When Cooking Up Gains, Accessory Work is the Special Sauce

So you leave the Globo gym to get a more serious workout. You immediately go to the nearest CrossFit gym. You forget about all those isolated movements and only start doing compound and complex movements as fast as you can for time. Leaving a pool of sweat on the floor is what you live for now. If the workout is slow and involves looking at yourself in the mirror, is it really a workout? What if I told you doing those isolated movements would make you better at CrossFit, develop stronger muscles, and prevent injury? This is what we call accessory work. It can be the special sauce to your gains.

In CrossFit, we do a lot of bilateral, compound, and complex movements. This means we move more than one joint at a time and use both sides of our body. (Squats, Deadlifts, Strict Press, Olympic Lifts, Pull-Ups, Muscle Ups, Etc.) If we only do bilateral, compound, and complex movements, we will create imbalances in our body. We will rely on our stronger muscle groups to take the driver seat which will develop weaknesses in other areas of our body, put a lot of stress on our joints, and potentially lead to injury. To make weak muscles stronger, start isolating them.

Accessory work is a part of the 9 Degrees program daily. It is in addition to the current strength and metabolic conditioning that we do. Each day of the week will target specific areas and weaknesses. Lets dig a little deeper into what that looks like and the purpose:

Back and Biceps:

  • Develop Lat Strength
  • Develop stability in the flexion phase of the elbow joint
  • Create Unilateral Lat Strength (targeting each side individually using Dumbbells)
  • Develop a solid foundation of pull-up strength. More strict=more kipping.
  • Pull-Ups
  • Muscle Ups
  • Keeping neutral spine in the deadlift
  • Front Rack Position
  • Catching a clean in a stable front rack
  • Rope Climbs
  • Sled Pull
  • Peg Board

Bent Over Barbell Rows- 4 x 5

Biceps Curls- 4 x 8

Single Arm DB Row- 4 x 8

Strict Pull Up – 4 x 8

Chest and Triceps:

  • Develop Tricep strength
  • Develop stability in the extension phase of the elbow joint
  • Create strength in pressing movements (push-press, push jerk, dips)
  • Strict Press or Push-Press
  • Jerk (Push or Split)
  • Dips (including dip portion of a muscle up)
  • Locking out on jerk
  • Push-Ups

Bench Press- 4 x 8

Tricep Push-Down- 4 x 8

Weight Push-Ups- 4 x 8

Skull Crusher- 4 x 8

Glutes and Low Back:

  • Develop Strong Glutes and Lower Back (Duh)
  • Become more powerful and explosive in Olympic Lifts
  • Develop Unilateral hamstring and glute strength.
  • Strong Pull on deadlifts, cleans, and snatches
  • Olympic Lifts
  • Deadlifting
  • Squatting
  • Wall Balls
  • Rowing
  • Running
  • Pistols

Glute Ham Raises- 4 x 8

Bulgarian Split Squats- 4 x 8

Leg Curls with Band- 4 x 8

Good Mornings- 4 x 8

Plank- 5 x 30Seconds

Quads and Hips:

  • Develop Strong Squat
  • Become explosive in Olympic Lifts
  • Develop flexibility and strength in quads and hip flexors
  • Squatting
  • Box Jumps
  • Olympic Lifts
  • Lunging
  • Barbell Hip Bridge- 5 x 8
  • Sled Push- 5 x 50ft.
  • Front Rack KB Pause Squats- 5 x 4
  • Weighted Step Ups 4 x 10


  • Develop foundation for abdominal muscles
  • Endurance for high repetition workouts
  • Create strong midline for lifting
  • Toes to Bar
  • Sit-Ups
  • Maintaining a neutral spine while lifting

GHD Sit-Ups- 4 x 10

Barbell Roll Outs- 4 x 20

V-Ups- 4 x 10

Barbell Roll Outs- 4 x 10


There are many different exercises and variations to do for accessory work. The secret sauce comes with the dedication to consistently do the work every week. I promise, you will start to see some major results.


Now get to work, and start spreading on that special sauce a.k.a accessory work.


Click the link below to check out of the 9 Degrees Program:



Image of Crossfit 9 Degrees Head Coach Zach Holaday

Author: Zach Holaday

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