This is a follow-up to articles I have written earlier. The more competitive you get and the stronger you get the more it is necessary to work on accessory movements. In my opinion, beginner athletes do not need to work on accessory movements as much as advanced athletes. However, they should still know what they can do to build strength in areas where they are lacking in order to prevent injuries. Compound movements are great but imbalances cause way too many non-impact athletic injuries. Choosing which accessory movements to use, however, cannot be general. They must be specific to the athlete.
So what accessory movements should you be doing? Well we have to look at your specific weaknesses. Too often I’ll see athletes all doing the same accessory movements. All athletes have different sticking points. Why should someone focus on hip strength when it’s the glutes that are weak on his or her deadlift? Am I saying don’t train your hips? Absolutely not. I am saying that you have to train where you are weak. Injuries are caused because one muscle group overrides the weaker ones. I love Mobility WOD and I have nothing against ROMWOD but when you let other people tell you where to mobilize you will neglect the areas where you need attention. I watch Mobility WOD every day but I use Kelly’s knowledge to make my athletes better by taking his stuff to the bank only when I see an athlete with those specific issues. General accessory movements are fine but you are missing out on true athletic potential.
How do I know which specific areas I need to work on? Study a video (I know most of you video your lifts) and look at where you are getting stuck or slowing down. If you are squatting and you are stuck at the bottom of your squat you need to work on your hip strength. If you are getting stuck in the middle you need to get your quad and hamstring strength up. And if you are stuck at the top you need to strengthen your glutes. If you tend to lean forward when you squat your upper back is weak. Here is the funny thing: as your hamstrings get stronger, your hips and glutes will then become your weakness and you will have to build them up. It’s a constant battle to keep all your systems working to make you stronger. When it comes to upper body movements, the main problem area I tend to see is weak triceps. Your triceps are your “lock out” muscles. I don’t care how strong your shoulders are, if you have weak triceps you will fail at max weights. This applies to the bench press, shoulder press, push press, and any variation of your jerk. If you are a runner the weakest elements tend to be the abdominals and the hip flexors. You can see this at the end of a 5K or middle of a marathon, and see how many runners tend to lose their posture and start to lean forward. This collapse of the torso is detrimental to proper breathing mechanics. Always find your sticking point and work from there. You are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain.
Accessory movements are vital if you want to become a stronger athlete but that’s not all. These movements will also prevent you from getting injured. Light weight high repetition movements will strengthen the ligaments and tendons. When following a program make sure the accessory movements are dedicated to YOUR weaknesses and not for someone else. Strengthen your weakest link and watch your progress skyrocket!