T Nation

Stuck on Some Assistance Exercises

So, it’s now been over a month and a half that I have been on the WS4SB program without having skipped a workout during the week. However, I haven’t been able to progress to heavier weights with two assistance exercises.

I have been working with 15lbs. dumbbells for the standing 2 dumbbell French press exercise and I have been working with 12.5 lbs. dumb bells for the seated dumbbell power cleans. These weights for each of the exercises have been the same for the past 6 weeks. All of the other assistance exercises have been progressing. So, I don’t get why I am stuck on the dumbbell power cleans and the dumbbell French press exercises.

Dude what the hell do you weigh… Are you actually a undernourished female… Seriously Iam begging to think you are one of the most determined trolls ever.

It’s assistance, so it doesn’t really matter. I’ve been curling about the same amount of weight for a while now. Though, if it’s cleans, I would think it may be technique related?

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
It’s assistance, so it doesn’t really matter. I’ve been curling about the same amount of weight for a while now. Though, if it’s cleans, I would think it may be technique related?[/quote]

DB power cleans aren’t actually a clean, it’s just the name of some rear delt assistance work seen here.

Oh. It’s just that I thought that assistance lifts were supposed to go up about every 2 to 4 weeks for novice strength trainees.

As long as the comp/measurement lifts go up, you’re good. Assistance lifts can even go down in weight, but as long as you are meeting your goals, the program is working.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
As long as the comp/measurement lifts go up, you’re good. Assistance lifts can even go down in weight, but as long as you are meeting your goals, the program is working.[/quote]

^always bringing the smart.

Bull, you didn’t mention your main lifts. Are you progressing on those? You have to ask yourself what your goals are. Is you goal “I want to seated dumbbell clean 20 pound dumbbells” or is it “I want to become bigger/stronger overall”. If the latter is your priority, then there are other, better means to assess your progress than what you’re doing on assistance exercises.

As an aside, I’ve been using basically the same weight/reps on hamstring curls for the past year. I’ve put 100 lbs on my squat 1rm. Do you think I’m concerned that I’m not hamstring curling more?

[quote]Bull_Scientist wrote:
So, it’s now been over a month and a half that I have been on the WS4SB program without having skipped a workout during the week. However, I haven’t been able to progress to heavier weights with two assistance exercises.

I have been working with 15lbs. dumbbells for the standing 2 dumbbell French press exercise and I have been working with 12.5 lbs. dumb bells for the seated dumbbell power cleans. These weights for each of the exercises have been the same for the past 6 weeks. All of the other assistance exercises have been progressing. So, I don’t get why I am stuck on the dumbbell power cleans and the dumbbell French press exercises.[/quote]

Assistance exercises are assistance. They are called that because they are designed to make your primary lifts go up. Now, granted it is desirable that you increase in weight on them, BUT if your primary lifts are going up then they are doing the job they are designed for–increase in weight or not.

And you should be adding repetitions to this assistance work. If you can’t add weight, can you do more reps? if you can’t do more reps, can you rest less doing the same reps? After six weeks you should be able to do one of those three. I am convinced if you can bench press 140lb you cando more than 12 lb dbs for the clean. You don’t reap rewards you don’t work hard for.

[quote]flipcollar wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
As long as the comp/measurement lifts go up, you’re good. Assistance lifts can even go down in weight, but as long as you are meeting your goals, the program is working.[/quote]

^always bringing the smart.

Bull, you didn’t mention your main lifts. Are you progressing on those? You have to ask yourself what your goals are. Is you goal “I want to seated dumbbell clean 20 pound dumbbells” or is it “I want to become bigger/stronger overall”. If the latter is your priority, then there are other, better means to assess your progress than what you’re doing on assistance exercises.

As an aside, I’ve been using basically the same weight/reps on hamstring curls for the past year. I’ve put 100 lbs on my squat 1rm. Do you think I’m concerned that I’m not hamstring curling more?[/quote]

Yep. Assistance is assistance.

[quote]flipcollar wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
As long as the comp/measurement lifts go up, you’re good. Assistance lifts can even go down in weight, but as long as you are meeting your goals, the program is working.[/quote]

^always bringing the smart.

Bull, you didn’t mention your main lifts. Are you progressing on those? You have to ask yourself what your goals are. Is you goal “I want to seated dumbbell clean 20 pound dumbbells” or is it “I want to become bigger/stronger overall”. If the latter is your priority, then there are other, better means to assess your progress than what you’re doing on assistance exercises.

As an aside, I’ve been using basically the same weight/reps on hamstring curls for the past year. I’ve put 100 lbs on my squat 1rm. Do you think I’m concerned that I’m not hamstring curling more?[/quote]

Wait a minute, if the assistance lifts don’t go up in weight then how can those lifts help to increase the main lifts?

