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View Full Version : Advanced raw benchers. How LITTLE assistance can you get away with?



Judas
04-24-2013, 04:14 AM
I sure hope someone reads all this...


For those pushing a raw 500, or maybe double bodyweight in the higher weight classes, i have a question.

I've historically done a LOT ov assistance for my bench... like two consecutive days pretty much (bench + heavy bench assist + pecs day 1, bench-specific upper back and arms day 2). Done this for the better part ov a decade, and its served me VERY well. I think my bench is decent now, but i've had to put on a solid 60lbs ov LBM to combat my leverage disadvantage (long-ass arms).

Recently, due to mostly other gym stuff non-bench related, i've developed a few nagging tweaks, nags and injuries that make doing my usual assistance difficult or at times even impossible. Wrists, elbows and most recently, a tricep pull. Training triceps the last month has been miserable, WHEN i can even do it. Tonight i was able to do 50lb pressdowns for sets ov 20, usually its closer to 300lbs (not for 20).

My bench has been going up. This, to me at least, was predictable. After years ov brutal assistance volume and intensity, laying right off has let my bench take off. I'm just wondering, how long will this last? Can i not maintain, but continue to build my bench without any real arm work? My goal for 2013 was another 35lbs on the bench, which looks VERY doable. But without hitting the good tricep movements? (JM's, skullcrushers, DB extension, heavy press-downs, dips, etc.)

Anyone here make big gains JUST doing bench and say one big bench assistance (incline bench, DB's, press, close-grip, boards, etc.) then leave?

I just feel so goddamn lazy skipping out on all the stuff that made my bench gain so madly in the first place.

Travis Bell
04-24-2013, 10:50 AM
I would not recommend going two days in a row like that.

There is no reason why you can't get it all done on one day.

You're trying to go from one extreme to another and it won't work well. I do my main ME exercise, one pressing exercise, one or two tricep exercises, one or two back exercises and a rear delt exercise. All on an hour and a half or so.

ScottYard
04-24-2013, 01:47 PM
Find a happy medium. Rest is important but it is also important to work the triceps, lats, upper back, and delts atleast once a week. Dont be a body builder but do something. I focus more on the restorative things more then assistance work though. You need to be healthy and mobile to do anything at all.

Judas
04-24-2013, 04:38 PM
I would not recommend going two days in a row like that.

There is no reason why you can't get it all done on one day.

You're trying to go from one extreme to another and it won't work well. I do my main ME exercise, one pressing exercise, one or two tricep exercises, one or two back exercises and a rear delt exercise. All on an hour and a half or so.

Oh i could get it all done in a day easily, but i also squat and dead on bench day too... so to keep everything happy and attached i split the bench assistance into two consecutive days.

Do you go heavy on the assistance stuff like back and arms?

Judas
04-24-2013, 04:40 PM
Find a happy medium. Rest is important but it is also important to work the triceps, lats, upper back, and delts atleast once a week. Dont be a body builder but do something. I focus more on the restorative things more then assistance work though. You need to be healthy and mobile to do anything at all.

I should have also mentioned that my triceps are disproportionately strong. They dont need the same amount ov work that a more balanced (or geared) bencher would need. Not at the moment anyways.

How heavy on the assistance do YOU go?

Travis Bell
04-24-2013, 04:58 PM
Oh i could get it all done in a day easily, but i also squat and dead on bench day too... so to keep everything happy and attached i split the bench assistance into two consecutive days.

Do you go heavy on the assistance stuff like back and arms?

Ah. I remember now. You do a lot of oly lifting as well correct?

Yeah I'd hit a tricep movement, back movement and rotate in rear delt work or overhead work.

On max effort day I do go heavy on tricep and back work. On dynamic effort day I go lighter in weight and higher in reps.

Judas
04-24-2013, 05:36 PM
Ah. I remember now. You do a lot of oly lifting as well correct?

Yeah I'd hit a tricep movement, back movement and rotate in rear delt work or overhead work.

On max effort day I do go heavy on tricep and back work. On dynamic effort day I go lighter in weight and higher in reps.

Well, normally yes, but right now i cant do a lot ov Olympic stuff... too hard on everything else and i'm currently peaking for a PL comp. I generally hit everything twice in 8 days. I've been doing a light/heavy scheme as well lately too... Heavy on day 1, not as heavy on day 5, heavy again on next day one (8-day 'week').

