T Nation

Assistance Performed During Main Lift Inquiry


Hi Jim and all,

When supersetting an assistance with a main lift, what I do is go straight from the main lift (say, bench press) then take only 1-2 recovery breaths and then do the assistance work (say, 10 DB squats). After both sets, I rest ~1 minute or a bit more before continuing. Is this recommended? Yes, I have read the new 531 Forever but don’t see mention of this. I tend to like this better than taking equal rests between each exercise in a superset. Or does this not matter as long as you finish the workout in the prescribed time?

Thanks for any comments.


Probably can do it either way, personal preference is probably more important here, also depends on what your doing supersets with. The key to supersets is overall rest in the workout is shorter.


Don’t time your rest periods. Just get the work done when you’re ready for your next set. I Typically take (but I don’t actually time it) about 30-90 seconds rest between main and assistance exercises. Something like this:

Squat 60-90 seconds
chins 90 seconds
squat 30 seconds
Dips 30 seconds
Squat 60-90 seconds
chins 90 seconds.

It all depends on how taxing the set is. At 230 pounds, chins take a lot out of me, and my squat TM is 405, so again, the squats take a lot out of me. I can do dips all day long with a 50 pound vest on, so they don’t tax me as much.


No. It is not recommended.


Thanks for the replies. I have started to superset assistance lifts (DB goblet squats, pull ups, or whatever is prescribed in the specific program) with the main and supplemental lifts. Obviously for those with the new book, this is called for in a couple of the programs.

My first day I did this:

Set a timer for 3 minutes. Do the main 531 lift, do the assistance after 5-10s rest, then rest the remaining ~2 min (or do band pull aparts towards my 100+ of these). It worked well. I found that even though I was tired after the main lift, the assistance lift was still doable because it’s a different move and not heavy. This gets the workout done in 33 minutes, not including warm up and throws.

I couldn’t tell from Jim’s response if this was not recommended, or if he was commenting on other responses in the thread.


He was replying to your question.


Ok, thanks for clarifying. So I shouldn’t be doing the assistance work immediately after the main lift? My thought was it is more of a conditioning challenge to, say, crank out 10 pull ups right after doing a set of squats. Also, it would offset more of your recovery time to prepare again for the main lift if you’re trying to get done within a certain timeframe.


This is all addressed in the book. The point is NOT for conditioning; however that is a benefit. The point is to build a capacity that is so big/strong that you are able to easily handle (for example in the Krypteia program) 100lbs DB’s for all DB lifts and not give it a second thought. We have 140lbs kids that can use 100 DB’s for all squat sets and not blink an eye. But this is done OVERTIME and with an extreme amount of attention to EVERY detail of their training/form/programming.

The point is this: the timer is fine but should be an after thought. You should be in good enough shape that all sets can be done 100% perfect and 100% explosive and not have to worry about the time. That is why, as explained in the book, you keep a running timer as a guide in the beginning (not as a goal) and make sure the quality is there well before you try to reach a timed goal.

Quality is the MOST important. And again, conditioning is a happy after thought, not the point. Never was/is. Never should be in a strength training program.

Also, the Krypteia is NOT for everyone. This is also addressed in the book.

Lots of stuff addressed in the book.