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Any Harm in Doing the Same Assistance Moves Each Training Day?

My thought is, I really don’t know which exercise choices will most help my performance on the big lifts. I know we can make general assumptions that chins will be better than curls, for example. But will incline DB presses help my bench better than close-grip benching will? How about good mornings vs RDLs for upping my squat?

So I’m thinking about trying a full 3-cycle, 12-week program where I use the same 3 movements for push, pull & single-leg/core across all training days. I’d still be open to varying intensity each day based on how I’m feeling, so deadlift day might require dialing it back a little compared to press day for example.

Then I check my progress at the end, and try the next 12-week cycle with a different 3 assistance choices.

Anybody tried this? And do you see any harm in the lacking variety?

you’re already making more assumptions than you should be. Context is key. If you’re doing multiple assistance exercises, it is not safe to assume that, say, chins are always better than something like rows and curls.

Same issue applies to your next 2 questions. Incline db presses are significantly different from close-grip benching. Neither is simply ‘better’ than the other. Both are useful. And same goes for good mornings vs RDL’s. All these depend on where YOUR INDIVIDUAL WEAKNESSES lie. And that’s a case by case thing.

So all the being said, every movement you’ve listed is a good one. If you’re choosing from good exercises, it’s not going to be a terrible thing to avoid variety. You can still improve. But I’m of the opinion that regular variation is a better choice than what your approach will be. You’re majoring in the minors though. Unless you’re lifting at an extraordinarily high level, like well above the elite marker in powerlifting, you won’t actually see a real difference between these approaches that you can attribute to the assistance movements themselves. And because of other life factors, you may actually end up being misled to think one 12 week cycle was better assistance-wise than another, simply because you made more progress based on factors you’re not considering. Maybe you got better sleep that cycle. Maybe you ate better. Etc.

Anyway. Best of luck. Overall message here is: don’t sweat the small stuff. Just lift regularly and with intensity and you’ll be just fine.


When you can no longer make progress on an assistance exercise its time to change. It may take 2 weeks, it may take 4. You will need to figure that out for yourself.

That being said, I’ll echo Dave Tate who said that you should know WHY you’re doing each movement. In other words assistance is meant to address weaknesses.

Ok, I STRONGLY disagree with this one. I don’t really want to speak for wendler, but I’m fairly certain he disagrees as well. I don’t think assistance work is about progression at all, because assistance work is rarely, if ever, done to failure. I’ve used between 20 lbs and 35 lbs for db curls on every set I’ve done for probably the last 5 years. I can’t say I’ve made discernible progress on any assistance movement in a long time, outside of maybe rows. 5x10 pullups have been a staple for me for as long as I can remember, and my back continually improves without altering that. As long as your main movements are moving up, I don’t see a reason to expect, or need, assistance exercises to progress.


Disagree all you want, but do you think that elite lifters like Ted Arcidi wasted their time doing Behind the Neck Presses with 405 +?

BTW how much progress have you made on the Bench (meet stats only. gym lifts mean shit) in 5 years? Just curious?

Agree with Flipcollar.
Assistance is, well assistance.

Main lift put all the effort in this
Supplemental put som effort in this
Assistance make the muscles work and never ever go to failure.
If you don’t tell Jim, sometimes I work hard on some assistance, that would be rows or chins.

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I definitely understand the whole “majoring in minors” thing, and that’s not my intention. I do track my assistance, but that’s just because I’m a journal geek. I haven’t normally been planning it out, and definitely don’t plan progressions for it.

But the point of assistance is to assist, not just to kill time getting a pump off of 50 reps of x, y, or z. So when Flipcollar says

that’s exactly my point. I want to hone in on which movements will best address my weaknesses.

Look, my squat flat out sucks. It’s 50% of my DL. So yeah, the main movement is my focus in terms of my energy. But if I’m on vanilla stuff like 5s PRO/BBB or PRs/FSL, then I’m only doing 8 work sets of squats per week. So even though the squat itself is the highest priority, I’m still expecting my assistance to be useful in bringing that lagging lift up to par.

to your first point… I have no idea what Ted Arcidi and heavy behind the neck presses have to do with ANYTHING. where in the world did that comment come from? I can’t make any sense out of it.

I’m also not sure why you’re asking about meet stats for bench. I’m not a competitive powerlifter, I compete in strongman. The last PL meet I did was 2 years ago, and I believe I benched 385 in the 181 class. I added about 70 lbs to my bench in that year. My bench hovers around that number still. I haven’t made any effort to increase it in the last 2 years. I HAVE improved my overhead pressing substantially. I’ve added about 80 lbs or so to my log press. I don’t know if that’s useful to you or not.

this is more useful information. Telling us where your weaknesses lie, and what your goals are, can help us determine how you should spend your time in the gym. Can I ask how much you can squat now, and what your bodyweight is?

“Is there any harm in doing the same assistance moves each training day?”

No. The only issue you COULD have is overuse or if some exercise is “riskier” than another. Of course, the big problem is NOT variety (this is such a bullshit idea) it is whether or not the movements you choose:

Compliment your main lift/supplemental lift/conditioning/jumping/throwing. In other words, are they part of a common sense package?

It has nothing to do with your “weaknesses”. At all. There are many positive aspects for NOT changing assistance exercises, especially if your goals are performance based and lie outside of “being a lifter.”

I’m 50 y.o., and weigh 201. My current calc maxes are 304 bench, 320 DL, 188 squat. I’ve had chronic SI joint issues in the past, but not lately, so that’s no excuse now, especially since my deadlift is reasonable. I think it’s probably just what you get from years of not squatting.

I’ve got my first PL meet lined up next month, so I get that for now, it is what it is. And what it is is embarrassing. But my goal for the same meet next year is to break 1000, which means solving this bullshit squat performance.

Jim, thanks for chiming in. And yeah, apart from maybe the once-a-year meet to check myself, my goal is simply to stand above all of the suburban dad-bods that surround me.

This is an easy thing to solve. You clearly don’t have a hormonal or health issue preventing you from building muscle, given your bench press. It means you need to squat more, period. That IS a terrible squat, and assistance work, at that level, is largely irrelevant. You should be able to make a ton of progress just by squatting a lot. This will also serve you best for overall leg development/ avoidance of dad-bod