5 Crazy Accessory Exercises

Including accessory exercises in your workout and programming is beneficial for a variety of reasons. It’s important to understand why you need certain accessory exercises and which ones to use to reach your individual goals. 


When determining the best accessories for athletes, you have to look at sports through a large lens. Meaning that you have to break down the characteristics that an athlete needs to have in order to perform in their specific sport. 


In all reality, most sports have similar characteristics. Sure, there will be slight differences among the focus for each sport, but there are a lot of ways that training can carry over. 


Let’s take a look at what accessory exercises are, five accessory exercises to incorporate into your workouts, and why they are going to help you become a BEAST! 

Table of Contents


What Are Accessory Exercises?

1. Dane’s Fast Abs

2. Nordic Hamstring Pull

3. Sled Pull and Push

4. Copenhagen Plank

5. Reverse Hyper

Why You Need Accessories in Your Training

Summarizing Accessory Workouts

What Are Accessory Exercises?

When people think of accessory exercises, they initially think in the context of bodybuilding to hit muscle groups that are maybe underdeveloped or that are targeted through mainly isolation movements. Although this is true to some degree, there is more to it once you look outside the confines of bodybuilding. 


At their core, accessory exercises are supplementary workouts used to address weak points in competition lifts or focus on a very specific characteristic needed for a sport. 


Accessory workouts should be catered to the individual needs of each person, based on goals to improve their strength and performance. 


Some instances in which someone might want to include accessory exercises would be to improve dynamic truck control, correct muscle imbalances, train muscular endurance, or focus on other sport-specific adaptations.

Accessory Exercises in Sports

An example we can use to see how accessory workouts can be used to improve focused actions in sports is swimming. Swimmers need to be explosive from a dead start off the blocks, transfer energy through momentum during turns, maintain efficient posture in the water throughout the race, and obviously have the muscular endurance to go a certain distance. 


You can program a number of accessories for each aspect of a sport, throughout a week of training, to develop the desired performance over time. So what accessories would we program for a swimmer that wants to improve on all the things we listed above? Let’s take a look.

Improving Dynamic Truck Control

One of our favorite pieces of equipment to use for improving dynamic trunk control is the hydro-weight. Using the hydro-weight can also help with balance and coordination in positions that are used throughout sports. 


For swimming, you can use the hydro-weight and perform single-leg good mornings into a hip lock. 


By balancing the good morning movement on a single leg with the addition of fluid load from the hydro-weight, you are focused to brace your core to stay stable as you bring the knee forward into the hip lock.

Single-leg Explosiveness 

To help swimmers get off the blocks from a starting position, you need to find another leg accessory exercise that targets explosiveness. 


In this case, an accessory you can utilize is the jump lunge to a box. By starting in a split lunge position, you can focus on exploding through the leading foot with balance from the back foot. 

Muscular Endurance 

Swimmers need muscular endurance for the upper body, lower body, and core throughout a race. Since we have already touched on the core and lower body, let’s look at an upper body accessory for muscular endurance. 


An upper body accessory swimmers can use to build back strength is the weighted sled pull with a rope. 


By attaching a battle rope to a weighted sled, you can pull large loads over a distance of 20 to 30 yards for 4 to 5 sets to build endurance and pulling power in the back. 

Although we’ve covered some accessories for a specific example in sports, many accessories can carry over across all training. Now let’s get into our 5 crazy accessories that you need to be including in your training.

#1 - Dane’s Fast Abs

Bringing it back to the topic of dynamic trunk control, there’s no shortage of accessory exercises you can use. One that we include as a staple in programming is Dane’s fast abs. 


One of the best things about working the core, or the trunk, is that you will learn how to absorb force. Dane’s fast abs is an easy accessory that can be done on a bench or on the floor. 


With this variation, we will be starting in a v-up position and the load will be a hydro-weight. If you don’t have access to a hydro-weight, you can use a 10-25lbs weight plate or medicine ball. 

Once you get into the v-up starting position, you will extend the weight above you. 


To do the movement, pull the weight toward you rapidly while keeping your core tight. You don’t want to be falling backward or shooting your feet up to the ceiling. Stay seated on your glutes and maintain the v-up position as you repeat the movement for 7 reps. 

After completing your vertical reps, you will perform rotational reps. You need to cross the weight over your body and then rapidly pull the weight back toward your chest while keeping that strong v-up position. Continue to switch sides after each rep for another 7 reps per side. 

#2 - Nordic Hamstring Pull

The next crazy accessory that you need to be doing is the nordic hamstring pull. This is a leg accessory exercise that is going to target your hamstrings, lower back, and overall posterior chain. 


This is one of the more difficult accessory exercises in this list. If you do not have a nordic curl pad that keeps your feet stationary, you can have someone hold you down at the ankles or have weight on your feet to keep them from rising.

Nordic hamstring pulls will help with the eccentric loading of your hamstrings and help athletes that need to perform rapid changes in direction for their sport. It is especially helpful for tennis players, football players, basketball players, and anyone that moves often moves laterally. 


