I want to talk about “accessory work.” I actually don’t really like the term “accessory work” – I think it makes the movements we term “accessory” less important than they really are (but for the purpose of this, I will continue using that term). We usually think of accessory work as smaller movements – banded pull aparts, curls, tricep extensions, planks, for example. However, even though these movement seem small and (maybe) inconsequential, they do play an important role in injury prevention and even strength gains.
All of these seemingly “small” exercises help contribute to the big exercises – think, deadlifts, squats, and Oly lifts. And these are the exercises we ultimately want to improve, right? Accessory work may come in the form of isolation exercises (targeting one muscle or muscle group), unilateral movement (using one side of the body), or small movements that you wouldn’t normally see in a WOD.
In order to balance out your body, you need to do this work. This doesn’t mean you need to spend hours doing banded pull aparts, but maybe aim to stay and do the accessory work or extra credit portion 3 times a week after class. When we only spend time doing bilateral work and using our big muscles to move weight, other muscles and muscle groups will become underdeveloped. This can lead to increased joint stress, imbalanced strength, and even injury.
Accessory work is kind of like mobility work – the stuff that comes at the end of the WOD, when you’re exhausted and ready to just walk out the door that you don’t really want to do. But think about that PR you’re chasing, or the injury that you can feel coming on, and then re-think about accessory work and how it can play a role.
If you have questions about some extra stuff you can be doing, schedule a personal training appointment ([email protected])! This can be especially helpful if you are working on a certain skill or having trouble with a certain lift. There are many exercises that can have a BIG impact on your strength and will only take you a few minutes each day.