If you’re a CrossFit, or strength and conditioning coach, you probably have had borderline cringe-inducing moments watching your athletes complete their accessory work.
Truth is, most athletes I’ve witnessed aren’t getting everything they could out of accessory work. The majority of them rush through it without any kind of detectable focus. And while it might seem like accessory exercises are the easy part of your training session, if it’s done correctly in a deliberate and calculated way, it’s is where many of the gains are made.
First, let’s talk about what accessory work is so we’re all on the same page:
It is (often) isolation movements that essentially supplement the other strength and skill work you’re doing. So basically, accessory work should help enhance the gains you’re already getting from the main lifts like squats, deadlifts and presses. It can also include both preparatory and rehabilitation exercises to help you fix any weak points and iron out muscle imbalances, again enhancing your performance and keeping you injury-free in the process.
Still confused. When you think of accessory work, think glute bridges, back extensions, lat pulldown, banded rows etc etc…
Take your glute bridges seriously!!
Now you’re probably wondering if you’re doing your accessory work right. If you can relate to any of the following, you’re probably missing the mark:
- “How important can this tempo requirement be? I’ll just do it at the pace that feels natural.” (If you’ve had that thought, you’re probably not getting all you can out of your accessory work).
- You’re still not sure what accessory work is.
- You sometimes think these thoughts as you’re ploughing through your seated banded rows: What’s the point in this? I don’t feel anything? What’s this supposed to be working, anyway?”
- You often do your accessory work with a coffee in your hand.
- You think of the post-workout accessory work as a time to chat and casually catch up with your friends.
- You always finish way before everyone else and wonder why they all look like they’re struggling so much.
- You have been doing a ton of pulling accessory work but you’re pulling hasn’t gotten any stronger.
- You refer to accessory work as the easy stuff at the end of the real workout.
- You skip it all together and go for a 1-mile row instead.
Take your accessory work seriously: It’s often where the biggest gains are made!