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Assistance Work on Starting Strength?


Hi to every person that takes time to read this :)!

I have a few small questions about the Starting Strength program by Mark Rippetoe, which I am going to be following (the better part of) next year. (In like a week I will open a log with further background info about me and why I picked this program.)

The program:
The Starting Strength program basically is a program designed to take advantage of the growing potential beginning bodybuilders have by using basic, compound movements.
In the article I linked to Bryan Krahn says, right after the schedule: Some additional assistance work is included of course, including direct arm work.

My question is: What excactly does he mean by 'additional assistance work'?
I am going to buy the book, but while it is not yet in my possesion, could someone who has experience with this program please help me?

Further: Have any of you got any experience with this program? Positive, negative?

Thanks a lot in advance!


PS: If my English is not clear, please say so :p. I am not a native speaker...


The program is a classic. It works. Liftstrong 5X5 is similar, as well as 5/3/1.

"Assistance exercises accomplish four main tasks. In no particular order, they:
? Strengthen weak areas of the body.
? Compliment and help increase the four basic lifts.
? Provide balance and symmetry to your body and your training.
? Build muscle mass."*

*From 5/3/1

It's almost "boring", but you cant argue with results.


I have used the program and it is fantastic. Starting out, do not add any extra work. Just do exactly what the program says. Your weak areas are all of them, so just use the big compound lifts of the program. The best way to increase the basic lifts starting out is do do them (with good form). These lifts on their own will tend to provide balance, symmetry, and with enough food build muscle mass. So, no curls or shit, just squat, deadlift, clean, press, bench, pull/chinup -- or whatever your variation demands. At least that is what I would do.

Get the book, but until then you can get the program info from the Starting Strength thread here and by googling for the Starting Strength Wiki (that has a few minor variations of the program, as well as discussion of the techniques of the lifts and troubleshooting for the program).


Nothing wrong with hitting a couple sets of arm work after the main workout, just don't go crazy with it. And it might be a good idea to wait until you stop being sore from the core program before adding it in.


I think its best to just jump into a bodybuilding split IF your goal is a nice aesthetic physique. Which includes prioritizing (after your main lift of course) assistance work (skull crushers, curls, lateral raises etc...)

I don't like the phrase "some additional assistance work" as if assistance work is any less important.

While it is a basic strength program, it will take months to finally get that "strength" and by then you will have imbalances and not know how to fix them.

Of course, if your just worried about strength just ignore what i posted.


yep, read the book. i think there is a whole chapter on assistance work and he goes through what the aim of it is and how to do those exercises.


What are your goals? what is your current level of experience?


There is a chapter in the book regarding assistance work. From what I have read thus far, Rippetoe says you can do assistance work so long as it does not hinder the recovery and growth related to the other lifts. So if you did some assistance work with your triceps and you couldn't bench the next bench day, you would need to cut back the assistance work. Your focus, if you choose to do this program, is to systematically add weight each workout to each lift until progress stops. Assistance work is just that, assistance.


the program is very good, don't go overboard with assistance.