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Thread: accessory work?? your thoughts

  1. #1
    Steve Buccilli 1400total's Avatar
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    accessory work?? your thoughts

    I come from a background of bodybuilding type training (even competed back in the day). So i built a solid foundation before switching over to powerlifting. HOwever powerlifting training was not like bodybuilding and or general fitness training. You focus on the 3 core lifts Squats, Bench, and Deadlift.

    For the first year I focused on several "templates" such as sheiko, Korte and smolov, etc. (basically volume training centered around the core lifts).
    These routines leave no time or energy for accessories.
    But is this bad?

    Well in my humble opinion yes. For me it worked but remember I had years of bodybuilding type training and had built a very solid foundation.

    These routines of course have a place, primarily the last 6 weeks before a meet, or even to do a cycle to perfect your form, but to do back to back all the time will lead to issues and ultimately injuries.
    Because they leave out accessory work

    so what do we mean by accessory work,

    here are some examples:

    after a heavy squat workout I typically do leg extensions, leg curls, hypers, rope ab crunches, one legged leg presses, and calf raises. These are typically done with a rep range of 10 to 20. The idea is to move blood around and work the muscles from different angles.

    in my last discussion I mentioned my hip really bothering me. Well I had missed a heavy squat workout during a two week cycle. That also meant I missed my leg and lower back accessories.
    After performing them my hip feels 100% better even after a squat workout.

    You can mix things up when doing accessories, incline benches, JM presses, Kettlebell work, one arm rows using the smith machine, good mornings, the list is endless.
    The object is not to get stronger on the accessory work, but to build a solid foundation to handle heavier weights on the big three.

    I am looking for other feedback on this topic since it is a discussion.
    so feel free to add your experiances too.

  2. #2
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Have you read up much on Westside Barbell training?


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  3. #3
    Steve Buccilli 1400total's Avatar
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    a little
    I feel accessories are important, yet I see others who don't do any. One of the many things I enjoy about powerlifting is the science behind it, or at the least the reasoning behind it. Picking exercises to enhance and or strengthed weakness to support the big 3 is and can be highly individualistic. Yet some will see what th "pros" do and follow blindly not knowing why or how.

    When first got into powerlifting (about 2 1/2 years ago) I started with very basic routines like sheiko. But now that i have learned my body much better I incorporate acccessories a lot more.

    but I believe there needs to be some reasons behind it.
    For example, if you have strong hips, quads and hams, but a weak lower back, you may want to focus on some pull throughs, reverse hypers, glute ham machine, good mornings to target that weak link.

    DO you agree?

  4. #4
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Yes, very much so, that's why I asked if you'd read any of Louie Simmons stuff.

    Reason is, you are basically describing in a small part the foundational philosophy behind the Westside Barbell method. Or at least our approach to accessory work. We do a lot of accessory work.

    Bench day - after our bench movement, we do upper back, lats, tris and shoulders

    Squat day - after squat movement, it's hams, lower back, hips and glutes (both of these are quite general, it's a little individualized based upon each lifter)

    But the main movements as well as the accessory work is all based upon the lifters specific weakness.

    Some people have made excellent gains using programs like Sheiko. Like you, when I started out in powerlifting, that was what I used as well, but found it to be very non specific and my sticking points always stayed the same.

    If you really enjoy the science behind the work, you might consider buying Lou's book (Westside Book of Methods) He's working on another book at the time, but it's not set to release any time in the near future.


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    Steve Buccilli 1400total's Avatar
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    thanks I will check out his book.

