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Conjugate Periodization and Assistance Work?


Ive been looking for this everywhere, and cant find a good answer. The question pertains to assistance work in a plan similar to Westside. There are basically two scenarios ive seen.

1) Assistance work is made to ASSIST your lifts, but the focus of your workouts be on ME, DE and Supplemental work.

2) And ive seen others that suggest to really hammer away at the assistance lifts; as this is where your gains are going to come from.

Now I know there probably isn't a definative answer, and that what type of phase you are in will make the difference, but I am looking for some general guidelines on my assistance work.

Ive thought of one method of progressing things, and would like to get your guys opinions, and what you do.

The way im doing it right now, would be as follows:

Week1: 4-5 sets of 10 or 4 sets of 20 (on certain lifts; like plate raises)
Week2: +1 set and/or add some reps
Week3: decrease reps per set, but add weight
Week4: Continue to decrease reps per set, and # of sets but increase weight further
Week5: "max out" on the assistance lifts.
Week6: Deload if necessary, or start back at week 1.

So i might start on something like a BB tricep ext with 65lbs for 5 sets of 10, and by the end of the six weeks, i'd work down to 3x6 with 80lbs or whatever ends up being the max.

Also, I tend to push heavier on DE days, and do more volume with lighter weight on ME days.

I also notice that top level PL'ers will tend to warm-up to a certain weight and then do something like 5x10 with that weight. I dont think I can handle this much work yet, so what ive been doing is saving the last set or two to really push things.


BB Tricep Ext.

(65) 3x10
(70) 1x10
(75) 1x8)

1) Am i on the right track with all of this?


Just do something. If it's too much cut back. If it's too little add more.

You've been program hopping for two years or more and engaging in paralysis by analysis the whole time.

Just friggin' do something for real and stick with it.

Find a powerlifting club and join a crew. They'll answer all your questions on the spot.


Whatever dude. Sure it took me some time to find the style of training that suits me, and I may change in the future, but I want to make sure im doing things right. Westside clearly outlines how hard you push on ME and DE work, but doesn't mention anything really about assistance work. So it is clearly open to interpretation, but rather than guess, i'd like to know what works. If you get confused when someone mentions periodization or other technical terms, just dont respond.


Louis does discuss it. ME work will expose your weakness, if you can't hold an arch in the squat with a heavy weight you made need more abdominal/low back work, if your triceps effect your lockout you may need more work there.

That all being said how you approach assistance work depends on your goal. If you need to gain strength but are worried about staying in a weight class he recommends lower reps in the 5-8 range, if you're not worried about mass or want to add mass he recommends more hypertrophy work with the assistance lifts.

Now all you need to do is think your way through it, mass will change leverages, and can be the foundation for strength, or you could develop better motor unit recruitment with the lower rep range, just avoid anything above 85% so you don't tax your CNS too much.

For instance, De Franco's WS4SBIII is designed with a high volume assistance approach to put mass where mass is needed for strength and protection on a "weaker" population, a.k.a. high school and college kids with a young training age. All this can change as many advanced powerlifters with high training ages can incorporate and may even need heavier work to build strength with little hypertrophy. Alexeyev the weightlifter would not allow himself to go up a weight class until the coaches thought he was ready and would train to be the strongest in his weight class before being the biggest.

For a powerlifter I would recommend a lower volume, higher intensity assistance work, but for an athlete, higher volume and more moderate intensity. 20reps and triples have their places in anyones program, depending on where you're at in your annual cycle or your training age. For me I mix it up depending on my goals. Right now I'm worried about my conditioning/gpp so I do more supersets and higher intensity but keep the overall volume low, 3-4 sets of 6-10reps depending on the exercise. For my HS athletes I keep it generally in the 10-15 rep range for 2-4sets, and for college and pros depending on who and what sport 6-15, and around 3-5 sets.

Pick a goal, and then plan your attack, plan a 12 week cycle and if you want message it to me and I'll let you know what I think about it.

