Upper Body Accessory Exercises
Accessory work is in place to improve the main lifts performed that day, improve muscle weaknesses and increase the volume of work performed. Accessory work should be performed with low to moderate intensity to allow for optimal muscle growth and proper technique.
Failing on accessory work should be rare, and only utilized when the intensity for the main lift was relatively low. The focus of intensity on the accessory lifts during heavy sessions should be to achieve a strong muscle contraction. The intensity of accessory work done on light days should focus on muscle endurance and hypertrophy.
Heavy accessory work (done on “Heavy” Training Days) should utilize some full body movement, known as “body English” or “cheating”, to increase the muscular stimulus needed for a strong muscle contraction, but needs to be limited. The focus should be on stimulating the muscle rather than just throwing around tremendous weight.
Light accessory work (done on “Light” or “Dynamic” Training Days) should be done at a slow to moderate pace with relatively strict form to ensure proper muscle activation throughout the entire lift. It is important to always be in control of the weight during any exercise being performed.
For bodyweight exercises on both heavy and light days, perform the exercises as fast as possible while maintaining control of your entire body.
For all accessory work, always stop 1-2 repetitions before failure on all sets other than the last, which can be taken to absolute failure if desired.
Another option for accessory work is to perform it on the days between your main lift sessions. The same principles of execution apply to heavy assistance exercises versus light assistance exercises, though they can be done in the same training session. Even on accessory only days, it is important to mobilize before and after the training session.
Exercise “How To” Guide
Rotator Cuff Exercises for Shoulder Health
Everything you need to know about building a BIG Bench!
Includes a 12 Week Bench Press Program, Workouts, common Bench Press mistakes and how to fix them, and so much more in this nearly 100-page master guide!
Join the Mathias Method Army for updates and more great content like this!