  6. #6
    Bad Attitude Gym AdamBAG's Avatar
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    I agree with you. I think bodybuilding style accessory work is needed for powerlifting. As Travis pointed out, the Westside methods incorporate lots of assistance work. I believe in Louie's methods. Once you realize that he isn't giving you a "template" and is just giving you guidelines to program your own training is when you really start to have success with Westside style training. Hell, I'm sure Travis can tell you, even the guys at WSB don't do the same thing all the time. Each guy has to individualize his training, especially assistance work to optimize his results.
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    Michael KGM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    Bench day - after our bench movement, we do upper back, lats, tris and shoulders

    Squat day - after squat movement, it's hams, lower back, hips and glutes (both of these are quite general, it's a little individualized based upon each lifter)

    But the main movements as well as the accessory work is all based upon the lifters specific weakness.
    Since I have started thinking about lifting like this everything seems to make a lot more since, especially the lifts I want to be using. Upper/Lower seems to be a great and simple split. I have been doing abs on lower days with the thought to pair them with lower back but some days I am wiped by the time I get to them. What are your thoughts on abs? Get them in whenever...?



    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bell View Post
    the main movements as well as the accessory work is all based upon the lifters specific weakness.
    Is there any reason why sheiko training could not use this idea(in bold) and fit the bill? From the looks of it most who did not get much from sheiko kept to the template while those that got it to work actually tailored it to their needs. It seems like the obvious choice since the routine does not allow for added assistance work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGM View Post
    Is there any reason why sheiko training could not use this idea(in bold) and fit the bill? From the looks of it most who did not get much from sheiko kept to the template while those that got it to work actually tailored it to their needs. It seems like the obvious choice since the routine does not allow for added assistance work.
    To an extent, I would say Sheiko does allow for this. The basic templates are based on the generalized ideas derived from the tons of research the Russians did. The templates as designed are a good starting point, but the lifter would be expected to being to move toward more specificity and learn what supplemental and developmental SPP exercises produce the best result in his training over time. Yes, you do a lot of work with the competition lifts, but there is opportunity with every workout to substitute different supplemental/developmental exercises. I know some guys that use variations of the competition lifts as well, but to be honest, I am unsure about this because of the called-for percentages used for the competition lifts. I would agree with your statement though, a lifter should have better success tailoring the program to his own needs and after going through the book, I would say that is the intent.

  9. #9
    Westside Bencher Travis Bell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KGM View Post
    Since I have started thinking about lifting like this everything seems to make a lot more since, especially the lifts I want to be using. Upper/Lower seems to be a great and simple split. I have been doing abs on lower days with the thought to pair them with lower back but some days I am wiped by the time I get to them. What are your thoughts on abs? Get them in whenever...?
    Definitely get them in on your lower days, but don't be afraid to get them in on additional days as well.



    Is there any reason why sheiko training could not use this idea(in bold) and fit the bill? From the looks of it most who did not get much from sheiko kept to the template while those that got it to work actually tailored it to their needs. It seems like the obvious choice since the routine does not allow for added assistance work.
    Well, the way that Westside works with the main lifts, is we pick a ME movement (say 2brd with bands) based upon a lifters weakness.

    You can't do that with Sheiko, because it's based off your current maxes of the squat, bench and dead. So to throw 2brd in there one day as your main lift, would be skipping a week of full range reps at whatever percentage you were supposed to use.

    A lot of times I get asked why you can't just do your Sheiko sets for the day, and then do a second heavy movement with something odd (we're just going to keep using 2brd as an example) And the problem with that is you're going to get into overtraining a lot in a hurry. Sheiko is designed with helping you get your appropriate volume in at each session.

    However, I do suppose someone, if they had the available endurance, could throw in some of the accessory movements to help bring up their weaknesses. I think they would just have to be careful they didn't over exhaust themselves (note, difference between that and overtraining) to the point where they cannot recover between then and the next session.


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    1400 I live in Pittsburgh also and train at a gym most powerlifters would think of as heaven. It's owned and run by a powerlifting family very very well versed in most all trainingin methods but most specifically westside methodologies. Feel free to contact me and stop up the gym, we're always looking for enthusiastic lifters. We have 3 monolifts, GHR's, reverse hypers, bands, chains, all the bars and anything else you can think of.

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    In my opinion (as someone using Sheiko methods), I would say the assessment above is right on. The way weaknesses are brought up in Sheiko is through the SPP exercises after the competition lifts, i.e., good mornings, front squats, etc., but if your aim was to work these secondary movements heavy (possibly like a max effort movement), it wouldn't be long before you would end up in trouble because of the already very high volume you are doing on the competition lifts. I'll use something like straight-leg sumo DL's as developmental SPP for my pull, quite a few sets, but I'm leaving reps in the tank.

