Press like a Powerlifter, Pull like a Bodybuilder – by Ben Coker

This article outlines a training philosophy that I feel holds much credit: ‘press like a powerlifter, pull like a bodybuilder.’ This philosophy carries over to most sporting disciplines that involve strength and power. Why? Because it works in unison with the way the human body is designed to work.

The function of the muscle involved in pressing movements from an evolutionary perspective is that of high force/velocity contractions. Think of this in terms of survival:

  • We thrust spears and punches for attack and defense
  • We fended off predators or attackers with our arms and thrust them off us with our legs hips if we were supine and crouched.
  • We jumped
  • We ran after prey or ran away from predators

I quote Christian Thibadeau saying ‘Pressing is performance…it’s the bodys’ primary movement pattern.’ All these movements are fundamental movements of human beings and the common factor in all of them is high force/velocity. It becomes easy to see how this basic design carries over into sports performance.

It makes logical sense therefore to train such movements with high force velocity/contractions and in order to obtain this you find that the rep range is usually lower (1-5 reps). Every pressing rep should be performed as fast as possible. The actual speed of the bar is irrelevant to a degree its all about attempting to explode into the bar and trying to move the weight as fast as possible. You can read more on this in a previous article on maximum motor unit recruitment .

Press like a powerlifter

 

This type of contraction and rep range should be utilised for bench press, shoulder press, squat, deadlift and sprinting training. Now, just to answer the question many of you are now probably thinking – but yes the deadlift and squatting are presses. Squatting is quite obviously the movement of pressing the floor away from you in order to stand up right? Well so is a deadlift. You do not pull the bar off the floor with your back (if you do your probably injured or will be soon). You press the weight up with a strong leg drive obtaining hip and knee extension whilst maintaining spinal extension- an isometric contraction.

Now lets look at pulling movements from an evolutionary perspective:

  • We grabbed prey and held onto it
  • We grappled and wrestled with prey and predators
  • We held on and pulled ourselves up when climbing trees, rocks etc
  • We maintain posture throughout the day, often having to do this often under a load, usually for duration i.e.carrying objects over a distance.

The back muscles are largely comprised of type I fibres which are slow contracting and fatiguing. This explains the evolutionary role of such muscles.  As outlined in my article highlighting the benefits of farmers walks, it is clear that performance-wise we need our pulling musculature to be trained to stabilise our bodies thoughout any high force pressing. This creates a rigid platform from which we can better transfer forces and thus perform. It makes sense therefore to train such muscles/movements using higher volume using fatigue and constant tension methods such as rest pause, drop sets, isometric holds and eccentric less pulling exercises (for extra volume without undue eccentric damage which prolongs recovery). A good article titled ‘Curing Imaginary Lat Syndrome’ follows on this idea.

Pull like a bodybuilder

On a side note Joe Defranco adopts such a training philosophy with his athletes, not just for the obvious performance results the blend produces but also for the great results it has for shoulder longevity. Again I quote ‘we train the bench press like a powerlifter and the back like a bodybuilder… The upper back will always get twice the volume of our pressing muscles… [using] bodybuilding form and technique.’

Now there are a few exceptions or should I say instances where pressing movements can be trained more along the fatigue methodology. Our legs carry our body all day, everyday, and resultantly have a large amount of type I fibres. Its not surprising therefore that they will respond well to higher volume and or fatigue training too. I am a huge fan of volume training for legs. Now if you are clever you will realise that utilising both methods of training will be advantage for progressions sake in the leg department!

Some people may raise the question – ‘If deadlifts are training pressing and thus using lower reps, why is it then that they develop your back musculature so much?’ The answer: The back is working in an isometric hold for the entire duration of a rep/sets. In a set of 5 reps for a heavy deadlift the back is under isometric tension for about 20-30 seconds! Exactly how I prescribed the back to be trained.

I also understand hypertrophy specific methods can be added into a programme but on the whole the concept of press like a powerlifter and pull like a bodybuilder forms a very solid template from which to structure the majority of your training, especially if performance is more important to you. Lets not forget that training muscles in the way they were designed to work is going to lead to substantial hypertrophy regardless.

Now lets put this all together. To perform we need (1) to press with high force and (2) our pulling muscles must create a rigid platform for us to transfer those forces. To do this efficiently we need our pulling muscles to be trained to stabilise our bodies throughout any high force pressing, or over multiple presses. Therefore train the pressing muscles like a powerlifter; heavy and powerful for fewer reps whilst training your pulling muscles with fatigue and constant tension methods for higher volume. The perfect blend for a healthy and truly functional athletic performer.

