View Full Version : Cycling assistance exercises

Ben Byram
11-26-2010, 10:42 AM

I'm an intermediate level trainee (about 3 years training properly) and my training is going okay currently - all my lifts are increasing...

However, I am unsure how best to apply the assistance work.

When progress stalls on the assistance exercises should I always change them to try and get as much benefit as possible from new movement patterns?

Should I just continue to pound away on the productive assistance moves even if progress has stalled providing the main lifts continue to improve?

Should I keep the most beneficial ones, just reset 10% or whatever and build back-up?

Essentially some assistance moves definitely work for me, e.g. RDL's, chins and dips. I'm unsure at what stage (if at all) I should try new exercises, or whether I should tinker with set/rep schemes in those moves more long-term. (Trunk stuff I just change every 8 weeks, but it's the other aspects I'm more concerned about).

I hope that makes sense... I welcome your input.



Brian DeGennaro
11-26-2010, 11:03 AM
Without taking a look at your training log, I will say this:

If your goal is to snatch and CJ more, then as long as that is improving you are doing something right.

Your energy should mostly be spent on snatching and CJ'ing more... not so much assistance exercises. IMO, assistance exercises should be short and quick, not consist up equal or similar volume and intensity as snatch/CJ.

On a cycle of where you are trying to push for bigger PRs or training for a meet, I would remove assistance exercises at least 4 weeks out.

Ben Byram
11-26-2010, 11:10 AM

Thanks for your response.

However, my aims are currently strength on the main barbell lifts. I obviously should have said that in my post. (Wouldn't mind weightlifting at some point, if there's anyone knows of any weightlifting clubs in northwest England?).

To add, I am not competing. Training is purely for fun.

Martin Bonn
11-26-2010, 02:45 PM
firstly, take brian's advice..if it ain't broke, don't fix it kinda thing....

also: check out bwla on google (british weighlifter's assoc.)
there are clubs in the north east i think. i train in bristol myself.

Ben Byram
11-27-2010, 05:52 AM

Thanks for the info. I checked out britishweightlifting.org and there's some clubs in the area, so that's good to know.

I appreciate what you are both saying, stick with whatever is working. Although it took me a few years of tinkering with programmes to realise, I do understand that now and intend to bleed all the gains I can out of any effective plan.

The point I am trying to make is that at some point I will be unable to progress on my favoured assistance exercises, specifically RDLS, chins and dips regardless of my progress on bench, squats and deadlifts. I'm trying to figure out the best course of action at that point. Are you saying I should stick with the assistance exercises until the main lifts stall, but not concern myself with my progress on RDL's, chins, dips, etc?

Although I'm not competing, should I drop all assistance work when the big 3 feel close to stalling and eek out a little more progress through improved recovery?

I'm just trying to get a general consensus of how people treat the assistance work with respect of when to change, when to stick with them, or whether to just fiddle with rep and sets on them if they're keepers.

I know they are not as important as the main barbell lifts, but they can make quite a difference. Does anyone have any recommendations through their own experience, or is this a classic case of paralysis by analysis?

Brian DeGennaro
11-27-2010, 11:21 AM
Treat assistance work as assistance work. It's complimenting your training not taking a significant portion of it. You "add as needed" with it (so yes, paralysis by analysis).

If your DL is weak off the floor, DL off a deficit.

If you get pinned at the bottom of a bench, bench from bottom pins.

If your back/hammies are weak, RDL/Good morning and back extensions.

Shoulders weak, press and chin and dip.

When these issues in the lifts clear up, you do not need to be doing the assistance exercises as much, just enough to "maintain" (like 1-2x/week).

Ben Byram
11-27-2010, 01:07 PM
Thanks, that has really clarified their purpose for me. Basically, I just needed a slap and refocusing on why I'm doing them in the first place. I will evaluate what I'm doing and think whether that is in line with addressing my weaknesses. I've just been looking at it wrong.