I want to talk about a part of the strength world that isn't going to wow anyone but is necessary to maintain a solid strength foundation and that thing is accessory work. Doing so is going to help you in stability, aid in mobility and injury prevention, and will keep you in the strength world as a participant insead of a washed-out bystander.
There is an outdated belief that all you need to do is
complete your big movements and add more weight next time you do it. Some of
those people even attempt to criticize those who don't adhere to that outdated
belief. Don't be that person. If there's one thing that I notice outside of
someone's amazing feat is someone being condescending with their advice. That
isn't a good look and the strength community will avoid it.
So what is the goal of Accessory work? In any lift, you have your prime movers and secondary muscles that aid in the stability of the prime movers. Accessory work is going to either isolate that prime mover to strengthen and/or activate the secondary muscles around that prime mover. Think of it this way. A big strong guy can push a truck and probably get it moving, but if he had 4 to 5 of his smaller friends helping, the action is much more fluent. A prime mover is the same way. The more it can get help, the better.
How do you choose accessory exercises? Primarily, it will be based off of the weak part of your movements. They can also be used to correct form along with working partial movements to work through sticking points. For example, front squats can help strengthen your quadriceps without having to add a large amount of weight on the bar. Holding a stick or empty barbell overhead while squatting can assist in finding breaks in your squat form. A rack pull can assist in the top end of a deadlift without having to go through the entire movement. These are just a few examples of a long list of accessories that can improve your primary movements. Again, the choice should be based on weaknesses. You may have to put your ego on the shelf to identify those weaknesses and that's completely okay.
In conclusion, get that extra work and show it off! Know that the accessory work is going to help you in the long run. If someone tells you that accessory work isn't necessary, I urge you to look at their injury history before admiring their numbers. The strength world has found safer and more effective ways to get those big numbers without sacrificing your long-term health. Solid accessory work is one of those ways.
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