Assistance exercises - Strong mobility

Assistance exercises

Why do most people not get results from training?

Getting results from training is not complex. You define your goal, the targets, select a well-proven program, and follow the program.

When we start to dig a little, we see that most of the time, something from the list above is lacking. No goal creates a program-jumping behavior. No program, no gain.

Or the program has been well selected, and the trainee sticks to it. Somehow. The trainee says, and maybe thinks, he is sticking to the program, but in reality not.

“It is not hard, I am not feeling tired, so maybe I will add two sets of this and two sets of that”.

The “No pain, no gain” mentality prevents too many people to get the results their hard work deserves.

Two days ago, I was with one of my students at the gym. We freed a squat rack that was promptly filled by two young trainees. They started to squat. I was surprised to see that they had good technique. Flat back, knees aligned with the feet, heels on the floor, and deep, below parallel. Nice. Even nicer was the fact that they were not training with baby weights, but with 120 to 140kg on the bar. It is rarely seen in a commercial gym, and when it is seen, it is usually for quarter squats with horrible form. These two guys were doing something right.

They did a few sets of medium-heavy squats.

Later, I saw them doing high reps of legs curls, legs extensions, and many other tiring high reps leg exercises.


The weight they were squatting was quite ok. It showed they did some work. But it was not extraordinary either. It would not make a head turning impression in any gym where people train for strength.

Training endless high rep leg exercises (whatever they were) was only stealing their recovery capacity, without contributing at all to their gains. If this is the way they have training so far, they have just sacrificed progress for the feeling of tiredness.

How could they have trained? They could have eliminated all useless assistance exercises. The time and energy not spent on assistance could have been on one additional set of heavy squats. The body would have gotten a more powerful signal to grow stronger. Their non-exhausted muscle would recover more easily. They would be able to add weight on the bar more often; they would feel less soreness; they would feel less tired after a training session. Finally, they would be stronger.

Why then do trainees finish with endless assistance exercises? Because most of them think, wrongly, that a training is effective only if you are exhausted from it.

You do not need to feel exhausted to gain strength. You need to send a signal to your body to get stronger, and then allow the body. This is the stress and recovery process.

For a novice or intermediate, assistance exercises do not add anything to the signal sent to the body, but they steal recovery capacity. This is why most novice and intermediate strength programs focus on big lifts only.

Stick to the program. Stop doing additional assistance exercises.

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