Lift Big: The Best Assistance Exercises
Our experts share their top assistance exercises to help you break plateaus and hit new personal records.
BIG LIFT TWO: Bench Press
> Exercise One: BB French Press
"Hits the long heads of the triceps which are highly neglected in typical triceps training (they won't get hit during close grip, dips, or pressdowns). This adds strength to the overall triceps group and contributes to a stronger push."
> Exercise Two: Any rowing exercise
"All four rotator cuff muscles originate on the scapula, so getting those muscles strong and tight through upper back work will drastically improve stability of the shoulder capsule."
- Lee Boyce, CPT and owner of Lee Boyce Training Systems
> Execise Three: Close Grip Bench Press or Incline Close Grip Bench Press
"Depending on where in the bench press you are having problems will dictate what Assistance Exercises you will need to be doing. If you’re having trouble on the "lock out" portion of the bench press, use Close Grip Bench Presses or Incline Close Grip Bench Presses to improve triceps strength and, thus, improve lockout strength."
> Exercise Four: Bench Press Rack Lock Outs
"In this exercise, you set the height of the bar a few inches below lock out and add more weight than you can actually bench press. You then perform a couple sets of "top partial movements" which help lock out strength as well as condition your body to handle heavier weights. Psychologically this is a big help – handling heavier weights than usual also helps build confidence."
> Exercise Five: Dips or Dumbbell Bench Press
"If you are having trouble in the lower part of the bench press, use weighted full range Dips and Dumbbell Bench Presses. These movements work that lower range of motion and improve strength there. You can also add Rack work in the lower part of the bench press movement by setting the bar on your chest and moving it up and down from your chest to 6-8 inches above your chest. Use the pins in the power rack to lock yourself into that range of motion."
- Mike Duffy, CPT and owner of Mike Duffy's Personal Training