Accessory Work. Is It Necessary?
“Accessory work” seems to be all the rage these days. What is accessory work you may be wondering? It is anything done before or after class to help stimulate more gains. Sounds good right? Of course, we all want more gains! But they key phrase here is “working with intention.”
Should you be doing accessory work?
That depends. What is your goal? Never do accessory work just for the sake of doing it. If you have a SMART goal of 1 strict unassisted pullup by the end of 2018 (awesome!) or improving weak glutes, then you should absolutely be doing accessory work every time you come in the gym. If you do not have a SMART goal and just throw in some random movements after class, it is honestly a waste of time. To realize the gains from accessory work, it needs to be dedicated, regular, and high volume.
How should it be done?
Since this is a post on general accessory work, it is hard to nail down a specific number. Most should aim for the following criteria:
Pick 3 movements related to your goal.
Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps of each.
Think light weight, perfect form, maybe even to a tempo (3 second negatives?)
Perform at least 3 times per week.
Doing 20 GHD situps after class once a week will not do anything for you, but 3x20 three days a week will, especially if you combo that with other core exercises.
What are some examples of accessory work?
Improve hip function (weak glutes)
Hip raises, single leg hip raises, box hip raises, GHD hip extension, KB Swings, pause squats (light weight), clam shells, bird dogs, lunges, tempo box step ups, and Bulgarian squats.
Banded pullups, ring rows, banded lat pulldowns, bent over rows, single arm dumbbell bent over rows and band pull aparts.
Improve core strength
Planks, side planks, weighted planks, GHD situps, Russian twists, pallof press, L-sits, strict toes to bar, and Turkish getups.
Accessory work is often more traditional weightlifting exercises or banded exercises designed to hit a single muscle group. (CrossFit by definition has more compound movements which involve multiple muscle groups.) So the best route is to do CrossFit to hit the big muscles with heavier weight and/or intensity, and then after class do accessory work with light weight to really dial in the gains to the desired area.
As mentioned above, in order to get gains from accessory work, it needs to be done with regularity. My minimum recommendation would be 3 days per week for 2 months.
Last but not least, I would be remiss if I did not mention the importance of proper nutrition. If you put the time in to come to CrossFit and then spend an extra 20 minutes after class doing accessory work, it is extremely important that you be consuming your protein shake and carbohydrates during the accessory work time. There’s nothing worse than putting in all this time to get better and have the results be diminished from a lack of nutrition.