    SuperAlly Blue Belt

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    Define beginner.

    My lifting over my life has not been consistent. Has been pretty consistent now for 18 months.

    I don't know about 1RM for some of the big lifts, particularly squats. We dont have a squat rack, so I either front squat which is limited by my ability to Clean the weight. Or lift the weight out of the bench press rack which is awkward and I can't test a max with that as there is no room for failure. I have to be able to re-rack the weight. I kind of half GM the weight off the pins.

    Have DL 150kg for 3 or 4 reps.
    Have Benched a little over 100kg.
    Same for squats although as I say it is severely limited by my gym and its equipment.
    Edit forgot to add my BW is approximately 77kg.

    Does that still make me a beginner? (Not being smart, genuine question).
     
  6. pliftkl

    pliftkl Green Belt

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    There are several schools of thought on assistance exercises:

    1. Don't do any.
    2. Do them all every workout
    3. Do the assistance exercises that are related to your primary lift on the day that you did that primary lift.
    4. Do the assistance exercises that are associated with a primary lift on a different day than the primary lift.

    If you are asking "which one is best", I think you'll find a wide variety of answers and no clear correct answer. If you poke through the training logs here, you'll find people doing each of the 4. Which one works for you is probably going to require some experimentation on your part, and this may be dependent on other factors (your diet, other training that you do in the week).
     
  7. rckvl

    rckvl Blue Belt

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    Are you able to make progress(weight, reps, less time between sets etc) every training session? Also what was the reason for the assistance work?
     
  8. SuperAlly

    SuperAlly Blue Belt

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    Currently, no I would not say every session. Depends on the exercises but found my Deadlift stalling and difficult to make progress.

    Aim of the assistance is merely to help with main lifts; squat, dead, bench, ohp. And to fit some unilateral work in, e.g. lunges to help iron out any imbalances.
     
  9. Kennethguye

    Kennethguye Yellow Belt

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    Do the assistance exercises that are related to your primary lift on the day that you did primary lift.
     
  10. SuperAlly

    SuperAlly Blue Belt

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    At the minute I am closest to no. 2 I guess.

    Kenneth is recommending 3.

    I'm not seeing the gains that perhaps I should (although programming is not the sole issue here, diet and consistency are also an issue) and was considering following no. 4.

    I may stick with what I am doing, but change up the exercises some. I may try 3 or 4. I will await further advice from rckvl and any others before making a decision though.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2010
  11. rckvl

    rckvl Blue Belt

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    So what exactly are you doing on the three days a week and how are you progressing whatever lifts you are doing?

    I'm going to train now so I will offer specific advice when I get back though I won't be surprised if Tosa or Miaou beats me too it.
     
  12. SuperAlly

    SuperAlly Blue Belt

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    Currently 5x5 Squats, Bench 1 day. Assistance 3x8.
    Day 2 5x5 DL Assistance 3x8
    Day 3 5x5 Clean, OHP. Assistance 3x8

    I Snatch on day 2 as well, but my technique is so poor I can't manage more than about 5 sets maxing at 40kg for a single or double.

    I had been doing 3x5 with the assistance but read on here that some people recommended doing more reps for the assistance work so cut the weights a little and went up to 8 reps. It's hard for me to fully assuage the effects if this change as I would have to say that I have not been as consistent since that change due to holidays amongst other issues.
     
  13. rckvl

    rckvl Blue Belt

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    What specific assistance lifts are you doing each day? How are you progressing on the main lifts? As in do you add weight(how much?) to the bar each training session? I can tell you now I wouldn't do 5x5 for deadlifts, even on their own day. I would do 3 sets maximum. Since you are snatching on that day I might even go for 1 work set, but that kind of depends. I would do the snatching before the deadlifts if you aren't already.
     
  14. SuperAlly

    SuperAlly Blue Belt

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    I swapped to 3x5 DL when the weight started getting too much. Around 130/135kg for me. Then made progress to around 140/150kg and stalled. I wondered if that was due to the lack of volume and went back to 5x5 but have still struggled. So it seems I initially made the right decision but went back on it. I do snatch first. Because the weight is fairly pathetic I dont imagine it would harm my DL any and obviously is better to do it that way around.

    Recently;
    Day 1 Squat 5x5
    Bench 5x5
    Bent Row 3x8
    Lunge 3x6 each leg
    Shrugs 3x8

    Day 2 Snatch 5 sets 1-3 reps increasing weight to about 40kg
    DL 5x5
    Triceps press (narrow bench press) 3x8
    Chins 3x8
    Pistols 3x6 each leg

    Day 3 Clean 5 sets 1-4 reps upto about 85kg as a max
    Front squats 3x8
    OHP 5x5
    Step ups 3x6 each leg
    Pull Ups 3x8
    _______________________________________________

    I think I may go back to 3x5 deads then as sometimes I just don't look forward to day 2.

    [I was trying to avoid bringing this up as I think I will now get dragged off my initial question but I have been trying to throw in work on OLs as I want to be a S+C coach. So I am happy to somewhat sacrifice work on my OHP to fit in the cleans and as my Snatch is so puny don't think this harms my DL.

    It may not be optimal for strength gains, but it allows me to seek strength improvements and work on OL technique which are my dual aims. I know I will now most likely get caned for not just following SS or Bill Starr but, again, I dont think (but am happy to be proved wrong) those programmes would allow me to chase the two aims. I fully understand that I would make better strength gains just doing a programme from one of those coaches who knows far more than me, but I don't think they allow me to chase two aims at the same time and think this should be possible to some extent. Once my OLs are better (technically speaking) I will return to primarily focusing on strength.]
     
