Being stuck at home doesn’t mean that your fitness has to suffer. In fact, it is the perfect time to focus on fixing weaknesses and inefficiencies. Oftentimes, when we are in the gym, we only focus on the big lifts – like the squat, deadlift, clean, and snatch – and tend to miss building strength in the individual muscle groups that are required to be efficient in these lifts. Now that you have some time away from the gym (and for many of you, a barbell), try implementing these accessory exercises into your weekly workout routine. Once you are able get back into the gym and get your hands on a barbell, you’ll be able to see major improvements in your lifts.
One of the biggest areas of weakness for many CrossFitters is the inability to activate and engage their glutes when performing the basic power movements. If an athlete has weak glutes, it can be very difficult for them to lift to their potential. Here’s how to perform the exercise correctly:
- Lie on the floor with knees bent. Your back should be flat on the ground.
- Bring your heels as close to your butt as you can while maintaining a tight core. Keep your arms by your sides.
- Push up as high as you can with your hips, flexing your glutes and driving through your heels. At the top position your back should be flat (not arched).
- Hold for 3 seconds at the top, keeping your glutes flexed, and then come back down. Repeat the exercise 12-15 times.
One Arm Dumbbell Row
This exercise involves horizontal pulling, which is a common movement pattern in CrossFit. It teaches an athlete how to safely and efficiently activate and strengthen their rhomboid muscles, which are part of the upper back, and their trap muscles. Complete the exercise like this:
- Start with one arm and the same knee on a bench supporting your weight, with the other foot on the floor.
- Hold a dumbbell in the non-supported arm and let it hang down to the floor.
- Shift your weight toward your chest, which will allow your upper back muscles to take the force of the rowing action instead of your lower body.
- As you pull the dumbbell up by your side, retract your shoulder so that it pinches against the opposite shoulder blade and finish the movement with your elbow up behind you. Then slowly lower the dumbbell back down to the hanging position. Complete 10-12 reps per arm.
Bulgarian Dumbbell Split Squat
This is a great exercise to develop flexibility and strength in the quads and hip flexors without putting added pressure to the lower back. By putting your rear foot on a bench, you will get a better hip flexor and quad stretch. Also, using dumbbells will create a lower sense of gravity which will improve stability. Perform the exercise using the following steps:
- Start by standing in front of the bench with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand.
- Take a slight step forward with one foot, keeping a slight bend in the knee, and place the other foot on top of the bench behind you.
- As you lower your back knee toward the floor, keep your torso upright (don’t tilt forward) and your eyes looking straight ahead. Use your front foot to maintain your balance and keep your core engaged throughout the duration of the movement.
- To return to the starting position, slowly drive through your front heel and straighten your front leg. Perform 8-12 reps on each leg.