Sorry about the book but no way to short answer.


Don't try to insult people's intelligence as a defense mechanism, it's really obvious. Maybe you should actually take advice from people who ARE STRONGER THAN YOU.




I posted another comment here, but it didn't go up. I dont feel like re-typing it, but basically I was stating that I read an article by Dave Tate in which he describes the different methods of training.

He doesn't give a clear suggestion on assistance work, but it seems as if you can do assistance work as ME or RE.

If doing it as ME, you'd take a couple sets to build up to a max in a certain rep range like (5-10).

And if doing it as RE you'd take EACH set to failure, and rest longer between sets.

So today, I tried just building up to maxes on my assistance work. And I think this was pretty good.

I guess if I follow these two methods, that makes things pretty simple.


Ive been doing further reading and found this:

Accessory vs. Supplemental
By Jim Wendler

"We get asked all the time what the difference between an accessory lift and a supplemental lift. After doing some research, I came up with the following ideas. I got these from â??A System of Multi-Year Training in Weightliftingâ?? by A.S. Medvedyev. To make things easier here are some basic definitions;

Supplemental Lift â?? These movements are more closely related to the squat, bench and deadlift in their performance. They are very similar to the three movements with respect to their execution and form. These movements are more joint and movement oriented; not muscle.

For example, a 5â?? rack lockout would be more movement-related to a bench press than a triceps extension. These movements are usually done with heavier weights and lower volume. These exercises are done earlier in the workout to maximize their potential. Supplemental lifts should be recorded and monitored.

For the bench press, most of the supplemental work is done for the lockout but any typical max effort exercises can be used. These can include floor presses, board presses, inclines and reverse band presses.

For the deadlift, rack lockouts, pulls off mats, ultra-wide deadlifts and Zercher squats are done.

For the squat, high box squats, low box squats, Zercher squats, wide stance squats, narrow stance squats are good choices.

Accessory Lifts â?? These movements create a localized affect and are more muscle oriented. These are usually done with smaller amounts of weight and higher volume. These exercises are usually done towards the latter half of the workout as they do not require tremendous physical or mental exertion.

Many times these exercises are used to strengthen tendons and ligaments as well as adding needed muscle mass. For the squat, bench and deadlift, there are a ton of different exercises. Basically anything that doesnâ??t fall into the supplemental category.

Accessory lifts are sometimes recorded and monitored but there is not a lot of emphasis on breaking records. There is also not a lot of physical and mental exertion when doing these lifts. Save your mental psyche when doing your main lifts and your supplemental lifts.

Even though there is less emphasis on the accessory exercises, be sure that you are picking quality exercises and oneâ??s that have a purpose. Choosing the wrong exercises for your training goals and doing an exercise â??just to do somethingâ?? is a great way to overtrain.

Often people ignore the volume on these exercises and forget that they can lead to overtraining if not careful. You should be able to justify everything you do in the weight room.

It should be noted that some lifts seem to fall into both categories. A good example would be dumbbell bench presses. While it mimics the movement of the bench press, going for a heavy double or triple on this exercise isnâ??t recommended. So this movement would fall into the category of accessory rather than supplemental.

To simplify even more, supplemental lifts are â??powerliftingâ?? oriented while accessory lifts are â??bodybuildingâ?? in nature. This is a rather crude interpretation but may help you in classifying them. Another way to look at it â??

Supplemental lifts would be things that you could (but not always) work up to a 1RM; accessory lifts would be exercises that you wouldnâ??t. Now I know that there are some people that want to max out on an extension or face pull or lat pulldown â?? to those of you that think that this is a good idea, happy trails."

And this further answers the rest of my questions. I also found that supplemental work is more closely related to the main lifts, whereas accessory work isn't. And supplemental work can be hammered to raise your main lifts, or for hypertrophy, while acessory work is for prehab or stretching and shouldn't involve much effort.

Thx guys.