  15. Tosa

    Tosa Red Belt

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    First, rearrange the days so it's

    1) Squat, Bench
    2) Cleans
    3) Deadlift, overhead press

    Cleans, being a dynamic lift, are generally easier to recover from, so make more sense in the middle of the week.

    As for assistance, it's going to depend on why you're doing a particular assistance exercise. Upper back work you can do every workout, either chins or BORs, and can go fairly heavy with. You can also include facepulls and DB rows, which would typically be for higher reps. You might alternate heavier back work with lighter higher rep back work. So maybe something like: Day 1) Heavy chins or BORs, Day 2) Face pulls, Day 3) Higher rep chins or DB rows.

    Then there's assistance for squats/DLs. What exercises you do here is going to depend on your work capacity, weaknesses, etc. You could potentially do some front squats/other squat variant or heavy posterior chain work - front squats on deadlift day, PC work on squat day, or the other way around. Otherwise probably some sort of unilaterall exercise like lunges, done light on day 2, heavier on day 3, and some sort of posterior chain exercise on day 1...maybe light good mornings.

    And for bench, it could be some back off sets with long pauses, DB bench, tricep work or Shoulder work. this could be done after bench and OHP, or as a light pressing work on day 2.

    Given the lower volume of your routine, it'll probably work well for you to have more volume/intensity for your accessory work. But to some degree you'll have to experiment and figure things out for yourself.

    Read this. I'm not suggesting you follow this routine (although you could) but read about the assistance work.
    Google the Westside Template and Jim Wendler

    And compare that to the assistance work in Sheiko. Which is on the ligther side, and done with more emphasis on mobility/recovery. Most often light GMs (maybe 30-40% of squat weight), lunges, and flies.
     
  16. SuperAlly

    SuperAlly Blue Belt

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    Thanks for the reply.

    Took a deep breath before reading the first reply. Was expecting to get completely annihilated so it's not all bad.

    To some extent I have done some tweaking of my routine to find out what works for me, but tried to avoid change for changes sake and also just not sticking to a routine.

    Whilst I see your logic for changing the days about; my way there is a small gap between squats and DL. Your way there would be a small gap betwen DL and squat. Working on the principle of a 7 day or weekly rotation.

    E.g. with my version say it was squat tues, dead thurs/fri, ohp sat/sun (depending on when dead).

    So 1-2 full day between squat and DL.

    If I swapped to your way squat tues, clean/ohp thurs/fri, DL sat/sun.

    That would be 1-2 days between DL and squat.

    Do you see what I am saying? Why is your way better? Not being smart again, genuine question.

    (I don't lift weights monday as I play football, well soccer to most of you).

    I will look to take advantage of the rest of your advice, but although its only a few lines for you it's a lot to get my head around and will be easier when I write down the alternatives.

    Will read through that link too.

    Btw, are you suggesting that my routine is lacking in volume and I could potentially add more? I was trying to avoid the trap some fall into of perhaps adding too much assistance plus the idea of little volume higher intensity appeals to me and means I don't spend too long in the gym.
     
  17. pliftkl

    pliftkl Green Belt

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    When he posted that, I almost jumped in to point out that what he's suggesting is probably based on a MWF workout, while someone who was on a MWSa workout would now have only a single day of rest between Deadlift and Squat, which would mean the clean day should probably be Monday...

    Also, there's nothing magical about a week. You can always tell convention to shove it and lift on a longer rotation to help with recovery. I tend to work on an 8-9 day cycle, but I'm old.
     
  18. SuperAlly

    SuperAlly Blue Belt

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    Yeh, thats most definitely true about having a longer rotation. We/I only use 7 days because of our calendar. I guess it just fits well with most people's lives and is easier to think of a cycle of your training programme as a week.

    However, considering I work in a gym and do not work a typical mon-fri 9-5 there is no reason for me not to take advantage of that and find a cycle that works best for me.

    Having said that I am reasonably comfortable with the 7 day cycle unless anyone can give me a compelling argument not too.
     
  19. Tosa

    Tosa Red Belt

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    I was thinking along the lines of MWF. So if what I said about rearranging days doesn't fit, ignore it.

    No, not lacking volume. But if you're only doing 5 main lifts over 3 days, it means that you can put more volume and intensity into your accessory work than if you were doing something like 9 main lifts over 3 days.
     
  20. EchoBoomer

    EchoBoomer Banned Banned

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    I fink your freaky...
    1) Your ASSISTANCE work, should target your weakest link in your main lifts.

    * During your back squat/deadlift (Main Lift) you notice you tend to hunch over when you unrack the weight. You know to keep your chest up, but you just can't do it. Your legs are strong enough to move the weight you just have trouble maintaining back extension.

    So for your assistance movements, you work on maintaining your back extension...
    - heavy shrugs
    - Heavy rack pulls
    - bent over rows
    - romanian deadlifts

    Your ACCESSORY work, should be whatever you need to make your main lifts better.

    * When back squatting you are very uncomfortable in the hole and you know this because of your poor hip mobility.

    So for your accessory movements you work on hip mobility...
    - Your going to need to research mobility, but i'm not going to leave without pointing you in the right direction.

    ===> Kelly Starrett

    and

    ===> Mobility WOD

    Just my 2c,
    - Rene
     

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