How do you guys usually set up your assistance work? Do you ramp up to a top set like on a main lift, straight sets? What do you do?
To be honest, I do both… Tonight I did 45* back raise as a main asst. move, and kept the same band tension (light) the entire time, doing 4 sets of 10. However, yesterday I did ramp up on my tricep extensions, keeping the same amount of reps, increasing weight each set.
I think it really just matters on how you are feeling that day, and if increasing the weight will truly ‘assist’ you in getting stronger.
I do both as well. If i’ve been doing fairly low volume on my assistance, i’ll switch it up to something like 5x10 and try to increase the weight by 5 pounds each week. After a few weeks of this I may try to go a lot lower on the reps and ramp the weight up to around a 3 rep max. However, this is mainly for big assistance lifts, like close grip bench. For smaller muscle groups, i usually do 4x6-12 and try to increase the weight by 5 pounds each week. Once this stalls, i’ll switch out for another assistance exercise.
I usually work up on one second barbell movement. I want to hit a heavy set of 3 or 5. If I feel beat up, then I just keep the weight the same for 3x5. These are a great strength builder after ME work. My other accessories are more focused on hypertrophy, so I just do the same weight for sets of 8-12 reps. You just have to stimulate the muscle, you don’t have to annihilate it.