Accessory lifts can make or break any training session. Often overlooked and under appreciated, some accessory lifts really improve your chances to accomplish personal bests or make the workout better. They push your limits and act as a nice finisher to end off the session.
There are 5 in particular I have learned to love over the years and see myself incorporating more and more into my programming.
Now this video is a little long but I LOVE THIS DUDE'S ENERGY!
The nordic curl is a hamstring exercise that can real be preformed anywhere and with minimal equipment. The best thing? It is a body weight exercise for the most part (unless you're a freak of nature as these people in the video are.)
To get to the level of going all the way down, maintaining a neutral body from the the knees upward, and coming back up to the top without using your hands is amazing. As you begin on bulletproofing your hamstrings, you can regress and progress the lift many different ways. You can have somebody help you, they can hold your legs down or assist your concentric and eccentric movement, you can use a band, a box, matts, hands, stability ball, etc. The options are limitless.
On-top of building some monster hamstrings, the nordic curl forces you to engage your full body, lock in your hips and control your breathing. Some of the key cues needed for compound lifts such as deadlifts, squats, bench, overhead press and others.
Next time, instead of using the leg curl machine, set up a bar or ask your gym buddy to spot you and rep out 3 sets of 10. The next day you'll hamstrings will be thanking you or maybe cursing your name - either way you'll be feeling it.
2. REVERSE NORDIC CURLS
HA! Tricked you with another type of Nordic Curl: The Reverse Nordic Curl! (plus, we get to see Knees-Over-Toes guy crush another video)
The reverse nordic curl took a bit of getting used to for me personally. If you'd asked me 2 years ago if I'd use this exercise I would have said hell no! But as I developed in my understanding of the body and how we can all properly do movements that seem "extreme", I saw the light.
Similar to the nordic curls, the reverse nordic curl is a good alternative to doing leg extensions and forces you to engage the full body while preforming the exercise. It has a plethora of regressions and progressions as well.
I should add, the first 2 exercises on this list are also great for knee and joint health. If at first these exercises bother your joints, then start with the regressions and build up to the finished product. By trying to preform these exercises, you are bringing the joint into full range (for the knee, the ability for the hamstring to touch the calf) and applying tension at key moments in that motion to build joint competency, stability, mobility, confidence, and security.
Now deadbugs aren't all that hard of an exercise and aren't gonna win any awards for core burner of the year but it's a fantastic activation exercise and aids in understanding of maintaining core tension and linear stability through out a lift.
Building an understanding through the mind-body connection is vital for every lift. If you're struggling to hit PB's, finding you're fatiguing quickly, or don't feel your abs with certain ab exercises, start here! This one will be a game changer.
The fun thing about the deadbug as well is that there are tons of variations to make it more difficult if you'd like to make it more of an ab buster. To name a couple, there are:
Wall Push Deadbug
Just check out THIS VIDEO for more variations if you'd like.
4. FACE PULLS
This is the best video I could find to demonstrate the variation of face pull I enjoy programming the most. It is the low-to-high banded face pull. To take it one step further, I enjoy attaching that band to a cable machine and adding weight to make the tension more constant through the lift.
Face pulls have been a staple for awhile. They are great for shoulder care, emphasize rotator cuff strength and help engage the posterior side of the shoulders. This is important for stability, mobility, and overhead pressing. Including this exercise can make your delt game strong and healthy.
Throwing this one either at the beginning or end of the workout to either help with engagement or make sure that those rear delts get some loving. If you have tendency to roll the shoulders or finding that you're not get full ROM overhead, program these into the beginning of the session.
5. INVERTED ROWS
Here I go again using your whole body to target one specific muscle group. The inverted rows are amazing. There ability to force stabilization through the body and then create a mind-body connection within the back in undervalued.
The main targeted muscle group for the inverted row is the back - specifically the latissimus dorsi. As a community of active gym goers, we are atrocious at engaging the back. The reason is pretty vain as well. It's because we can't see it. We focus a lot on the anterior areas of our body because they are the easiest to view. Posterior areas get neglected easily.
We should emphasis the posterior chain way more then we currently are. Here is a good place to start. The lats (better referred as) is the broadest muscle of the back and largest in the upper body. It spans from your arms are the way to you hips and can handle a crap ton of weight. Use this exercises to tap into that goldmine of gainz and greatness.
If done properly, the inverted row will isolate the back and teach you how to engage your body while using the lats.
There are 100's of other accessory lifts that aid in specific areas of the body. These are just a few that get neglected a lot and should be utilized more.
For more tips, tricks, and suggestions, be on the look out for content coming out weekly.
Until next time gym warriors,