Accessories for the Win!
By: Sean Wells
At Oregon CrossFit, we use a Conjugate approach to training. The Conjugate system allows provides flexibility in addressing specific weaknesses. The training outline can be found in our organization of training blog. One of the big reasons we train this way is because we can continually see progress in everyone we train.
How many accessories?
In a typical week, Oregon CrossFit General Population members will be exposed to 6-12 accessory movements. These accessories help correct a lot of the issues that we see. Gymnastics, olympic lifting are the two with the biggest issues. These accessory movements are utilized throughout the class. The banded warm up accessories we complete help build stronger ligaments and tendons. Second, during the strength portion we will add accessories. Finally, during days where we do untimed workouts as group we target specific weaknesses using these accessories.
Analyzing what we see as coaches
Unilateral movements vs bi-lateral movements. Completing movements that can be categorized as “simple” allows the coaching staff and the athlete to identify weaknesses. So these unilateral movements help us identify the weak areas and start correcting them. For example, here are some unilateral movements we use frequently: Bulgarian split squats, single leg deadlift, single arm Russian swings, weighted step ups, alternating presses, single arm barbell rows, db rollback extensions, db tate presses, among hundreds of others. All of these exercises allow a coach and an athlete to see if there is a bi-lateral deficit. (A big discrepancy from one side to the other side of the body).
Fix the foundation
These “simple” accessories allow us after identifying the weak links (low hanging fruit) to correct the issue as fast as possible. A lot of times people want the “sexy” movements. However, without first identifying the weaknesses and jumping to “sexy movements” can lead to injury. For example, a lot of people want strict pull ups. But as coaches we see they struggle. We coaches can identify and start working to correct this weakness with accessories. The first thing to remember is we need to keep everyone healthy! Second, build a solid foundation of movement. Finally, start challenging yourself with the more difficult movements.
Time Under Tension
Time under tension increases using accessories, which in-turn leads to hypertrophy in targeted areas. At OC we utilize a ton of hamstring, glute, low back work, specifically in unilateral exercises. These unilateral exercises builds muscles in these specific areas.(Ask me about the time the “Glute Guy” Bret Conteras came to OC). The work improves our compound movements. At the same time builds the muscles people typically want built – glutes, triceps, hamstrings. When a person lets us know they want to look “toned” – the best way of achieving that look is by hitting the accessories hard. Which in-turn makes the person strong and more resilient to injury.
The accessory work coupled with intelligent programming allows athletes to continue to progress. Our clients have very little issues with injuries. They are healthy enough to pursue outdoor activities that Bend has to offer (Ski, Bike, Run, outdoor activities, etc). They look better and feel better!