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Picky with Assistance Exercises


Hey guys, i'm in my 6th week of 5/3/1,I skipped the deload the first time around but cannot wait to deload next week for a break. I've never been albe to stay consistent on my assistance movements for Bench or OHP day. Deadlift is always the same and Squat day sometimes gets changed around as well.

Anyone else go through this? Right now i'm thinking of changing my template to look like this so I can have some variety and be able to change my workouts according to feel;

Squat 3/5/1
BBB or 5x5 box squats
Single leg or regular leg press ( both with hamstring/glute emphasis )
3-5 sets of hyper extensions

Bench 3/5/1
5x5 rep of a heavy chest press ( This will likely be a barbell movement. I am also thinking some upper back work between sets )
3x8-12 reps of a lighter chest exercise ( Dumbbell )
3x8-12 reps of a compound movement for triceps ( Close grip bench or floor press )
3 sets of ab work

Deadlift 3/5/1
5x10 reps of a rowing movement
5x10 reps of a pull down movement
5 sets of biscep work

OHP 3/5/1
3x8-12 reps close grip barbell bench ( flat or incline )
3x8-12 reps of a tricep isolation exercise ( Cable pull down variation )
Farmers walks for a set amount of time
3 sets of ab work

Sorry for the long post and extra sorry if I sound like a total noob. You may of noticed I plan on switching to 3/5/1 instead of 5/3/1 as I believe my body will respond better to the lighter week of 5 in the middle. I also play ball hockey 3 nights a week as a goalie and am on a slow cut to drop some body fat. Thanks for any input and again i'm sorry for the long post.


Anytime I get into a “can’t stick to the plan” type of rut, I find that simplifying the situation is much more helpful than adding complications. Too me, the assistance work on your pressing days is just too much. What is all that extra volume going to gain you? I would just do your work sets and then move on to 5 sets of 8-10 reps with some close grip pressing variation and then be done.


Are you progressing on your plan? Do you think it’s working for you? Why or why not? I ask these same things of everyone that asks about program critique.

If what you are doing is working, i.e. increasing your main lifts, then continue to do what you do. Barring some sort of blatantly ridiculous and weird programming, you know yourself better than we do.

However, if your lifts are not increasing and you feel that you are getting nowhere, I bet I know why. You seem to be putting far too much emphasis on the assistance work, meaning if you are hitting the main sets like you should be, you may not want or need all of the volume afterwards. Ask yourself if you are hitting the main points of the 5/3/1 philosophy. Are you putting 100% effort into the main movement, and using assistance work to ASSIST those movements? If so, and you are making progress, then keep killing it! If not, make some changes, try it and evaluate.

***One important thing to remember with assistance work is that if you cannot feel the targeted muscle firing/burning when doing the particular assistance movement, it’s too heavy. Assistance work is used to build muscle, not our ego. In order to build muscle, you have to break it down and recover. Simple as that. Heavy assistance work is just further taxing adrenals, joints, tendons, etc, and not the muscle itself. I’m not saying you need to hear this specifically, it’s just something to think about and something that needs to be repeated from time to time for all of us.

Good luck.


Thanks for the input guys. I think you’re right. I’m going to go back to the BBB style of training. Quality over quantity right?