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Must Add Accessory Movements
Not all movements are created equal. When it comes to accessory movements, this statement is even more certain. If you are a weightlifter or powerlifter, the specific movements of your sport will take a long ways. If you are a football player, soccer player, or any other sport athlete, the bigger movements of weightlifting and powerlifting will give you most of the results that you are looking for.
Lately I have talked a lot about choosing accessory movements. I have watched people get a lot stronger with very little accessory work, but that doesn’t mean that everyone should cut out accessory work. Number one accessory work gets you jacked and looking sexy, so you should do it for this reason alone. However there are several other reasons that I recommend accessory movements. Here are a few of those reasons:
1. To target imbalances and weaknesses- Louie Simmons was the first person to talk about this. At least he was the first person that I heard talking about targeting imbalances and weaknesses with accessory work. Zach Greenwald was the first person to quantify that decision for me. Later this week, we are coming out with our latest book “No Weaknesses”, and we have an awesome test in the book to quantify your own weaknesses with explanations. It should be a good tool for you guys.
2. Stabilize and Strengthen the Spine, Pelvis and other Joints- This is the one that I am targeting today. All athletes to keep their bodies safe and injury free should perform movements and exercises to stabilize the critical areas of the body. The spine is one of those critical areas. A major low back injury can keep people away from the barbell and ruin a lot of other functional activities.
3. To protect against the common threats of an individual sport. If you play football, it’s a great idea to strengthen the neck along with the spine and pelvis. If you play soccer or basketball, performing exercises to protect the knee is a good idea.
There are exercises out there that will help you guys and gals minimize the aches and pains commonly attributed to weight training. There are also exercises out there that will help you perform the movements that you love for years to come. This article is about those very movements
There are some accessory movements that I recommend for everyone. Here are a few of them:
Heavy Carries- there is a lot of variations to heavy carries, but they all serve the purpose of stabilizing the entire spine and pelvis. If you have a safe surface, I recommend performing carries without shoes. This will allow you to strengthen your feet, while stabilizing the core. Strong feet are essential to a healthy kinetic chain.
I prefer a lot of unilateral carries to encourage a symmetrical body, and unilateral carries promote healthy hips. The quadratus lumborum can be a big trouble spot for a lot of athletes. Unilateral carries will help to strengthen this muscle allowing the QL to do its job moving the hips up and down.
Some of my favorite variations of carries are:
• Axle bar overhead carries
• Farmers Walk bilateral and unilateral
• KB Carries overhead, racked position, and to the side
• Yoke carries
• Sandbag carries
• Zercher carries
• Barbell carries both back and front
These are just a few to get you started. Don’t just perform carries mindlessly. They are to be quantified as well. Like any other movement if you want to reap the rewards of carries, volume must go up to trigger adaptation. You can use distance, time, weights, and sets to manipulate volume.
Before we continue, let me tell you a little story. There used to be a test of pure willpower that was tried by many at my gym called the “mile of hell”. I believe that Greg Nuckols invented this evil stroll. It started with a barbell loaded with four 25lb plates per side (245lb), and the test began with the barbell one the victim’s back. It looked like this:
• 400m walk with 245lb on the victim’s back
• 400m walk with 195lb (three 25lb plates per side) in the Front Rack Position
• 400m walk with 145lb carried in the zercher position
• 400m walk with 95lb carried in the overhead position
The goal was to not put the weight down during the entire mile. If you are as twisted as us, give it a try. I warn you know that it is a mile of pure misery.
Belt Squats- After visiting Westside Barbell, I am convinced that a belt squat is a major necessity for a long relationship with the barbell. I was able to talk to two of my friends that are still training at Westside. Both are over 40 like me, and both of them told me that the belt squat machine is the one tool that keeps their backs feeling healthy.
Jason Coker is one of those friends, and he has actually broken his back twice. He has been one of my closest friends since 1998, so I trust him 110%. He told me that he was about to retire from the low back pain that he was experiencing. Then he moved to Westside and started using the belts squat machine. He said that the traction of the belt helped to keep his lumber spine and pelvis performing correctly and without pain. I will take the word of an elite powerlifter over the word of a doctor any day. Elite athletes know their bodies. They can’t be fooled into a placebo effect.
There are about 60 different exercises that one can perform on the belt squat depending on their weakness. We ordered one during our visit to Westside, and I can’t wait to try it out. Don’t worry; I will report the results as they come in.
Reverse Hypers- this is another exercise that promotes a healthy low back. I also noticed that our athletes weren’t strong at this exercise. For whatever reasons the low backs on our athletes were struggling to perform this movement. A weakness means that there is room for improvement.
Hip Thrusts- strong glutes and a healthy pelvis are imperative for continued gains. Bret Contreras is the man when it comes to glutes. Hip thrusts are great to start the workout because they encourage a neutral pelvis. This really gets things firing properly. I like to do a few sets before I squat to get my hips warmed up and ready to go.
Unilateral RDLs- this is another great exercise to promote hip health. If you are a weightlifter or powerlifter, I definitely encourage you to try these. Both sides of the pelvis are designed to move a few degrees apart from the other. Athletes that spend most of their time with bilateral movements like squats and cleans run the risk of built up compression on the SI Joint. Unilateral RDLs are great to promote proper movement while strengthening the joint as well.
Most of you guys that are on my online team already perform a lot of these movements. I don’t prescribe reverse hypers or the belt squat unless I know that my athlete has the equipment. The belt squat and the reverse hyper can be costly, but in my opinion it’s money worth spending. You will probably save money in the long run avoiding physical therapy and chiropractic visits.
We are only hours away from the debut of my new book “No Weaknesses”. This book contains all the tools necessary to quantify weaknesses, formulate a plan to correct those weaknesses, and everything else that goes into a long-term plan. If you want to train for several years to come, this book is your tool kit: muscular imbalance test, explanations of how to correct, recovery tools, joint health, overcoming common aches and pains, and much more.
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