DON’T READ THIS ARTICLE! I repeat… Do NOT read this article. Unless you want to get really freaking strong that is.
Josh Bryant of JoshStrength.com works with elite-level powerlifters, figure competitors, Olympic athletes, NCAA champsions and much more. And he is not only a world-class Coach, but an amazing lifter himself boasting a 620 lb RAW bench, and an 810 lb RAW deadlift. Yowza! I had the pleasure of listening to him speak about accessory work for the raw powerlifter at the EliteFTS Learn to Train Seminar a couple of weekends ago, and I learned a ton! As a raw lifter myself (no squat suit, bench shirt, etc.) there are certain exercises that are more beneficial for me as opposed to someone who lifts in gear… and Josh covered over a dozen of them! Check them out below!
Strong, lean, conditioned, get results. Yeah, I’d keep reading too if I were you!
Raw Powerlifting Accessory Work
1. Walkouts – There are overload benefits to this exercise. Walk the weight out and hold it for a 10 count. This exercise has huge psychological benefits because when you go to walk out the weight you’ll be using it feel “light” compared to this weight. Go about 10% over what you hope to squat.
2. Olympic (close stance) pause squats – These can also be used as an accessory movement for DL.
3. Dead squats/Anderson squats – Eliminates the stretch-shortening cycle. Do these for singles only. Look more at rest periods and sets. Builds power right above parallel. Builds more neuromuscular efficiency. Good for building starting strength. Can use bands and chains (only 10-25% of bar weight in bands and chains).
4. Dip belt squats – Great for physique enhancement. Also great as they un-load the spine. Should be done for higher reps. Also great for de-loading.
5. Squats against band or chains – Bands speed up the eccentric portion of the movement and they build explosive power. However, dependency on bands eliminates bottom end power. Chains bridge the gap between bands and straight weight.
6. Reverse band Squats – Huge psychological benefits to these as you are handling more weight than you would normally be able to. There are also overload benefits. These should be done for singles if powerlifting. You can use more reps for physique benefits. You also get accommodated resistance benefits.
1. Dead bench press/bench press from a dead stop – Builds starting strength. There is no stretch shortening cycle. Should be done with singles only. Like the dead squats, look at rest periods and number of sets. Helps build acceleration. Short limbed lifters can do much more.
2. Rack lockout overloads – Great for overloads. Use a very short range of motion. Stick with the 1-3 rep range, less transfer of training.
3. Wide grip paused bench press – Stay in the 6-10 rep range, and pause one second. Go ~1.5 inches wider than normal. Long-limbed thinner lifters be cautious.
4. Cambered bar bench press –Use boards to create a slight deficit, but only an inch maximum. You don’t want to be in too much of a deficit. Use paused reps, work in a 6 rep range. If you have long arms, avoid this movement.
5. Deep DB bench press – This movement is a little more joint/shoulder friendly bc you’re not in a fixed range of motion. Builds starting strength. Use a 6-10 rep range and pause at the bottom. These are safer than using a barbell, but there is not as much of a benefit.
6. Dips – Great transfer to overhead press. Builds strength through entire range of motion. Becomes more difficult the stronger you get because of the set up. Been used often by really great benchers.
7. Bottom end drives – Builds power out of the bottom. Lockout last rep. Use a 5-6 rep range. Favorite of Bill Kazmaier aka Kaz.
8. Reverse bands/accommodated resistance – Great for overload and complements strength curve. Bands speed up the eccentric portion of the movement. Chains bridge the gap between bands and straight weight. These are a great way to build lockout strength with full range of motion and transitions.
9. Board Presses – These can benefit the raw lifter. Make sure you vary rep ranges. Can be used to attack sticking points, great for overloads, accommodated resistance can be used.
1. Lightning deadlifts – Adds eccentric overload. (40-60% bar weight, 10-25% chains weight). Doubles for 4-6 sets. Builds speed in speed-less lifters. Eliminates sticking points. Great close to meet time. CAUTION: MUST HAVE VERY COMPETENT TRAINING PARTNERS!
2. Deficit deadlifts – Use a 1-4 inch range for the deficit. Not a good choice for those of great girth or those who lack mobility (people who have a hard time getting down to the bar). Extreme deficits don’t transfer as it drastically changes your set-up.
3. Box pulls – plates rest on box. Similar to rack pulls or pin pulls, but better because the bar isn’t resting on the pins so it doesn’t bend.
There you have it! 18 accessory movements that will help raw lifters get as strong as possible! A couple of things to remember: this fancy stuff is extremely cool and will get you very strong, but you MUST master the basics first. For beginners and low level intermediates, variety is not nearly as important as PRACTICE, remember? Also, this re-cap is no substitute for hearing Josh speak live and explain all of the exercises. So if you missed this past Learn to Train Seminar, don’t miss the next one! =)