The result: Athletic performance on a big scale!

Farmers Walks: The Overlooked Solution To Many Problems – by Ben Coker

The idea for this article came after a chat I had with two friends who are both training powerlifters. The context of the conversation was this: 6 weeks out from a meet one of them wanted to do ‘something a bit different’ and do some strongman stuff to break from the grind of competitive lifts and band/speed work etc. The other suggested it would be detrimental to the meet preparation. After listening on the debate I said that actually I think its a great idea, putting forward the question, ‘Do you know the benefits that heavy farmers walks can bring to your competition lifts and other lifts in general?’ After a brief silence I explained…

Farmers walks are one of the simplest and most function exercises ever. Period. Standing and walking are primal essential functions of human life and this exercise is just that. Stand up with a heavy weight and then walk with it a given distance. Every major muscle group is involved in this exercise, and not only that, dependant on the working distance, great stress can be put upon the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Marius reaped the benefits of heavy farmers walks!

Lets think about the muscular actions and anatomical movements that are occurring and how they can benefit competition lifts and main compound lifts in general.

The farmers walk trains the entire posterior and anterior chains; the traps down to the forearms including the entire spinal core musculature. I hope your ready. Here it is from head to toe:

Farmers walks build monster traps. The upper traps are recruited to hold the shoulder girdle in elevation or at least maintain neutral. This distributes some of the load off of the spine making the weight feel lighter and thereby helps you keep proper posture. How do strong upper traps benefit other lifts?

  • If you are a raw bencher than the mechanics of the lift require the bar to be positioned higher up the body as you raise and lower the bar. This means that the upper back especially the shoulder girdle need to be stabilised and this is accomplished greatly in part by having a strong upper trap contraction.
  • When deadlifting strong traps are needed just as they are in a farmers walk to help distribute some of the load off of the spine making the weight feel lighter and enable better form of spinal extension.
  • When overhead pressing the upper traps play a huge role in lifting the weight. A shoulder press involves elevation of the shoulder girdle and that is the main role of the upper traps.
  • When squatting having strong chunky traps will not only allow you to tighten up and squeeze the upper back more (giving more stability and force transmission from the legs) it also means that the bar can sit more comfortably and stable on your shoulders. Ever wondered how Koklayev can squat 290kg with no hands? That’s part of the answer.
  • When bicep curling, if your upper traps aren’t strong enough to stabilise the shoulder girdle the weight you can curl greatly drops.

 

Farmers walks build a back of gorilla-like proportions.  The upper back (including lats) and all spinal erector muscles comes into play to ‘pin’ back the shoulder blades, maintain spinal extension, prevent spinal rotation and also lock the arms in position as the weights being carried want to oscillate. How does a strong back benefit other lifts?

  • When bench pressing (raw or with gear) a strong upper back, including lats, are needed to secure the scapulae and provide a solid platform for the pressing muscles to act off of.
  • An integral part of the deadlift is a strong upper back. This enables an efficient transfer of force from the legs down to the arms by ensuring a stable shoulder girdle and preventing the weight from swinging forward (i.e. arms moving forward) as to maintain a shorter lever arm and less torque through the lower back. Needless to say having strong spinal erectors will enable you to maintain spinal extension under greater loads, which in the deadlift will allow a greater transfer of energy from the legs to the shoulder girdle and down to the bar – a bigger lift.
  • The upper back includes the lower trapezius muscle group and this muscle plays a role in scapulae adduction (key for deadlift shoulder girdle stability) but more importantly is its role in upward rotation of the scapulae. Any overhead press involves upward rotation of the scapulae. Not only is a strong upper back needed to maintain cervical extension but also strong lower traps are needed to assist in and ensure the correct movement of the scapulae in upward rotation. This is key not only for strength purposes but also shoulder health. It is also key in overhead pressing movements to have a strong spinal erectors to enable you to keep a strong upright platform for you to press the weight off of.
  • When squatting upper back strength is vital to ensure maintenance of spinal extension, and a tight grip on the bar. If your low back is weak then you will struggle to squat any type of decent weight and risk injury through not being able to keep spinal extension and allowing maximal energy transfer from legs to bar. How many people ‘fold’ when squatting as their upper back is simply poor. Maybe you’re one of them?
  • Going back to the bicep curl (because I know people out there still want to curl a car). If your upper back sucks, your shoulder girdle will not be stable enough to curl heavy weights. How many guys do you see curling, hunch back with their shoulder blades pointing out their back like a directional sign. Guys drop the curls and work on your Kroc rows.

