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Accessory Exercises to Augment Your Big 3 Lifts

Accessory Exercises to Augment Your Big 3 Lifts

If you’ve ever moved a barbell around, you’re going to benefit tremendously from this article! You know the saying, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” The beauty of compound lifts like squats and bench press is that they engage a ton of muscles – a “muscle chain” if you will. But therein also lies the challenge in these moves – they require the simultaneous coordination of a ton of muscle groups. Without specific attention to this musculoskeletal chain, weak points can appear, and compound over time. But if you improve your weak links with specific targeting, you’ll strengthen your entire lift!

Today I’m going to focus on how to maximize your Squat, Bench, and Deadlift, often coined “The Big 3”. These are the meat and potatoes (or tempeh and potatoes to stay vegan friendly) to any workout program dedicated to strength or hypertrophy. When performing these movements closer to your maximum weight, there may be a sticking point during the lift that you can’t get past, for example the lockout at the top of the deadlift. Throughout the rest of this article I’ll show you exactly why you may be failing at a certain point, and how to break through your plateau and crush your next PR attempt!

To increase your lifts, build more muscle, and burn a ton of calories, here are a total of 18 accessory exercises – and how to implement them into your workout plan:

  • 1. Squat Accessories
  • 2. Bench Accessories
  • 3. Deadlift Accessories
  • 4. How to Wield the Power of These Exercises

Squat Accessories

If you have a hard time starting the ascent of your squat, or you get stuck “in the hole”, (at the very bottom of your squat) you most likely have a weakness in your glutes or hamstrings.

Exercises to Improve Your Initial Ascent out of a Squat

Pause Squat


Pin Squat


Glute Kickbacks




Exercises to Work on Locking Out Top of Squat

Front Squats


Leg Press


Forward Lunges


Bench Accessories

Best Exercises to Strengthen Your Front Deltoids and Chest

Shoulder Press