I've been asked recently about accessory lifts and how to incorporate them in to your training. So, I took this question to the streets! And by the streets, I mean I texted my buddies and asked what they thought. Basically for me, I'll have to explain my basic training template first. Pretraining always consists of a general warm up, then some light stretching and mobility followed by a specific warm up. This takes about 15 minutes, at which point the athlete should be prepared for the primary work for the day which probably includes powerlifting, olympic lifting, strongman, kettlebell training or gymnastics. After the main lift for the day, which is usually just one or two main movements like squats, cleans and deadlifts, or planches and levers, the athlete then performs 2-4 accessory exercises that build their weakness. You must assess whether the weakness is a technical issue or a strength issue. If its a technical issue, the athlete will be well served by performing lot of volume with high frequency of the lift that is giving them problems, with submaximal weights. They simply will not get better without practice. Just make sure to keep the intensity a little lower to not blast them to death, train the technique. If it is a strength issue, a good idea is to use partial range of movement exercises like pin pulls for deads or board presses for bench. Brandon Lilly, one of the strongest lifters in the world and creator of the Cube Method, says its a good idea to train your main lifts like a powerlifter and your accessory lifts like a bodybuilder. You want to play the part AND look the part.
Brian Doberdruk, from The Strength Lab in Wilmington, Ohio, trains young athletes and focuses on injury prevention and unilateral movements while taking a bodybuilding style approach to his accessory lifts. Wise man.
Mike House, owner of House Strength Camp in Houston, is a Kettlebell Champion and a strong dude, his response was in regard to kettlebell training in specific. Movements like the kettlebell snatch, long cycle, or biathlon require a bit of skill and technique. After training those high skill movements it is a good idea to lower the skill level and train just heavy swings to improve the grip strength and condition the body. Heavy doubles are fantastic as well. I will add that one of the best KB accessory drills is training with a big glove, like an oven mitt, or soft cotton gloves that make it harder to grip the bell. After just a few minutes your grip will be on fire, trust me. Get Kettlebells HERE
Pro bodybuilder, Jordan Renee, pictured above, says to "train the fuck out of it" if she has a weak link. No geeky science or overly complicated bullshit, just a real response from someone who is getting insane results from her training. It was the best answer I've ever gotten on any question ever in life. I love her style and I would kill to be her thigh master. Just take a minute and let it all sink in, I'll wait. If you want a leaner body, the best accessory exercise you can do is exercise proper nutrition.
Tyson Bradley, owner of Altitude Athletics in Bozeman Montana, has a brilliant approach with his FIRE Method. He runs an athletic facility that utilizes a lot of Olympic Lifting. He uses a lot of light weights for accessory lifts to promote health and compliment the heavy weightlifting.
Travis Stoetzel is a stallion of an athlete, a friend and coach in the Heart of America. He uses a classic WestSide approach and his conditioning and physique resembles Rocky at his finest when he busted up Ivan Drago in that paradise of Russia. Travis uses a lot of variations to get strong & shredded. Check out THIS ARTICLE for 20 of the BEST bodyweight exercises that will boost your strength and physique.
Joe Meglio, coach at The Underground Strength Gym in Edison, NJ, eliminates weak points and improves athletes movement patterns.
John Gaglione, a monster young coach and powerlifter in NY, has a background in strength and his philosophy shows. Board presses for benching, deficit deads for starting position pulling from the floor, and lots of reps fro the low back and triceps. Sounds delicious.
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