As you begin incorporating this leg accessory into your workouts, start with a slow eccentric. If you need help with the contraction portion of the movement, put your hands out for a small push off the floor or utilize a band from behind. 

Beginners will often fatigue quickly and start breaking at the hips to help them get back to the starting position. One cue to hammer as you fatigue is to keep the hips extended. 


The nordic curl is great for developing speed in athletes and also improving posture for weightlifters that need help with extension through the hips. 

#3 - Sled Pull and Push

We talked about using the sled as an upper body accessory earlier in the article. Now we are going to switch it up and talk about using sled pulls and pushes as a leg accessory. 


After spending some time with Ben Patrick, better known as Knees Over Toes Guy, we found that the sled pull and push combination is a great accessory for reducing knee pain.

Of course you may still need to do some mobility and eccentric work for knee pain, sled work will pump those quads up and improve collagenous hypertrophy. 


When using a sled, you don’t need a ton of weight. You can have 225 or 275 pounds loaded onto the sled and do 8 to 10 30-yard lengths alternating pulling and pushing the sled.

In addition to being an accessory for a great pump in the quads, it is one of our favorite preventative measures to maintain knee health. 

#4 - Copenhagen Plank 

Our second-to-last accessory is another option for athletes that are performing lateral movements, need help cutting directions, or just want to build overall strength in their adductors. 


The Copenhagen plank is a great accessory for improving dynamic control while strengthening the adductors. Let’s walk through the basic form of the movement before we talk about variations. 


To start, you will need a flat bench or some kind of elevated surface just below knee-height. You will start on one side of your body with your forearm on the ground for support. 


Raise your outer leg on top of the bench and the inner leg will press up against the bottom. You will hold this position for 30-60 seconds depending on what you’re able to do. 

To make the Copenhagen plank more challenging, you can drop the hips down and bring the back up to the starting position while keeping the inner leg still pressed up against the bottom of the bench. 

Another variation is to get into a hip lock position with your inner leg while keeping your outer leg on top of the bench. 

A good rep range for this variation is to repeat the hip lock for 9 reps through 3 to 4 sets. 

#5 - Reverse Hyper

Our final accessory that you need to be doing for your legs and lower back is the reverse hyper. This is a great accessory exercise for people that have lower back issues or want to strengthen strength in their posterior chain. 

Not only are reverse hypers great for overall strength and power production, using them at high rep ranges is great for improving the endurance in the lower back for athletes like field hockey players. 


You want to think about keeping the knees long, hips extended, and push through your belly button to get a big lower back pump.

When we mean high rep ranges, we mean 3 sets of 17 or even 3 sets of 30 to build that muscular endurance in the erectors and hamstrings. Although, we know not everyone has access to a reverse hyper machine. 


As a substitute, you can do good mornings with a resistance band for sets of 50 or even a loaded bar on a glute ham. These variations will help simulate a reverse hyper machine so that you can keep your hips extended and arch the back completely at the top of the movement. 

accessory exercises

Why You Need Accessories in Your Training

Incorporating accessory exercises into workouts is an essential part of developing throughout your fitness journey regardless of if you are an athlete, casual lifter, or working out to rehab an injury . 


Athletes need accessory movements to help them sport-specific actions. Think about how a basketball player needs to execute a variety of movements in a short amount of time. They might need to complete a lateral movement, jump, or full sprint all within a matter of seconds. 


By including accessory exercises catered to each aspect of the sport at least once per week, you can improve long term performance. 


Along with actual performance, using accessories can help prevent and rehab injuries. If we place muscle imbalances in the same category as rehab, then isolation accessories are perfect for strengthening a muscular system that is underperforming. 


Now that you understand WHY you need accessories as part of your program, it’s time to explore what you need specifically. We just released the Peak Strength app for customized programming that adapts to the equipment you have available and what you’re trying to achieve in the gym. Sign up and get 7-free days of custom programming to see what accessories you need to be doing. 

Summarizing Accessory Workouts 

Accessory exercises are the supplemental movements you need to do in order to improve the performance of sport-specific actions. 


Often overlooked by athletes, coaches need to identify each problem an athlete has from a variety of factors. This could be age, genetics, the sport they play, any previous injuries, or anything that might affect the way someone performs. 


The role of accessory exercises in training is to alleviate the problems that an athlete faces. Hopefully this guide gave you a better understanding of what accessories are, examples of using accessories for certain issues, and why they should be used every day of training. 


If you still need help coming up with ideas of accessory exercises, head over to https://www.peakstrength.app/ and sign up to gain access to personalized accessory work recommendations. 

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Yo, It's Dane

Welcome to the Garage Strength Blog, where it is my goal to provide you with the experience and knowledge I've gained in the strength and conditioning world over many years of learning from both successes and failures. I train elite-level athletes in a multitude of sports from the high school to professional levels, already producing 5 Olympics and 30+ National Champions. If you want to be the next champion I train, check out my strength programs below!

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