First thing: BIG CONGRATULATIONS to coach Ryan Wood and student athlete Carson Eschmann who both competed this past weekend in a USAPL powerlifting meet. It was Ryan’s first meet with gear (bench shirt and squat suit) and Carson’s first meet ever. Both had PR’s on all their lifts and we’re SUPER proud of them both as they trained hard for this meet. Steve gave a shout out to Carson on the SAPT strength site (and a picture of what happens when you deadlift a lot…) Check it out here!
Second thing: Juliet Gotthardt is a fellow Hokie, heavy-things-picker-upper, healthy-food-enthusiast and awesome woman. We went to Tech together but never hung out, so sad! (in our defense, VT is a biiiig school.) She contacted me a while back about doing a post exchange and we finally did it! She’s got her own blog at Hey Joob!, go on, give it a gander. Anyway, without further ado, here’s Juliet with a couple of her favorite exercises. (pictures by me)
The more I learn about strength training, the more I become a believer in the “Pareto Principle” and the idea that less is more. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I really only focus on one movement per training session (deadlifts, bench, squat, and standing overhead press) and everything after that is accessory. In a way, accessory exercises are much like fashion accessories!
They aren’t necessary, per se, but they complete the picture.
(They also have a tendency to go in and out of fashion, but that is a story for another time.)
You would be pretty hard pressed, to find an individual without some kind of imbalance or weak points or a lack of mobility or yaddayaddayadda. We are all train wrecks in one way or another, thanks to hours spent on our derrières. This is where accessory work comes in: you can use it to correct these problems.
Just like with fashion accessories, some things give you more “bang for your buck”. Rings are pretty cool. However, one ring won’t be able to bedazzle that potato sack you bought (and called a dress). If you wear too many, they become gaudy and detract from the bigger picture instead of adding to it.
Some accessory movements will provide more value than others to both your physique and athletic performance. Additionally, if you hammer your body by overloading on the accessories, it can actually detract from strength and cause more harm than good. Which movements you choose to incorporate in your programming are, truthfully, dependent on where your weaknesses lie and where you are in your strength-training career.
While, I would definitely say your safest bet is hiring a coach (Shameless plug: SAPT!) to assess and guide you, here are two few of my favorites:
I have been geeking out to some hip thrusts lately. These bad boys, in all their glorious variations, are a wonderful exercise for training the posterior chain (AKA the back side). Here, Bret Contreras, inventor of the thrust, explains beautifully how to execute the movement properly:
Depending on where you are in your training, you can progress them in different fashions:
• Body weight with only a single foot planted on the floor and the other knee up to your chest
• Body weight with a single elevated (this increases the range of motion and, thus, requires more effort)
• Body weight with two feet on the floor
• Body weight with your feet elevated.
• Two feet on the floor, weight loaded on the hips.
I can really only speak from personal experience, but I like them for a lot of reasons.
For starters, I have no butt. None. Okay, I have a little bump. This has been one of the tools in my toolbox for attaining my goal of building luscious buttocks. It’s how I plan on snagging men and taking over the world.
I’m also pretty darn obsessed with deadlifts. I’d like to be able to pull a double body weight deadlift one day. That means I need to get strong like WOAH. While the bulk of that strength will come from actually deadlifting, I would venture to say that hip thrusts at least add a little something to the picture.
Rowing is arguably one of my favorite things to do for the upper body. Not only are there, maybe, 1,380,573 variations, but also they do beautiful things. Let’s draw another example. You work in a cubicle (or plush office with lots of windows… darn you) all day long. You spend a good number of hours crunching numbers, writing, and looking at Facebook on the computer 5 days a week.
Fortunately, you have seen the light and realize the importance of strength training. SOOOO you take to the gym and hit the bench press 3x a week. TOTALLY SICK DUDE.
Well. Kind of.
More often than not, this kind of an approach to living leaves us hunched over like Quasimodo. Think about it. You’re hunched over all day leaving your back all stretched out and your chest tight. Then, you go and strengthen your chest muscles so now they’re capable of pulling your shoulders in even better than they were before. No es bueno, amiga.
Rowing is great to strengthen your back muscles so you can maintain some semblance of a human being. And ladies? If that argument doesn’t win you over, try this one: building a bigger upper back makes your waist look smaller and, thus, you look better nekked. Capice?
Rows can be done with barbells…
There are many ways to skin a cat. I mean, build an upper back.
I’ve never skinned a cat, for the record. That doesn’t mean I’ve not wanted to when mine cries at 4 AM over nothing.