Movement Basics: Accessory? or Integral?

This past week was a great return to lifting for those of us at Outlaw! We got back into lifting weights, we had our ‘normal’ sessions back, and we also got to do a few new things. We are starting everyone on a ramp back up to performance. GPP, General Physical Preparedness is an important bridge from not lifting for a while, back to lifting. 

These workouts, as many of you found out, kind of suck. We do conditioning intermixed with lifting movements, we take it slow, we grind it out, and we learn how to move all along the way. One of the biggest questions of the recent GPP week was “When do we get to actually lift again?” 

I want to take a second and address this question. What does actually lifting mean? Heavy squats, cleans, perhaps a sick bench sesh’ bro?  To me, actually lifting is understanding the small points of each lift so that you can maximize your technique and physical abilities all at once. Furthermore, actually lifting is only as useful as it creates injury resilience and enhances performance for sport.

The first step in actually lifting is this blog, movement basics. From here we can understand movement, apply it, acquire the skill, and eventually do it better. This is the cognitive, learning part of GPP. Not only are we incrementally building physical abilities back up to more intense training, we are learning how to do that intense training better.

Part of training better is paying attention to the accessory, progressive, and seemingly small exercises. You know those ones at the end of the workout, that you just need to get through. Hey, I don’t like doing the lunge matrix either, but I understand that it has relevance and value. 

We, as strength coaches, put accessory movements late in the workout, because yes, they are less important than the big compound lifts, but they serve an important purpose. We wouldn’t just put stuff in a workout to ‘make it hard.’ Each movement has a specific area of emphasis and proposed benefit. GPP is full of these exercises in order to build back up to a maximal effort. 

For instance, we are doing a circuit day on Tuesdays which is composed entirely of all accessory-type movements. The athlete gets 60 seconds to do as many reps of the movement as possible. This provides conditioning, practice of the movement, and overall strength behind the movement pattern. 

The accessory exercises within a workout are in the warm-up, between sets, the whole workout, and/or at the end. Each serve a purpose and should be taken as seriously as the main lift. In turn these more specific building blocks teach us, the strength coaches, about your movement so we can identify a strength or weakness to better prepare you for performance. 

Many of the times it is within these accessory movements that we learn about actually lifting. Change or identification of a problem most often happens when practicing these accessory movements, and that sets you up for success when we move forward to bigger lifts and more complex movements. Hence actively working on these in GPP. 

Ask yourself this question then, are accessory movements truly just an accessory, or are they an integral part of a complete training program? I would argue the latter. These exercises, if taken to heart, can provide the difference in making abundant progress, or continually facing minor injuries or faults in your technique. Easy decision for me. 

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”

  • John Wooden 

Learning about the small parts of each lift, and athletic performance through ‘accessory’ movements is another movement basic that will lead to better performance.

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