 

Farmers walks develop the whole of your legs. You have to be stupid to not understand that walking with a stupidly heavy load requires a lot of lower body recruitment. Granted, they won’t build muscle or strength in the legs like squatting and deadlifting but their role in maintaining an upright posture is crucial. The glutes and hamstrings are needed for propulsion and in achieving full extension at the hip and knee. If you can’t extend the hip and the knees under a heavy load how do you expect to keep your spine in an upright position? You can’t. All you will do is put more torque stress through the spine which is tiring and potentially dangerous for spinal longevity. Carrying over to other lifts, simply think deadlift and squat lock outs and stabilising your torso during an overhead press and you should appreciate how maintaining hip and knee extension is beneficial.

Farmers walks develop a scaffold pole of a torso. The core is a whole body working together concept and farmers walks involve just that. Due to the various torques that exist in all planes of movement during a farmers walk it’s no surprise that these give all your core musculature a battle – that includes the major muscle groups as well as the deep musculature. The cross-over of having a rock solid core needs not preaching. In short: a strong core allows energy transfers through the body to be more efficient. Better transfer of energy means more force output, thus improving all lifts not to mention the health and longevity benefits.

Farmers walks will give you an iron claw. Grip strength – the bane of many lifters. Stop moaning and using straps. Instead, get some farmers walks done. A strong grip is associated with nearly all lifts. Studies have proven that squeezing the bar whilst squatting, pressing, and curling will lead to more motor unit recruitment. Not to mention the fact that strong grip strength means you can hold more weight without straps, key for strength competitors. Oh, and bodybuilders, I forgot you don’t need superhuman grip strength to excel in your sport. Fair point I agree but I ask you this: forearms look amazing when they look like dinosaur legs right? You bet they do. Do farmers walks as a finisher and get your forearms to epic proportions.

There you have it. I ask you now, ‘do you think farmers walks will help improve your lifts?’ If your answer is still unsure, seeing as I can’t slap you, I will leave you with this note instead. The more you become trained the more you have to put in to get returns. When your a newbie you can put in say 1 unit of effort (training, diet, rest etc) to get 10 units of results (size, strength etc). As you become seasoned and further away from your pre-training state you find that you have to put more units of effort in to get less units of result. That’s why pro lifters don’t keep growing or getting stronger at the rate that weed does who had just started going to the gym and now actually eats something more than a bowl of coco pops each day!

Take this idea back to my lifter friend preparing for his meet. He is continually getting down with the grind of his competition lifts. He is experiencing diminishing returns for his effort (not his fault it’s just how the body works). He can however try to maximise improvements in his lifts given what time he has. I suggested that investing time in movements like the farmers walk is likely to increase his chances of putting 5kg on his bench press in a few weeks then simply continuing to pound away on benching movements. Why? If you haven’t figured it out yet, the benching movements are relatively highly trained compared to the accessory muscles. Therefore in a few weeks the lesser trained muscles will improve at a greater percent than those more highly trained. A few weeks after giving this advice I happened to see the guy post the following as his Facebook status: ‘What a week! 3 new PBs and a 230 Deadlift!’ Enough said. Get walking. Farmers Walking.

Inspiration 02/04/11

It’s Sunday, so we have your regular dose of inspirational stuff to get you amped up for the training week ahead. Enjoy:
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First, some awe inspiring lifting from the guys at EliteFTS.
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Gilbert Arenas tells us ‘Impossible is nothing’
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Victory is waiting for you. Go and get it!
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Jim Telfer’s 97 lions tour speech. Brutally epic.
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 Train hard. Train Smart. Stay strong.

