T Nation

Cycling Supplemental Lifts Weekly


Does anyone out there cycle their supplemental lifts on a weekly basis? For instance on squats you might do something like this:

Front Squat 4x8-10
Hamstrings, abs, etc

Pause Squat 4x6-8
Hamstrings, abs, etc

Squat Against Chains or Reverse Band Squats 3x4-6
Hamstrings, abs, etc

WK4 (Deload):
Squat (Light)
Hamstrings, abs, etc


Particularly, I’m imaging using this in conjunction with something like The Juggernaut Method that follows an Accumulation/ Intensification/ Realization/ Deload set up to each month. Both the supplemental exercises selected and the sets and rep scheme used for it would match this set up. Accumulation week gets a non-specific supplemental lift with higher volume and lower intensity, Intensification week gets a more specific supplemental lift that lends itself to more moderate volumes and intensity, and the Realization week gets a very specific, overload-based supplemental lift done for relatively high intensity and lower volume. On deload weeks you just do your main work and little stuff.

The benefits to doing this would potentially be more specificity for the adaptation you’re looking for each week. Additionally, you’d be handling heavy weights more frequently (which is a big criticism of the Juggernaut Method and similar systems) while still getting in a lot of sub maximal work on the main lifts.



Because I view accessory/supplemental lifts along the lines of as long as you’re doing something that will target your weaknesses it doesn’t matter what you do, sure, I think that’d work.

I just think it’ll be as effective and MUCH less complicated to pick a couple of supplementals per lift and stick with them.


You can and probably should divide your all your movements into different categories. Maybe something like this:

Main lifts
The main focus and the movements you need to or want to be effective at. Squat, bench, deadlift, press, Olympic lifts etc. Geared or not geared. If you need to be effective in deadlifting off the floor RAW with no straps, use exactly that as your main movement for deadlift.

Secondary lifts
Close variations of the main lifts. Main goal is to attack weak points by strengthening either the weak muscles or training specifically the weak spot of the lift and to just add training volume to very similar movement patterns as the main lifts. For example: Squat > front squat, box squat etc. Deadlift > block pulls, deficit pulls etc. Paused bench press > touch and go bench, long pause bench, close grip bench etc.

Lifting with additional load with bands or chains also fall into this category

Accessory lifts
Smaller movements with the main purpose of attacking weak points by building muscle. Dumbbell variations, chins, pulldowns, core work etc. go here.

Supplemental lifts
Isolations like biceps, triceps, rear-delts, pecs etc. as and if needed.

Personally I wouldn’t recommend weekly cycling of any other than supplemental lifts. Even with those, just do what you like and what allows you to attack the target muscle the best. If you don’t feel like doing DB flyes or pushdowns this time, just do cable flyes and rolling dumbbell extensions for example.

If you want to cycle lifts, you should still plan the cycling in a way that allows you to progress in those lifts. There’s no point in doing front squats on week one and box squats on week two if your upper back is the weak spot. Just keep the movements intact for at least one entire training block and even after that, only change them if you need to change.


I was using the term “Supplemental Lift” in the same way that Dave Tate and many lifters with a Westside background do – to describe the large lift(s) done immediately after the main lifts but before the accessory and rehab/prehab exercises in a session. I’m sorry that did not come through clearly in my example.


No problem. Just different terminology.

But still, the main goal is to either attack weak points or to add to the training stimulus of a very similar movement pattern.

What would be the goal of front squatting on week one? How about pause squatting on week two? If you want to develop upper back and core strength, add a secondary squat workout into your training week or do a squatting movement as deadlift assistance, front squat is great for that. Pause squats are great to train your ability to get out of the hole at the bottom of the squat but that benefit is lost if you only do it once a month or even worse, cycle it so that you only do it once in a long time.

Stick to one primary supplemental lift of your choosing and do it to aid in your main lift until you need to focus on something else.


@Furius that’s a fantastic explanation. I really like that.

I’ve used that breakdown myself in practice previously but I’ve found it works better (for me at any rate) to go straight from main lift to accessories, usually one main lift and two to three accessories. The most I’ll do outside of that is adding a few moderate sets of my weakest main lift for practice between the main lift of the day and the accessory lifts.

All that being said, since I’ve gone from the one to the other over time I may end up going back to it if necessary.