T Nation

What Assistance Exercises Are You Using?


I like to see what some of you guys are using for upper back work, not including the lats.

Right now i use;

Incline rear delts raises - These suckers actually make my scapular crack usually, really gets the kinks out. First time i used them this much. A+!

Barbell shrugs - I've used these in the pass but not a lot. At first i never really had the muscle mind connection but now i really feel them working my traps.

Seated DB power cleans - Used these for a number of years but i recently read Tate's tips and he recommends shrugging up and down/back. I think i finally got the "down" part.

Plates halos - These really get the blood going to my shoulders.

I also started using DB pullovers consistently, i know there not the best lat exercise but the stretch i get from them has really helped my right shoulder health.

I believe in Wendler's adage, don't major in the minors but i was just wondering what some of you folks were doing. :slight_smile:


I haven't done any assistance work in the HP mass program so far. I'm going to wait until week 4 when I have less sets and add assistance work in week 1 and 2, probably leave it out of week 3 since the workouts are so long. The first time through the first 3 weeks I just wanted to focus on the main movements. I'll probably do face pulls and front/lateral raises.


I probably would of done the same thing. I'm not doing the whole HPM system.

I just done prone y-raises, another exercise to put in the rotation.

Off topic: I hope CT puts out a strength focused HP system in the future. High frequency training is the trump card i believe for size and strength.


It's a trump card that all olympic lifters and Russian powerlifters have figured out years ago!


i use weighted pull ups. Works pretty well and cleans


I completely agree on the pullovers. I also think - though THIBS is against using the flat version. BUT if you use the decline bench with a wide grip it then is a true pulling exercise that does effectively isolate the lats - with no biceps. Gets the long head of the triceps as well which don't really get worked much with simply pressing movements. So I use the decline pullover with some 1 1/4 reps at the stretch on lats day and often superset that with stiff arm pulldowns with 1 1/4 reps at the bottom position - again no biceps but some triceps.

Incline reverse pullovers(thats what I call them) are great for rear delts and works the scapular muscles well. I'll do these and incline rows to the face. On the sled Ill do the reverse pullovers, rear delt flyes, and rows to the face as well. It should be noted that rows to the face are an excellent mid-delt exercise as well.See Bret Contreras's breakdown of the best delt exercises based on muscle activity here http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/inside_the_muscles_best_shoulders_and_trap_exercises

  • This also points out how involved the front delts are in the incline press - its basically a shoulder press(at least with the barbell). Thats why I think you could start with this before going to the flat version for your upper body days as any overhead pressing/incline work are really putting extreme (and prably too much focus) on the front delts exclusively, a muscle about the size of two fingers put together.


Weighted pull ups are an assistance exercise?

I do external rotations with dumbbells lying on my side. Also sitting on the couch put elbow on arm rest and do external rotations that way. Both are fun ways to pass time watching UFC/WWE/TNA


That's why my triceps are a little tender today! Pullovers, who would of thought. :slight_smile: I'm be giving the decline version a shot for sure, thanks.


I agree with you on hoping he puts out a strength version. I would love to see the differences between the two.


Agreed, a strength version would be interesting to see how it's laid out.


db chest supported rows with elbows out
face pulls with external rotation
face pulls from low setting so half face pull/upright row
deadstop db rear delt raises from step
cable scarecrows

this week being week 3 might just pop in some sled rows all week to keep fatigue right at bay, this week is huge!!


During military presses I'll do DB upright row/external rotations. I believe some people call them cuban presses. I've tried the shrugs with bb racked at my shoulders, but I'm not feeling those.

During inclines it's usually bent over lateral raises, and while flat benching I'll do prone chest supported rows with a hold at the top.

I might change things up with the new wave this week, probably start substituting some band movements.


I could be wrong but I think you have you arms extended and shrug, not racked on your shoulders. Did them last week, was nice to just do right after my last rep of OHP


Video with the program showed the bar racked on their shoulders. The arms extended shrugs are a good idea though and I may try those instead. Thanks for reminding me of that movement.