I really never know how to program reps and sets for assistance. I just make sure to get something done. I wish there was a little more science to. I'd like to hear everyones thoughts on this.
I like to have one main assistance lift
So for bench-CG bench
Deadlift- defecit deadlifts
I program that and then the rest I just do like 4x12 or 3x12 for the remain muscle groups I want to hit. Depends on how I feel.
It really depends on your goal Vincent. In your case it is absolute strength and you use Westside type principles, no?
In the Westside template the repetition method is used for the accessory work. This is because ME work is very taxing thus doing too much of it would result in overtraining.
You have to look at what basic ME and DE work focus on and that is the nervous system. In other words, the primary adaptation for both is neural in nature (with muscular being a little greater with DE work). So, in the Westside template you want your accessory work to target the skeletal muscle tissue itself.
Demonstrable strength is essentially a function of the force production capacity of the contractile portions of the skeletal muscles and the nervous system's ability to express it. If one portion of your training focuses on neural then you need the other to focus on the muscular in order to avoid overtraining yet permit the volume need to maximize progress.
Does that make sense?
So, in my book 3-4 exercises for 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps for most of the accessory work with some sets being of higher reps. Each set taken close to concentric failure in order to provide a maximum hypertrophy stimulus.
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On ME days I push heavier weight and lower the reps. I actually do 3 tricep exercises and then 2 back movements.
On DE days I go higher reps (12-20 reps) and usually 2 tricep exercises and 3 back movements.
The key is knowing yourself. If you don't feel like your pushing it, turn it up a little. Improving weaknesses doesnt happen just on accident. It takes a lot of work.
There are so many ways to skin a cat lol
I like the ME - lower volume/higher intensity/higher stress vs DE/RE - higher volume/lower intensity/lower stress split.
Say I want to do rows twice a week, let's say a Bench-Grip Tbar Row and a Neutral Grip Cable Row. I'd program the Tbar on ME day (3-4 s x 5-8 r) and cable Rows on DE Day (3-4s x 8-12 r). You could use the same approach for tricep accessories (JM Press vs. DB Rolling Extensions/Rope Pushdowns) or even biceps (BB Curl vs. Hammer DB Curls).
Farther out from a meet, program alot of general work, volume, and training density (supersets/clusters/etc.). Closer to a meet, try to program more training economy into your assistance (i.e. high row vs doing a row and a facepull) so you can focus on the more important main work.
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I made some changes this meet cycle for my assistance day. I picked 3 lifts. The chest supported row, the hammer shrug, and the standing curl. I tread them like my big 3. I started light and slowly added weight each week peeking at a 8 sp set pr for all three lifts. It's was better then just walking tbrough the motions.
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I like to have a template so you keep they type of exercise the same and rotate every 3 weeks. First week you aren't used to it and add weigt every week. Then switch to a similar exercise.
I'm a keep it simple / more-is-more kinda guy. My own programs are generally loose templates based around 3 phases (in about a 3-5 month period). Phase one is building the base - more hypertrophy, reps and general work. Phase two is equal hypertrophy (still building on that base) and intensity - back off to the usual 5-rep powerlifting style schemes here, yet stay heavy volume on the lighter assistance stuff. Phase three is pure power - low reps, less exercises, more weight, even my lighter assistance stuff will be lower rep work.
I have 2 bench/bench assistance days in an 4-day 'week'. Every 4 days. I'll work up to a daily 1-rep max (takes me about 10 sets), then back off for the set/rep scheme ov the day/phase. Then i'll do the next heaviest assistance: incline bench, incline DB's, military press, close-grip bench, board-presses, camber bar, basically... i work on instinct... whatever weakness needs to be addressed. Still could use a bit more mass? camber bar or incline DB's, need more lock-out or big-weight confidence? board presses, etc. etc. etc. In all but the last phase my assistance rep's are usually in the higher range. Then i'll do presses if i haven't already, and if i have already, then i'll stay light (seeing as thats already 2 big 'ME' movements) and do some flys, cable flys or pecdec type fluff.
I also split my bench day into two days. The upper back is equally as important for bench, so i like to hit it fresh. Day two is ALWAYS right after day one, no rest day. Barbell rows, seated BB row, lat pull, etc. I like two upper back exercises. Again, set/rep schemes will depend on what phase i'm in, or if there is a glaring weakness... fixing that. After back i hit the arms (again, i find they can be hit harder when fresh), heavy tricep movement (skullcrushers/DBX/JM press), then a medium tricep movement (pressdowns usually, varying attachments), then a very light finisher for more reps/less weight. The biceps get the same scheme right after.
So i basically 'bench' (read: powerbuild) for two days, then rest two days, then repeat, always alternating the exercises (except the daily max bench, always done first). Obviously i'm doing a lot ov other work in these days too... like olympic lifts, squats and deads. I basically train like a Chinese olympic lifter... lots ov ME exercises, often, lots ov work and daily maxes in at least 2 exercises a day, plus work sets. Find weaknesses, make them strengths, move onto the next weakness. Works VERY well, but not everyone can just jump into it.
Last edited by Judas; 11-13-2012 at 05:33 AM.
It really doesn't matter at all. Once you've done your main lift and the assistance lift you just train the muscles, not movements. Get a pump. As long as the main work is done, the rest is just filling in the blanks. Doesn't need to be, nor is it any more complicated than that.
4-5 weeks of "very general" meaning no variations of the main lift followed by 2-3 weeks of "less general" meaning variations of the main lifts. I dont know if my terminology is correct, my apologies if it isnt.