T Nation

Understanding 50/50/50 Assistance Work

Hey guys,

First of all, thanks for the input on my last thread. @Chris_Colucci, if my posts are getting too numbersome, feel free to remove it, I just have a lot of questions and this is one of them.

In Wendler’s 5/3/1 Forever, his assistance template he uses is 50 reps push, 50 reps pull, 50 reps core/leg work. I was curious as to the logistics of this (not questioning Wendler anyhow) just wanted to figure out.

Normally the common convention is you hit a muscle and let it recover…but this stuff has you repeating muscle groups (since you push/pull/hit abs every training day). Is that actually more beneficial? Again just asking cause its new to me

Since the volume is so low, you should be able to recover form it. Same thing with performing athletic training every day.


If the accessory work is making you sore or limiting recovery you’re using too much weight.

These are not heavy, recovery-limiting barbell lifts, but assistance work. You should be able to, for example, do 50 dips (maybe as 5x10) without that impacting your bench press that week. Also, if you do feel a bit beat up you can opt for an easier assistance. For example, push downs are much less taxing than dips.

Many have success super-setting with the main lift and supplement.

So: Bench press at 65%, then 10 pull ups. Bench press at 75%, then 10 pull ups, etc… Or you can do them as a circuit at the end of your main lift and supplement.

You should be fine recovering. Pulls and abs can be done every day regardless usually. Those groups can handle more volume. Just don’t destroy them bodybuilder style. It’s more about cumulative volume over time than any specific workout. So yes they’re beneficial. And my push assistance is almost always pushdowns or tri extensions. I don’t push them to hard bc i do bench or press every workout. Depends largely on the template you choose to how much assistance you can handle. Also if I feel terrible or im sore I’ll do no assistance at all or minimum pulls only.

How many sets and reps do you guys perform for the “single leg/leg / core” category when the template says 100 reps? Do you split it in 50/50? What exercises and how much weight do you guys use on average for the exercises that you not overtrain and have problems with fatigue, soreness etc.?

Example from my last workout (for reference I’m about 170 lbs):

100 KB swings at 40 lbs. (not a lot of weight, but after heavy back squats that’s fine).

Other common lower body/core choices:

DB squats: 5x10 with 85 lb dumbbell. This would be with an upper body lift so I can push lower body assistance a bit more.

5x15 ab wheel roll outs. Good choice for lower body day on main lift.

5x10 straight leg deadlifts with shrug with 45 lb DB in each hand. These work with either squats or upper body days on main lift.

3-4 rounds of farmer’s walks. Anywhere from 60-100 lbs in each hand. Either for distance or time.

thanks for responding to my question.

so you never go over a total of 50 reps for the leg category, regardless if you do a single leg movement or a DBsquat with both legs?

how many times per week do you DBsquat with the 85lb dumbbell in addiditon to your template?

do you perform leg or single leg assistance exercises on leg or lower body days or do you stick to movements like the KBswings only?


In forever Jim says you can do more or less assistance work. Rep range is different for each program some have 50-100. Someone correct me if I’m wrong here but I believe 5x10 Split squats would be the same as doing 5x10 DB Squats (For what counts in the single leg/core rep range)

Personally, I do single leg assistance every training day. As long as it doesn’t affect performance for my main lifts then I’ll keep doing them. (I believe Jim says the same in his book)

ok and you do split squats for example three times per week but you don´t do more than 50 reps per leg?
How much weight do you use on average when you do split squats three times per week for 50 reps?

I currently run 5x5/3/1 which calls for a 50-100 rep range
So, for my compounds its like so:
Mon: Bench
Tue: Squat
Thur: Deadlift
Fri: OHP

on Monday I will do single leg RDL’s for 3-4x10 with a weight I am able to complete for that set/rep range. I keep the volume here low so it doesn’t really affect squats the following day.

Tuesday I do 5x10 split squats

Thursdays I do 3x10 Front squats and 3x10 RDL’s

Friday I do 5x10 Reverse lunges

I work abs on off days after my conditioning in a circuit which is why it is not present on my lifting days.

Again, the rep ranges in his programs are just recommendations. You can go higher or lower If going higher though, I don’t recommend doing this by a lot.

The amount of weight you use is just something you can do for that set/rep range. I use 30 lb dumbells per hand for my split squats as that is what I am capable of doing for 5x10.