Westside and Accessory Work

I’m very much confused about accessory work.

Exactly how do you determine the sets and reps?
How do you choose the exercise?
How many different exercises?

ANy other guidlines people can help me with would be appreciated

I do accessories for generally high volume. I determine sets by feel. I choose the exercise based on current weaknesses. Usually more accessories on bench days rather as compared to squat/deadlift days.

[quote]DixiesFinest wrote:
I do accessories for generally high volume. I determine sets by feel. I choose the exercise based on current weaknesses. Usually more accessories on bench days rather as compared to squat/deadlift days. [/quote]

This. There is no blanekt statement regarding accessory - use exercises you know will help with your weak point (e.g. - stuck at bottom of bench - some shoulder work / dumbbel work will do you better than, say, triceps pushdowns). Sometimes you feel beat up if you went heavy on the main lift so you can do very low intensity accessories… the main thing to remember is that’s why it is called ACESSORY lift, and not a MAIN LIFT - don’t overhtink it, get some quality work in, and don’t let it distract you from your main lifts…

Tate’s elite fitness site has some training logs and a few people use the conjugate method. you can see whatthey are doing.

also, west side barbell has a training log for their members. you can also see what thet are doing.

This is completely individual and depends purely on YOUR weaknesses; you can include exercises to work on weak points in the range of motion, i.e. top-half focussed pressing for lockout strength, exercises if you’re weak out of the hole; It can also include extra hypertrophy work if you’re skinny and that is holding your progress back; For people that are strong but out of shape it could mean more gpp; “Chaos training,” i.e. good mornings if you find you fall forward when squatting; Grip work; mobility; etc etc etc. Basically you need an honest assessment of your weaknesses which I would recommend you get someone else to do for you, as it’s usually easier for somebody else to spot them.

[quote]Fische35 wrote:
Exactly how do you determine the sets and reps?

You just make some shit up.

I like to use a 20-sided die that I referenced to a chart. After I finish my ME or DE lifts, I start rolling the die. Seriously though, there’s no real rules here. When I visited Westside, Louie had me do about 10 sets of 15 reps of modified DB extensions and then when I was done with those he told me to do DB clean and press for like sets of 15…he didn’t say how many sets, so I just kept doing them until he wanted to show me his reverse hyper.

However many you think you need. For me and the guys I train with, a typical ME/DE bench day might look like this for accessory work-

overhead press.
band lockouts
skull crushers off of the floor
side raises / front raises

other days we might throw some dips, pushdowns or pulldowns on top of that. We might drop the overhead press and do floor press or DB floor press or board press for some reps.

Really don’t overthink it. You’re probably at a point where doing just about anything will give you some nice gains. I usually tell people the following:

hit the triceps, shoulders and lats hard…if you want to throw in biceps go ahead. While you’re doing this, think about how exercises are going to translate to your bench…if you bench 300 lbs. do you think doing pushdowns with 150 lbs. is very helpful? no, boards or lockouts are probably going to be a better choice, but everything has its’ place.


It depends on the day, but I could do more or less exercises depending on how I’m feeling. Sometimes less is more, though…if you can do a shitload of accessories and not feel worn out, somehow that doesn’t seem right.

I generally try not to over-think my accessories. Just choose exercises that focus on bringing up your weak points, and hit them hard. I think it’s important that you go by how you feel as far as reps/sets go. If I’m up to 6 reps on a SLDL, and I feel like I can grind out another 2, I’ll go for it, nomsayin?

Also, when faced with the decision between a machine exercise (like pushdowns, cable rows, etc.) and a free weight exercise…go for the free weights.

Accumulation- More general exercises but directed towards weaknesses. All assistance work is more bodybuilding style with lots of exercises, high reps, sets, and volume.

Intensification- More specific exercises directed towards weaknesses. Try to establish some 6-8 rep max’s on variations of the main lifts after your primary work(ME or DE) is done for the day. Keep the number of exercises(including primary work) to 3-6 total and make sure they directly work whatever you suck at.

Transformation- Your relative training intensity should be at its highest during this phase of training so you probably wont need to go nuts on the assistance work. 2-3 exercises after your primary work is done. This work should be geared towards pre-hab/recovery/maintaince of everything you have developed in previous training cycles.

I am not 100% sure if this is exactly how it works out for the guys that actually train at westside but it works pretty well for me.

I was running a westside style template utilising heavy assistance on the DE days and light assistance on the ME days.

This didn’t work.

I have recently switched to ME work with heavy assistance and DE work with light(er) assistance.

This is working much better but I have only been doing it for a few weeks so far. Looking forward to seeing what my maxes are in a week or two.

As for reps and set I tend to do 5-8 for the heavy stuff. 10-15 for the light stuff. But as everyone says it goes with feel, it might be more one day, less another. Get your DE / ME lifts done and play the rest by how you feel.

We all live in the real world and things change day to day so should your training.