Also, my main goal is to get bigger/stronger overall. In addition, I have not been able to test out my PRs on the regular flat barbell bench press, free squats, and deadlift. For my max effort upper body lift I have rotated from doing incline bench press for two weeks in a row to doing floor presses for two weeks plus today in a row. For my max effort lower body lifts, I’ve rotated from doing barbell front squats for two weeks in a row to doing box squats for two weeks in a row.

[quote]Bull_Scientist wrote:

[quote]flipcollar wrote:

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:
As long as the comp/measurement lifts go up, you’re good. Assistance lifts can even go down in weight, but as long as you are meeting your goals, the program is working.[/quote]

^always bringing the smart.

Bull, you didn’t mention your main lifts. Are you progressing on those? You have to ask yourself what your goals are. Is you goal “I want to seated dumbbell clean 20 pound dumbbells” or is it “I want to become bigger/stronger overall”. If the latter is your priority, then there are other, better means to assess your progress than what you’re doing on assistance exercises.

As an aside, I’ve been using basically the same weight/reps on hamstring curls for the past year. I’ve put 100 lbs on my squat 1rm. Do you think I’m concerned that I’m not hamstring curling more?[/quote]

Wait a minute, if the assistance lifts don’t go up in weight then how can those lifts help to increase the main lifts?
[/quote]

Because it trains certain movement patterns which allow for better strength gains on the main lifts. Not everything about lifting is purely about improved strength; there’s a major neural component.

[quote]Bull_Scientist wrote:
Also, my main goal is to get bigger/stronger overall. [/quote]

How is that going? That will let you know if your appraoch is working.

Btw, I have been doing the standing dumbbell overhead press with a neutral grip. Though, when I do this exercise I start out with my elbows tucked to my sides and then I press straight up. How does that effect the shoulder and tricep muscles compared to the other ways of doing standing dumbbell overhead press such the pronated grip version with elbows starting out straight to sides or the more typical neutral grip version where the elbows are positioned at a slight angle?

[quote]Bull_Scientist wrote:
Btw, I have been doing the standing dumbbell overhead press with a neutral grip. Though, when I do this exercise I start out with my elbows tucked to my sides and then I press straight up. How does that effect the shoulder and tricep muscles compared to the other ways of doing standing dumbbell overhead press such the pronated grip version with elbows starting out straight to sides or the more typical neutral grip version where the elbows are positioned at a slight angle?[/quote]

Have you tried just doing it one armed and using the other hand to feel the muscles involved? That will usually give you a good idea of what’s happening where. You can actually feel the difference in the way the front, side and rear delts fire when you change your wrist rotation.

Or… you can just do it one way for 6-12 weeks, then another way, then another way, and see for yourself with how you personally respond to them.

But really, feeling, observing, watching, experimenting will get you far with most things in life.

Neutral grip is fine. Slightly less activation of shoulder and slightly more triceps than pronated grip with hands out to side but a stronger starting position. Lots less shoulder rotation which helps people when they have shoulder pain (they can often do this and neutral grip bench without pain but not the pronated versions). Both still get worked just fine.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:
It’s assistance, so it doesn’t really matter. I’ve been curling about the same amount of weight for a while now. Though, if it’s cleans, I would think it may be technique related?[/quote]

DB power cleans aren’t actually a clean, it’s just the name of some rear delt assistance work seen here.

What does this exercise do ie what is its main purpose ? sorry if my question comes across as lame its due to my lack of experience.

[quote]tredaway wrote:

What does this exercise do ie what is its main purpose ? sorry if my question comes across as lame its due to my lack of experience.[/quote]

It’s a rear delt/trap exercise.

[quote]LoRez wrote:

Have you tried just doing it one armed and using the other hand to feel the muscles involved? That will usually give you a good idea of what’s happening where. You can actually feel the difference in the way the front, side and rear delts fire when you change your wrist rotation. [/quote]

I’ve tried feeling both ways, and I can’t tell the difference.

[quote]

Or… you can just do it one way for 6-12 weeks, then another way, then another way, and see for yourself with how you personally respond to them.

But really, feeling, observing, watching, experimenting will get you far with most things in life.[/quote]

If I got stronger on one variation of the exercise, then how would I be able to tell the if it’s my triceps are getting stronger than my triceps or if it’s my shoulders that are getting stronger than my triceps, or if it’s both are getting stronger at about the same rate? Also, building significant muscle mass takes longer than building strength overtime, so I would think that visually comparing which muscles are growing the most would be pointless.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
Neutral grip is fine. Slightly less activation of shoulder and slightly more triceps than pronated grip with hands out to side but a stronger starting position. Lots less shoulder rotation which helps people when they have shoulder pain (they can often do this and neutral grip bench without pain but not the pronated versions). Both still get worked just fine.[/quote]

Okay. So the more you bring your elbows closer together during the overhead press, the more activated the triceps are while the less activated the shoulders are. Thanks Aragorn, I appreciate it.

Have you ever considered working with a real life coach/trainer? I think you could benefit from it.