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How Many Assistance Lifts is Too Many?

I’ve always figured it’d be helpful to give every main lift (dead,squat,bench,press) one or two assistance lifts (like dumbbell press and dip for bench and leg press and good morning for squat) but recently I’ve been told otherwise.

I’ve been told to stick to a basic 5x5 program with one or two assistance lifts in total (push ups, chin ups, sit ups). Why is this?

I disagree with who ever told you the latter I believe that you should stick to the Big 3 and 5x5 is awesome but I belelive you should and honestly need assistance moves. I understand deadlifts work every muscle practically but it definetly works certain muscles harder so therefore you need assistance. Something along these lines if your doing a simple 5x5 3 days a week would be pretty good in my opinion. But this is just me.

Bench Press 5x5
2-3 assistance ( 1 back, 1 delts, and 1 for triceps)

Deadlift 5x5
2-3 assitance ( 1-2 hanstrings/glutes, 1-2 upper back )

Squat 5x5
2-3 assistance ( 1 quads, 2 core)

I’m not 100% certain, but I think that advice is generally given to teenagers with the intention of getting them to focus on the main lifts. It’s basically to try and cull the ever increasing numbers of curl and tricep extension monkeys. I think that as long as you’re focusing on the main lifts, and progressing well, then you can ‘treat yourself’ with some assistance lifts (who doesn’t want big arms?).

As long as your recovery is down, your training sessions aren’t too long and you don’t overtrain tiny muscle groups (like biceps) then you should be fine.

Well, that’s my opinion anyways.

Also, what are you training for- strength or hypertrophy? That would make a big difference.

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:
Also, what are you training for- strength or hypertrophy? That would make a big difference.[/quote]

x2

“Assistance” lifts kind of mean different things depending on your goals.

In the case of a bodybuilding program, a Chest/Tri day might start with bench press (compound movement that hits both chest and tris), then DB flyes (assistance to hit the chest), then another chest isolation exercise, then rope pushdowns (assistance for the tris), then overhead extensions (more assistance for the tris).

A lot of BB programs stick with 1 compound + 2 assistance lifts per muscle group, and making sure every muscle group is hit [over the course of the week]. Not a hard and fast rule by any means.

From what I understand for powerlifting style training – which I’m not really familiar with – assistance exercises are used primarily to target the weak links.

They have different purposes.

Because of that, it’s important to know what your goals are to answer that question.

[quote]LoRez wrote:

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:
Also, what are you training for- strength or hypertrophy? That would make a big difference.[/quote]

x2

“Assistance” lifts kind of mean different things depending on your goals.

In the case of a bodybuilding program, a Chest/Tri day might start with bench press (compound movement that hits both chest and tris), then DB flyes (assistance to hit the chest), then another chest isolation exercise, then rope pushdowns (assistance for the tris), then overhead extensions (more assistance for the tris).

A lot of BB programs stick with 1 compound + 2 assistance lifts per muscle group, and making sure every muscle group is hit [over the course of the week]. Not a hard and fast rule by any means.

From what I understand for powerlifting style training – which I’m not really familiar with – assistance exercises are used primarily to target the weak links.

They have different purposes.

Because of that, it’s important to know what your goals are to answer that question.[/quote]

Strength.

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:
I’m not 100% certain, but I think that advice is generally given to teenagers with the intention of getting them to focus on the main lifts. It’s basically to try and cull the ever increasing numbers of curl and tricep extension monkeys. I think that as long as you’re focusing on the main lifts, and progressing well, then you can ‘treat yourself’ with some assistance lifts (who doesn’t want big arms?).

As long as your recovery is down, your training sessions aren’t too long and you don’t overtrain tiny muscle groups (like biceps) then you should be fine.

Well, that’s my opinion anyways.

Also, what are you training for- strength or hypertrophy? That would make a big difference.[/quote]

Strength is my goal.

[quote]hurrdurrgomad wrote:

Strength is my goal.[/quote]

Well in that case, the main function of assistance lifts for you would be to deal with any weak links in your main compound movements. However, I don’t know too much about this area and so my advice stops here. Find a good program from an expert and stick to it, then use assistance movements to deal with any weak links- if they start appearing.

It’s kinda subjective, but ‘too many’ would mean that you’re not recovering enough from them and they’re interfering with progress on the main lifts

Assistance lifts haven’t been shown to help when you are still seeing significant results from a linear progression of beginner gains. I think this is for a couple of reasons. First, a beginner doesn’t have weak links. They’re all weak. Big compounds hit everything.

Second, the rate of beginner gains is limited by growth rates and recovery time. Stimulating the muscle beyond a certain point isn’t going to make it grow faster. And for a beginner, that point really isn’t all that much.

So if you don’t feel like the assistance lifts aren’t stopping you from recovering, go ahead and do them to practice technique and build work capacity. But the real progress will come from consistently adding weight to the big compound lifts.

[quote]Silyak wrote:
Assistance lifts haven’t been shown to help when you are still seeing significant results from a linear progression of beginner gains. I think this is for a couple of reasons. First, a beginner doesn’t have weak links. They’re all weak. Big compounds hit everything.

Second, the rate of beginner gains is limited by growth rates and recovery time. Stimulating the muscle beyond a certain point isn’t going to make it grow faster. And for a beginner, that point really isn’t all that much.

So if you don’t feel like the assistance lifts aren’t stopping you from recovering, go ahead and do them to practice technique and build work capacity. But the real progress will come from consistently adding weight to the big compound lifts. [/quote]

Thank you, I didn’t know that.