Top 5 Accessory Lifts by Brandon Tunquist

Over the years of competitive power lifting I have always been thinking of ways to fix my weak points on each lift to make the lift as a whole much stronger. I have had plenty of stupid ideas that didn’t work, and I have some that have worked like miracles. I always try to share these with people because these weaknesses that I have had plenty of other lifters also have. None of these are re-inventing the wheel by any means, but I also think none of these are commonly performed movements that you see every day in the gym.

 

  1. Dead Squat with Safety Squat Bar against doubled mini Bands – This is by far my favorite assistance exercise for my squat anddeadlift. For my squat I use it to increase my power out of thehole, and for thedeadlift I use it to get more leg drive off of the floor while keeping my chest up. I always set the pin 1-2 inches ABOVE Parallel. Reason being is because when I squat in knee wraps my sticking point is always a 2-3 inches above parallel once the wraps stop helping me, so whenever working through a sticking point you need to start slightly BELOW the sticking point to properly work through it. The second reason for starting above parallel is because when you start adeadlift off of the floor your hips will never be at parallel. I use the safety squat bar because it strengthens your upper back so much and forces you to keep good positioning throughout the lift and it prepares my upper back to stand up with heavier weights. This lift should ONLY be done for singles. The main point of it is to take away of the momentum from coming down on a squat and getting the reversal power out of the bottom. This forces you to squat the weight up from a complete dead stop.I personally do 6-8 singles with 60 seconds rest, wearing only a belt. I also always use the monster mini bands (the thicker ones).
  2. Floor GHR’s Superset with Lying leg curls – I kind of came up with this on my own when thinking of a way to get more volume in and make this as hard as possible. Basically you want to put a pad underneath your knees on the floor, and have a partner stand on the back of your feet to hold them down. Do the negative portion of a glute-ham raise, but go down as slowly and as controlled as possible, and LIGHTLY push yourself up off the ground so you have to still use your hamstrings to get back to the starting position. If you do them correctly for the first time 5 reps should be pretty tough, but over time aim to get 10 reps. I do these right next to the leg curl machine so as soon as I am done I do a set of 10 heavy leg curls. I do them as fast as possible. Going from a slow moving GHR movement to a very fast and heavy leg curl makes this unbelievably hard. I do 3-4 total sets and rest about 2 minutes in between. Once I mastered these for myself I eventually put a light mini band around my neck attached to a rack in front of me to pull me forward. I give these the main credit to the huge increase in my deadlift lately. I believe they really help in the mid range portion of the deadlift and getting the bar up and over your knees.
  3. Weighted Planks – These have been a HUGE staple in my core training the past year and a half. I do them every squat day at the end of my workout and sometimes at the end of mydeadlift workouts if needed. The main purpose of doing these is to have a stronger stand up for my squat when pushing my abs against my belt whenunracking the weight,and also keeping my torso upright during a squat anddeadlift. Ever miss a squat ordeadlift because you got your shoulders rounded forward and collapsed at the waist? These fix that problem. I only do 3 sets of 30 seconds with these, but I make sure they are very heavy. I only do 30 seconds because a max squat ordeadlift, or even doing a heavy triple should never take longer than 30 seconds. Now that I have pushed these past the300lb mark I have noticed that I can squat anddeadlift over700lbs and keep picture perfect form the entire movement. Having a very strong core can also save your lower back from plenty of bad injuries you see lifters getting that neglect their core training.Plank
  4. Cambered Bar bench press with light chains – I have only added these in recently, but have noticed them helping my power off of my chest in the bench press which is always a weak point for myself and many other raw benchers. I use a bar that has a 4-5 inch camber right in the middle, and I always use a 1-2 board. Without the board you risk going down TOO far and messing up a shoulder or pec. I also like adding20-30lbs of chains total. I have found that this makes me force myselfto be more explosive off my chest to ensure locking the weight out. If you use a lot of chain weight it kind of defeats the purpose of working the bottom portion of the lift because it will be too light off the bottom and then turns into atricep movement. I recommend doing 3 sets of 5 paused reps after your mainbenching movement for that day.
  1. Heavy banded rack pulls – When I was having lockout issues with mydeadlift and struggling to get my hips through at the very top, I decided to play around with this and found a great way to overload that position as much as possible, and also learned how to grind through the lockout while being able to mentally think about engaging myglutes. The way I set this up is setting the bar just below the knee caps, and doubling orange or purple bands around the bottom of the rack. This gave me roughly130-150lbs ofband tension at the top of the lift. I also used straps and a double overhand grip. Only reason I did this is because I have never had grip issues on mydeadlift and my hands were always spent at this point in the workout after doing countless sets on adeadlift bar. I was able to work up to635lbs for 2 sets of 2 when I pulled722lbs in competition a few weeks later (without a single sticking point). I also highly recommend wearing asinglet and using baby powder with these like you would be when attempting a maxdeadlift, because the pressure you will feel at the top of the lift is no joke with that much band tension, as I have nearly passed out a few times after setting the bar down. I recommend only doing 2-3 working sets with these and only doing 1-2 reps, and doing these AFTER your maindeadlifts for that day.These lifts have helped me tremendously and they may help you. I recommend sticking to the sets and reps I describe and not trying to fix your weak points all at once. Weak points take time to fix and overdoing it for the sake of trying to get more work is often counterproductive.

    Give these a shot if you need help with the mentioned sticking points and I bet you that you will see a big increase in your lifts on meet day.

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Brandon Tunquist is a 21 year old Powerlifter out of Old School Iron in Brookpark, OH. He trains with his girlfriend Mel Zupec who is a 132 pound class lifter with a 900 pound total.
Brandon’s best totals are:
1800 at 200
1685 at 198
His best individual lifts are:
710 squat
385 bench
722 deadlift
Follow Brandon on YouTube or on his Facebook page

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