Sep 7, 2016
Three Types of Lifts
Rich Zawack

No man is an island, for every action there is an opposite reaction, and you can’t be an athlete and focus on one exercise.

There are core lifts, there are supplemental lifts, and there are ancillary lifts.

A strength program needs to incorporate all three types of lifts to achieve balance and athleticism.

The core lifts are the bench, the squat, and the dead lift. These are the major exercises used to develop the prime movers in the human body.

These lifts occur at the two key points in the body where stability is needed. They develop the two areas where the body bends, where flexion and extension take place. They are multi-joint exercises.

Supplemental exercises work directly on those core areas, but only make a partial contribution.

Ancillary lifts work on muscle groups that are supportive, not primary to movement.

Everyone loves the bench press. A big, sculpted chest and triceps are attractive. But if all athletes do is focus on the bench, things will not work out well for them. If they only strengthen the prime movers and ignore the supporting cast, they’re headed toward injury. Minimally they will limit the growth of their bench press.

Athleticism requires balance, neuromuscular development. Great players are athletic.

Ancillary and supplemental exercises are a necessity if you want real growth. The supporting muscle groups have to grow to support the core activity you are trying to develop.

Ancillary support in the delts, lats, and subscapularis are important to a well- developed bench press.

Supplemental activities like tricep extensions add to the development of power needed to press heavy weight or push heavy objects, as in the bench press.

Therefore, for every set of bench presses completed there are three to five additional exercises that need to be done. This ensures balance and proper development. It additionally improves coordination.

The entire body works this way. There is a synergy between body parts that allows people to effectively function.

Athleticism depends on all of the body’s muscles working in concert. The smallest muscle can affect performance.

Every training activity needs to consider the need for balanced development.

Jumping, as an example, requires leg strength but it also requires core strength and upper body power.

The great athlete trains ancillary muscles as hard as he or she trains the prime movers of force because everything is inter-connected.

Athleticism is dependent on synergy. Athleticism is a result of the combined effects of all the musculature. Coordination is a derivative of this development.

If you are training the chest you better be training the back.

I kid my athletes — if you’re walking down the beach you need to look good coming and going.

When you train athletes, think about angles and directions. You never know which way your players will get pulled or pushed.

This is the best way to prevent injury and train young people to become real athletes.

Rich Zawack, BS, MA, CSCS-D, has served as president of Athletic Development Corporation for the last 10 years. Prior to that he was a high school teacher and coach for 36 years at Strongsville (Ohio) High School. He has coached 17 state champions, one NCAA champion, 18 NFL football players, and one NBA basketball player.

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