T Nation

Heavy Assistance Work vs. High Volume Pump Assistance Work

We have two schools of thought here:

  1. Push assistance work heavy with progressive overload. Set PRs and get stronger. Work up to one heavy set for say a 5-10RM and keep the volume low.

Second…

  1. High volume/ low intensity pump work. This is recommended by Wendler and Louis Simmons. Doing something like 3-5 x 10 on assistance work. Not going heavy at all just working the muscle and getting a pump. Keeping everything after the main lift effort free. Not recording the weights in a log and just going by feel that day.

I personal;y feel that if I don’t go heavy on a lift that I am wasting my time. Light weights don’t help build strength and the ability to produce force for me. So I am asking what others here prefer.

I’m doing 531 and for the deadlift and bench I follow up with a heavy assistance exercise. After deads right now I’m doing heavy front box squats. After bench I do the floor press with the same 531 progression. Then I’ll move on to lighter auxiliary stuff. For squats I do first set last and then down sets with front squats.

I believe Louie stresses heavy assistance on ME day and light work on DE day. I’m not 100% sure since I’ve never trained there, but I’m friends w/ a lifter who trained there for over two years and that was what he was taught and did while there. I’ve seen articles w/ him saying do light work on ME day and heavy work on DE day and this lifter corrected me and told me it was heavy assistance on ME days and light assistance on the DE days.

Things constantly change there. I don’t think anything is really set in stone there other than the three methods being used. Most of it is based on how your body is doing determines what you’ll be doing that day.

Assistance is just that…assistance. I mix mine up between heavy low volume and light high volume, and I also mix up the exercises that I choose. It is lightly structured with much more flexibility according to how I feel. pwnisher makes a good point in a blog post from a while back that if your main lifts are going up and your assistance lifts aren’t, you are doing things right. If your assistance work is improving but your main lifts aren’t then you are doing something wrong.

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Assistance is just that…assistance. I mix mine up between heavy low volume and light high volume, and I also mix up the exercises that I choose. It is lightly structured with much more flexibility according to how I feel. pwnisher makes a good point in a blog post from a while back that if your main lifts are going up and your assistance lifts aren’t, you are doing things right. If your assistance work is improving but your main lifts aren’t then you are doing something wrong. [/quote]

This a good post.

Just for the sake of argument and thought stimulation…

Why cant you do both?

Work up to a heavy set, then back off and get a pump?

Or you could just keep adding volume and weight. Kroc rows are a good example of this. Just keep adding weight and sets of 10 to 15 while keeping reasonable form.

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Assistance is just that…assistance. I mix mine up between heavy low volume and light high volume, and I also mix up the exercises that I choose. It is lightly structured with much more flexibility according to how I feel. pwnisher makes a good point in a blog post from a while back that if your main lifts are going up and your assistance lifts aren’t, you are doing things right. If your assistance work is improving but your main lifts aren’t then you are doing something wrong. [/quote]

Absolutely this. The movement matters as well. There is no point to working up to a heavy triple on reverse hypers or tricep extensions.

I use all sorts of rep ranges and strategies with my assistance work. Sometimes, the point is to get stronger. Sometimes, it’s to get bigger. Sometimes, it’s simply to get tougher. I hit a 40 rep drop set on the end of my squat day where I do 20 front squats followed immediately by 20 squats with the same weight, and the only real purpose for it is to teach me to endure life sucking.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
[…]
pwnisher makes a good point in a blog post from a while back that if your main lifts are going up and your assistance lifts aren’t, you are doing things right. If your assistance work is improving but your main lifts aren’t then you are doing something wrong. [/quote]

Absolutely this.
[…]
[/quote]

Lol at agreeing with yourself.

But really, I appreciate the info, since assistance has not been a part of any training I’ve done up until now.

That is actually a confirmation, not an agreement. It would be redundant for me to restate what had already been written, but I can most definitely vouch for its authenticity.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Assistance is just that…assistance. I mix mine up between heavy low volume and light high volume, and I also mix up the exercises that I choose. It is lightly structured with much more flexibility according to how I feel. pwnisher makes a good point in a blog post from a while back that if your main lifts are going up and your assistance lifts aren’t, you are doing things right. If your assistance work is improving but your main lifts aren’t then you are doing something wrong. [/quote]

Absolutely this. The movement matters as well. There is no point to working up to a heavy triple on reverse hypers or tricep extensions.

I use all sorts of rep ranges and strategies with my assistance work. Sometimes, the point is to get stronger. Sometimes, it’s to get bigger. Sometimes, it’s simply to get tougher. I hit a 40 rep drop set on the end of my squat day where I do 20 front squats followed immediately by 20 squats with the same weight, and the only real purpose for it is to teach me to endure life sucking.
[/quote]

Yup. This is exactly right. Tuesday I did no assistance work. Thursday I took a page from the Meadows/Tate Leg days and did a whole lot of drop set suck after my squats.

I’d also like to chime inwith these two guys quoted above me and say it depends on the volume of your main lifts as well. If you’re hitting a lot of volume in the heavy weights, then assistance work is likely to be lighter. If not, and you only hit say 1 set of 3 or one single, then assistance work is likely to be heavier.

I am squatting 5 days a week right now, 5x5. There is no way in hell I have juice for heavy assistance work like triples after my 4th day of squats. My assistance work is light and targeted most of the time as a result. If I were doing only 2 leg days a week I would hit assistance stuff much harder.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]Ecchastang wrote:
Assistance is just that…assistance. I mix mine up between heavy low volume and light high volume, and I also mix up the exercises that I choose. It is lightly structured with much more flexibility according to how I feel. pwnisher makes a good point in a blog post from a while back that if your main lifts are going up and your assistance lifts aren’t, you are doing things right. If your assistance work is improving but your main lifts aren’t then you are doing something wrong. [/quote]

Absolutely this. The movement matters as well. There is no point to working up to a heavy triple on reverse hypers or tricep extensions.

I use all sorts of rep ranges and strategies with my assistance work. Sometimes, the point is to get stronger. Sometimes, it’s to get bigger. Sometimes, it’s simply to get tougher. I hit a 40 rep drop set on the end of my squat day where I do 20 front squats followed immediately by 20 squats with the same weight, and the only real purpose for it is to teach me to endure life sucking.
[/quote]

Damn. That just sounds outright painful.