Building a Bad Ass Fighter – by Ben Coker

I have numerous associates that are involved in fighting sports and resultantly I am frequently asked about training programmes to help develop ‘specific conditioning’ for a fighter for upcoming fights. The physical demands of professional fighting are intense. Muscular strength, power and endurance are all crucial to success. It is clear that training must be aimed to increase all of these. How do we develop all of these at the same time? Well it isn’t as daunting as it first appears as I will explain.
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I don’t want to go into strength training in this article as the area that causes most confusion lies in developing ‘specific conditioning’ for a fight a.k.a. the muscular endurance. A side note: In terms of pure strength training for a fighter I feel success is obtained in just the same way it is for any athlete: include all the main compound movements; Squat, deadlift, row/chin up variation, overhead press, bench press. Do them heavy and do them fast, this means pure strength days and speed days.  ‘Specific conditioning’ is achieved by mimicking a fight by doing the anatomical movements that occur in a fight separated by no or short rest periods to develop the oxidative capacity of the muscles involved as well as developing cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Cutting to the chase here are the exercises that i consider to give a fighter in training ‘bang for his buck’.
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Tornado ball
This exercise works all of the stabilising muscles of the torso as well as developing power from the hip. This movement mimics that of punching from the hip, developing the power in the legs and hip and then enabling it to be transferred through the torso by strengthening its stability.  (Hulse’s reference to it not being a conditioning exercise is in the context of the exercise alone. Used as one exercise in a circuit it can be used for conditioning whilst developing power).
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Renegade rows
This exercise would benefit a fighter who has mounted an opponent in an attempt to ‘ground and pound’. Through developing sagital, horizontal and frontal stability, this exercise will allow a greater transfer of power through the torso and thus delivery through the arm to the opponent.
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SA T-bar jerk press (1st exercise in video)
The first exercise shown here offers a unique movement that develops power in the arms, shoulders and especially the legs and hips. A great exercise to develop punching power using a straight arm…no ‘windmilling here’.
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Sandbag or Turkish get ups
Get ups are fantastic at strengthening and stabilising your body as you move from supine to standing. Lets face it no fighter wants to be stuck on his back and not have the strength and stability to be able to stand up when there is a external force attempting to pin him down.
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Barbell glute bridges
Glute bridges are a great exercises for developing power in hip extension which is key for developing punching power but more specifically enhancing the ability to throw an opponent of off you if you are supine and they get some wise idea about attempting to pummel your face in. Train this movement heavy and fast and you’ll be amazed at how easily you’ll be able to throw an opponent off of you!
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Burpees
This grandad of exercise still has its place. It develops eccentric strength and concentric power in the chest and triceps as well developing muscular endurance. It strengthens the core musculature of the torso and develops power and muscular endurance in the legs and glutes. If you can bang these out effortlessly even when weighted then you’ll have no problem springing up off the mat repeatedly, crucially getting to your feet quicker…which is where the fight is won.
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Battle ropes
This  fantastic exercise and its variations works the entire upper body strength, endurance and stability.There is a strong focus on your core, arms, grip, anaerobic and aerobic systems whilst remaining non impact. Even the legs and glutes can be worked when performing larger movements. These are also great for developing the rotator cuffs which are crucial for shoulder health when shoulder is exposed to extreme velocities
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Farmers walks
This exercise is overlooked for the many benefits it provides to the whole body in terms of strength, stability and conditioning. I wont delve into the exercise in further detail as it is the focus of an upcoming article. Just trust me when i say they are a must!
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Towel/ rope chins
Grip strength for a fighter is crucial when it comes to grappling! Not only will farmers walks help with that but towel/rope chins are fantastic at giving you an iron claw. For those who think outside the box try Towel T-bar rows too as an alternative.
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Sled Rows
These are great for developing grip, upper back strength and muscular endurance.They also force you to tighten up your complete abdominal and lumbar musculature to provide a stable platform. These are key to strong grappling.
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Bear hug carries
It’s all well and good having strong biceps, pectorals, lats, legs and glutes but they need to put to practice and trained in a functional way. Bear hugging a heavy bag or other large object and carrying it over a distance will have your arms and grip screaming, your back and chest pumping and your lungs burning! For the grapplers and wrestlers out there this is a must.
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Wrap up
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This is no means an extensive list but it gives exercises that I feel are great for developing a formidably conditioned fighter. Stay tuned for upcoming articles that delve more into further conditioning ideas. As an idea on how to create a decent circuit consider the following:
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Towel Chin ups – failure
Farmers walk – 25m
Renegade rows – 8 reps per side
Bear hug carry – 25m
Burpees – 20reps
Barbell glute bridges – 10reps
Tornado ball – 10 secs
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Remember these aren’t meant to be easy. Choose as many exercises as you wish, perform as many reps as you wish, rest as little as you can. Don’t get lazy. Push your limits. Enjoy.