  12. #12
    Steve Buccilli 1400total's Avatar
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    I agree with Athos. I have used sheiko in the past. I liked it when I used use it, but within a year I was overtrained and needed a change. I also started incorporating some gear and I feel that sheiko should be done raw.

    This is what has led me to realize (mainly from excellant coaching from the guys at Celli's and Ryan himself too) how important accesory work is.

    I hear a lot of folks wondering what the "big guys" do to get big and wonder why its such a secret. BUt I chalk that up to the individualistic nature of the human body.
    what works for one may not work for another.

    What does work is an analytical approach to training in which others can help spot your weak points so that they can be focused on and improved.

  13. #13
    Michael KGM's Avatar
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    Thanks for the information guys. Very insightful.
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    Nelson Snyder
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    Hey Steve i feel that accessory work is needed for me i have tried without it on bench days and my bench went right down and i never really trained abs until lately and have made huge gains in my deadlift i also have been lifting a long time but only powerlifting for 2 years so i have alot to learn but accessory work i feel is needed without it my first meet was 1/08 i totaled 1315@193 and then i started doing my accessory work and cut my training days down to 3 which Ryan was a huge help in getting me in the right direction and on 8/09 i went 1575@196 raw.

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    THE 800 QUEST NickAus's Avatar
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    I agree also, training my upperback and rear delts helped my shirt bench as much as lock-outs did.

    I would never do a program where you didn't do much upperback it's just too important for all three lifts.

    I really like westside for this reason plus you can shape it to fit you 100% and not be doing movements that you don't need or that may hurt an old injury etc.
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    Senior Member SELK's Avatar
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    I do less accessory work then most people, but greater overall volume in the main lifts or close variations (ie varying accommodating resistance). I think you just have to find what works for you. Ive used tons of accessory work in the past and found it to be not as beneficial to my lifts as adding in more volume to a core lift. I am not the strongest guy, but using this approach has consistently brought my lifts up.
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    Steve Buccilli 1400total's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsnyder View Post
    Hey Steve i feel that accessory work is needed for me i have tried without it on bench days and my bench went right down and i never really trained abs until lately and have made huge gains in my deadlift i also have been lifting a long time but only powerlifting for 2 years so i have alot to learn but accessory work i feel is needed without it my first meet was 1/08 i totaled 1315@193 and then i started doing my accessory work and cut my training days down to 3 which Ryan was a huge help in getting me in the right direction and on 8/09 i went 1575@196 raw.
    damn Nelson, thats some awesome improvements! How is the training coming?

  18. #18
    Nelson Snyder
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    LOL thanks Steve traing is going good trying to do a meet in feb looking to put between 50 and 100 on my total when i was in pitt. last week Ryan was helping me adjust some things on my bench i need to focus on getting my tris stronger what about you and by the way great post.

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    Steve Buccilli 1400total's Avatar
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    I am getting ready for the SPF iron house classic in Columbus on APril 24th. I would like to total 2100

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    Nelson Snyder
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    You will get that no problem.

  21. #21
    Wannabebig Member
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    My 2c on the Sheiko stuff:

    1) Sheiko has little/no assistance work. This is said a lot whereas in fact, typically, you would do upwards of 300 reps of assistance work weekly. Following the assistance work as written would generally mean you end up doing a ton of flyes, dips and GM's but Sheiko himself said that the assistance movments are one of the elements of the routines that should be altered to suit individual weaknesses/requirements based on each lifters needs. Typically I will do some of each of flyes, rear delts, floor press, GMs, RDLs and chins weekly, within the traditional template.

    2) The 2board thing...in fact a lot of equipped lifters who use Sheiko training do exactly what was described as impossible. Say your Day 1 session is 80%x3x3 and 85%x2x2, instead of basing these lifts of the full ROM raw bench 1RM, you can just base it off your 2board 1RM.

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