50% off Strength programs

3 Accessory Lifts for a Stupidly Big Squat | StupidEasyPaleo.com

3 Accessory Lifts for a Big Squat

3 Accessory Lifts for a Stupidly Big Squat

Steph’s note: Today’s post comes from JVB, strength coach at The Movement Minneapolis and all-around badass when it comes to helping people get strong. You know I love my strength training—that’s me in the photo above hitting a PR back squat of 291 pounds—so when JVB offered to share these excellent assists with you, I jumped at the chance. Be sure to scroll all the way down for a super-special opportunity from JVB!

I won’t lie to you, I really enjoy the squat.

This works out well for me because I compete in powerlifting and testing my max strength in the barbell back squat is required. (The other two lifts tested are the barbell bench press and the deadlift.) Because powerlifting is a sport and as such, training specificity matters, the simple fact remains: to great a really big back squat, you need to do lots and lots of back squatting.

But before you rush off to the bar, let me tell you the full story, which includes accessory movements. In powerlifting, accessory movements are meant to complement the competition lift. Accessory movements for the back squat will hit the same muscles that are worked in the main lift but in a more targeted manner, which is important because you can use accessory lifts to zero in on your body’s weak links.

The below are three of my favorite non-squatting exercises to complement the back squat. Even if you’re not a big squatter, you’ll appreciate the overall strength you’ll gain by adding these lifts into your exercise routine.

Seated Box Jumps

Here’s another thing I’m not going to lie to you about: jump training is a little scary for me. I didn’t include in my training for a very long time until I began reading article after article from Chad Wesley Smith of Juggernaut Training extolling the benefits that jumps can add to your training.

According to Chad, jump variations are clutch for building a big squat because it will teach your body to instantly recruit a lot of muscle fibers and quickly produce force, a good quality to have when driving out of the bottom of a heavy squat.

You can train jumps in various ways, including jump squats and regular box jumps, but one of the ways I got around my fear of scraping my shins on a box was by implementing Seated Box Jumps into the beginning of my workout, after my warm-up, and right before the barbell back squat.

Seated Box Jumps start and land with your feet on the ground, but the important part is they start from a dead stop. To get maximal muscle recruitment from this static position, avoid rocking forward, taking a moment to pause and reset between every rep.

Barbell Bent-Over Row

A strong back plays a key role in a big squat. Beginning with your set up, when you duck your head under and get the bar on your shoulders, squeezing the bar and flexing your upper back muscles gives the bar a cushion to rest on. In other words, strengthening your back is going to make for a more comfortable bar position.

Also, while we often automatically think of squats as a mainly a leg exercise (and for some variations that’s certainly true) the game changes a little when the weight is resting on your shoulders. Improving your back strength and will give you greater control over the lift and that means decreasing your chances of having to bail.

Strengthen your back with the barbell bent over row to get some core work in there as well; your core needs to brace hard in the hinge position to avoid letting your spine round. Along those lines, keep the weight challenging (because this is your back after all, and these muscles are big) but doable, to allow you to keep your back flat.

Share this post

One Response

  1. this was a really helpful post for me!! i just started doing barbell squats and these tip will really help me add some weight. i love the seated box jumps idea! my chiropractor says my hips are always out of place and i can definitely feel it in how i lean to one side during my squats.

Steph Gaudreau

Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau (CISSN, NASM-CPT)!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


Purpose built for strength, fitness, and athleticism. This is a templated, app-based 12-month progressive strength program for women over 40.


Strength Nutrition Unlocked

For athletic women 40+ who want to get stronger, build muscle, boost energy, and perform better. Implement evidence-backed strategies to fuel, train, and recover smarter with the support & accountability you need.

free workout program