Make the Most of It – by Jamie Bolton

Make the most of those days when the world is your oyster. Push them for all their worth.
The days when you walk into the gym and that 100kg press from last week feels that extra bit light. Milk it. Milk it for all its worth. Hammer yourself. Do more work

I’m a big believer in auto-regulatory styled training. Sure, have a structure. I think walking into the gym blind with no plan, is one of the biggest mistakes trainees make. But keep it loose and don’t take it as a hard and fast ‘rule’ of what you must and must only do.

If you walk in and had planned to work up to a top set in the squat of say 160kg for 3, but you get there and it feels light. Then go to town. Chances are you knew halfway on your ramp up to it that it may feel that way today. So adjust. Rep it out. Or add extra sets. Or keep ramping up to a new top set for 3. That’s how you smash PBs. That’s how you progress.

 

Make the most of the days when the world is your oyster

 

Your body is in a constant state of flux. It never stays the same. Nor is it predictable how it will really be ready to perform. Sure, you can periodise and plan all you like, but if you walked in and planned a lower volume day but you feel like you can dominate the world, then do you really think it’ll be optimal to stop short? Maximise the training effect that your body is willing to allow you to put it through. Take what your body gives you.

The reverse also applies. Some days you walk in, having planned a heavy session. Then you walk in, and the warm up sets feel a bit off and heavier than they should. Your grip feels a bit off. Your form is a little awkward. Then it might be wise to reconsider your goals for the day and adjust the volume downwards. What might be enough one day might be too much another. There’s no point in sacrificing form just to try and push a weight that’s just too much today. If its not there, it’s not there. Save the battle for another day.

Don’t take that as an excuse to take an easy ride. The point here is to look for physical cues not mental ones. Weights feeling lighter/heavier. Weights flying up faster/slower. Grip or form tighter or a bit off today. Not “I can’t really be bothered today” – that’s just weak and a sure fire way to make no progress.

I’ll quote Christian Thibaudeau of T-nation, as its one that bears repeating:

“The more you can train without compromising your ability to recover, the more you’ll progress”.

Take what your body gives you each day. If its there to be pushed a bit harder, do it. If its not – don’t. Simple.

Gym Antics #2

Today we’ve got another 9 antics which just shouldn’t happen! Enjoy:
1. Checking for non-existent ‘abs’ in the gym mirror. In fact, checking your abs full stop, unless you’re an IFBB pro put it away, we don’t need to see it in the gym.

2. Walking around with a chip on your shoulder. No you don’t know it all. No one does. Always keep an open mind, you could be surprised at what you might learn.

3. Fat people in spandex. Just no.

4. Over-belief in supplements. No they’re not magical. They’re not steroids. They’re supplements. Will they make a difference if used correctly. A little, yes. But ONLY if everything else is in order. And if you believe they’re ‘magical’, chances are everything else ISN’T in order, so they probably wont make a blind bit of difference for you. Get the big things in order first.

5. People who abuse the use of spotters. “It’s all you bro, come on!” Well, it clearly isn’t all you. Use a spotter just in case, not as a method to get extra ‘reps’ that are 50% from the spotter.

6. People who don’t say thank you. Not just in the gym but anywhere, I mean, if I hold a door open for you its the least you can say surely?!

7. People who have an ‘arms’ day whilst sporting a twig-frame. I’m not shouting down direct arm work, its definitely important, once you have a good base of development. But if you resemble Christian Bale in the machinist, then your arms aren’t lagging – your whole body is.

If you look like this, drop the 'arms' day and go eat something!

8. People giving unhelpful lifting cues. For instance on a standing overhead press, with a guy stuck mid lock out and you’ve got 4 ‘bros’ shouting at him ‘lock out, lock out, lock out!’. I’m pretty certain he knows what he has to lock out! Try actually being helpful and give useful cues like ‘brace’, and ‘breathe’ even!

9. Using the box squat as an excuse to squat high. I don’t care that you’re going down far enough to touch the box. If the damn box is already almost at your hips to start with you’re still squatting too shallow!

That’s all for now. Until next time. Train hard. Stay strong.

What winds you up in the gym? Let us know in the comments below!

The Spartan Approach to Assistance Work – by Jamie Bolton

Assistance work is a funny topic.Some people have a list as long as their arm when it comes to it, and hit muscles from every conceivable angle and with every possible piece of apparatus to ‘maximise’ their gains. Others pick exercises which exacerbate their weaknesses, rather than correcting them, leading to muscular imbalances, posture problems and ultimately sub-optimal performance.