Do you ever try and 'PR' your assistance stuff? or is it still not quite that heavy?

Travis Bell
04-24-2013, 07:37 PM
No I don't try and PR on assistance stuff. It's more like sets of 8 reps.

chris mason
04-24-2013, 07:50 PM
If you are having all of those joint issues you are overusing them. You need to find a way to get your work in without doing so.

If your lifts are moving up without all of the assistance work, with a lot less training, WHAT does that tell you?

Judas
04-25-2013, 03:18 AM
No I don't try and PR on assistance stuff. It's more like sets of 8 reps.

Heh... believe it or not... this was what i wanted to hear.

Judas
04-25-2013, 03:24 AM
If you are having all of those joint issues you are overusing them. You need to find a way to get your work in without doing so.

Yes and yes. Fully agree. Its just the Olympic lifting thats pushing me into the red. Without that i'd be in perfect health. That minor tricep pull a few weeks ago (on a push-press no doubt) was the first bench/powerlifting-specific injury i've had in a looooooooooooonnng time. I'd even bet that had i been able to lift at a proper club the last few years (since really getting into O-lifting) i'd have FAR fewer issues than i have now. My gym situation the last few years has been a perfect storm ov bullshit. Its all sorted now, but the damage has been done.


If your lifts are moving up without all of the assistance work, with a lot less training, WHAT does that tell you?

Yes, i know... my question was how long will it last. I wonder if i can 'less-is-more' it all the way to another 35lbs on the bench...

Ya gotta excuse my disbelief... this is NOT how i'm used to training.

vdizenzo
04-25-2013, 05:43 AM
Presently, I am doing much less tricep assistance. However, I am making that up with bench volume. This is not exactly what you are looking for and I cannot even tell you if it has worked yet. The proof will be in the results.

I can tell you this, I have had a very bad nagging pec/shoulder/bicep tendon issue for a long time. Working things out with Josh, I am now only benching once a week. This has helped tremendously with that nagging area. We also pull out any exercise that bothers it.

At my age, the days of working through things is "mostly" over. I'd much rather find an intelligent way to work around things.

ScottYard
04-25-2013, 07:13 PM
I should have also mentioned that my triceps are disproportionately strong. They dont need the same amount ov work that a more balanced (or geared) bencher would need. Not at the moment anyways.

How heavy on the assistance do YOU go?

Typically i do 4-5 sets and pyramid up to a tough set of 8. Sometimes if im feeling crazy I pick and weight and do 3 sets 8 with the same weight that might be a hair lighter then a weight that I would typically work up to in the aforementioned way. I dont over think it though. After my main movements Im typically pushed for time and need to get things done to get home.

Judas
04-26-2013, 03:32 AM
Presently, I am doing much less tricep assistance. However, I am making that up with bench volume. This is not exactly what you are looking for and I cannot even tell you if it has worked yet. The proof will be in the results.

I can tell you this, I have had a very bad nagging pec/shoulder/bicep tendon issue for a long time. Working things out with Josh, I am now only benching once a week. This has helped tremendously with that nagging area. We also pull out any exercise that bothers it.

At my age, the days of working through things is "mostly" over. I'd much rather find an intelligent way to work around things.

I was rather the opposite... Always looking for intelligent ways to get through things, when everyone around me was just beasting shit out. I'd almost started to lose the ability to do that, especially with squats, seems to get easier and easier to find excuses to train 'less is more' on squats these days...

One thing i did start doing recently is always benching my reps to full ROM. Might seem obvious to some, but i've typically pushed my reps past the sticking point, then started the next rep... missing the last few inches. With all the excess tricep work i've done, and all the off the chest reps, it just worked out really well all this time. Lately i've started locking out every rep, which was pretty hard for a while. That obviously helps keep the triceps working. This tricep pull i have right now doesn't seem to mind actually benching... just the isolation stuff.

Judas
04-26-2013, 03:35 AM
Typically i do 4-5 sets and pyramid up to a tough set of 8. Sometimes if im feeling crazy I pick and weight and do 3 sets 8 with the same weight that might be a hair lighter then a weight that I would typically work up to in the aforementioned way. I dont over think it though. After my main movements Im typically pushed for time and need to get things done to get home.

Hmmm... looks like you're all pretty much on the same page. I'm gonna try this (laying off) for the next couple comp cycles and see how things work out. I was just 'raised' on the premise that 'your triceps can NEVER be strong enough'... and probably took that a bit too far...