For example, with someone struggling to improve their bench, they may find that doing extra accessory work on pecs (with various flies & presses maybe) is not the remedy to the issue. The issue may be to do with poor scapulae stability, lack of trap and upper back strength and stability (raw lifters especially), lack of lat strength and stability (lifters in gear especially) or tricep weakness.

What it boils down to, is that your assistance work may not even be assisting! First of all lets remember what we are actually trying to achieve when it comes to assistance work. In fact, if you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend that you read the ‘8s of training’ parts one and two to remind yourself what each part of your training structure is designed to achieve, but I digress.

Assistance work comes into play after we have completed our main lift or movement of the day, and typically, we are trying to achieve one of two things:
1. Accumulate more volume for the target muscle groups that work in our main lift/movement.
2. Bring up weaknesses in either terms of performance and/or aesthetics.

The second reason is an often cited one, yet  for probably ⅔ of lifters out their they don’t have weaknesses in the sense they perceive they do. The reality of most people’s situation is that everything is a weakness. Unless you can cite some proper reasoning for why something is a weakness, chances are it isn’t. By this I mean, for instance, weak triceps hindering your bench lockout, a judge at a contest commenting your rear delts effect the shape of your back badly, instability at the hip causing power loss out the blocks when sprinting, and so on.

As you may have noticed from some of my stuff by now, I’m a big believer in minimalism and keeping things simple. We can apply the 80/20 principle again here, i.e. that 20% of what you do is responsible for 80% of your results. What I’m going to propose here thus may sound outlandish, but hear me out. I want you to use two, yes just two exercises for your assistance work.

20% of what you do gives you 80% of your results

What this forces you to do is think about what you are choosing and focus on exercises that provide the most ‘bang for your buck’. Sometimes I’ll go further and only pick one assistance lift. Look at it like this, if I’ve ramped up and done some heavy squats as my main movement, followed up by some trap bar deadlifts for volume, and finish off with some sled pushes and pulls for conditioning, do you honestly think I am losing anything by not doing more?

Moreover, if you do have a long long list of assistance work to get through, I find it detracts from the workout in the sense that you may find you have to ‘pace’ yourself too much, as it seems like there is so much more to do. By limiting assistance work to two movements, it allows you to really focus on what you are doing. Not least, it saves a good amount of time. And don’t misinterpret that last bit, I’m not calling for minimising gym time, what I’m calling for is maximising quality of time in the gym.

Now here’s what I want you to do. For the next two weeks, limit your assistance to two movements that are the best investment of your training time. And if afterwards you really believe you need to add more back in, then do it, but only after two weeks. And don’t add it back just for the sake of of it.

To give an idea of how this may look, I’ll give some examples.

For the bodybuilder, on back day. You might start with deadlifts, and then for assistance follow up with bent-over barbell row and pull ups.

For the powerlifter on bench day, you start with bench press (you would hope!), and follow up with say dips and chins.

For an athlete, after doing power cleans, you might follow up with front squats and military presses as assistance.

In particular, I realise that every bodybuilder out there will be screaming, “that’s not enough”. And quite possibly they may be right, and require the extra volume to grow optimally. But I’d still recommend trying it, you may find yourself surprised. But for the performance athletes, I honestly believe that once you go too far beyond two assistance movements all you really serve to do is detract from recovery and future performance. Especially when you throw into the balance that you have conditioning work, skill work and the like lined up on your schedule also.

To finish off, one last prescription is required. Sets and reps. Now, with the main movement already done in our workout at this point, what we are really trying to achieve here is the accumulation of volume. That leaves things pretty open, and that’s kind of the way I want to leave it to you. Anything sensible, from 4×6-10 right the way up to 5×10-15 can work here. To really switch things up sometimes I’ll even do 10×3 with a weight I could move for 6 reps initially. The point is to get in some volume to support that main movement.

Finally, don’t forget to be a bit flexible with it if you need to. If you’re feeling like crap for some reason that day and the session isn’t quite going to plan, then there’s no real harm in backing off a little, there’s no point in beating yourself up. Equally, on those days where you feel great, don’t be afraid to push it a little more and amp it up a bit.

Wrap Up
That’s the spartan approach to assistance. Why use more than you need to do the job? Try doing just two assistance movements only for 2 weeks and get back to me.

“It is futile to use more to achieve what can be done with less.” Occam’s Razor

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