A few years ago I wrote the Top 5 Series:

And it was received pretty well. With that in mind, I decided to update a few of my lists for 2019. As I sat and reviewed the choices I made then, I decided that I didn’t want to make any changes; rather, I would expand on the ones I already had. The original articles were for assistance and accessory work. This series is for accessory work only.

What’s the difference, you say? Great question. Assistance work is what you do as a second exercise, or maybe a third. It is a heavy compound movement, and often, a variation of a classic lift. For example, a 3-Board Bench Press for five sets of five after your main exercise.

Accessory work is usually third, fourth, or later in the training session. It will usually include higher reps and may or may not be single joint. For example, Lat Pulldowns for four sets of 15 after benching.

Now that you get the idea, in my first article, “Top 5 Assistance/Accessory Exercises for the Squat,” the exercises I chose were:

  1. Box Squats
  2. Safety Bar Good Mornings
  3. GHR
  4. Walking Lunges
  5. Heavy Prowler Pushes

I still stand by this list, but I want to add only accessory work here. I am not taking off the ones listed above (GHR, Walking Lunge, Prowler) because they are killer. Instead, you get five new ones to add in. And here they are, my Top 5 Accessory Exercises for the Squat — New for 2019, in no particular order.

1. High Box Step Ups

Why? Well, most of us neglect the shit out of single leg work, and we shouldn’t. Single limb work helps to correct bilateral strength deficits and plain old suck. They are hard as balls, and as she says, hard is good.

Why a high box? Easy, more work. They work the entire leg: quads, hams, calves, and fancy named side leg muscles — everything. Plus, higher reps also suck.

  • Pro Tip 1: Start on a low box and work your way up until you can control it on a box where your hip crease is at least 90 degrees.
  • Pro Tip 2: Pick up your toes on the leg that you are pushing off. This makes the load go to the working leg a lot more.

2. Safety Bar Back Raise

Why? The Safety Bar Back Raise works the ass and hamstrings to death, plus the added bonus of upper back strength.

These are pretty simple. The best way to see is to watch the video below.

3. Kettlebell Swings

I don’t care if you agree. Why? Swings are awesome and a primal movement. It’s a hip hinge and any chance we get to grease that groove and reinforce our rooting, pushing knees out and hinging all while getting Strong(er) is a win. Kettlebell swings also are great for GPP.

Might as well kill two birds with one stone, right?

4. Hatfield Back Raise

Why? Because Fred said so. And it is one of the best, if not the best exercise to build your erectors with no damaging sheer force on the lumbar region. Strong spinal erectors are critical for a big squat and deadlift. Strong erectors also reduce the risk of injury to your lower back.

Be on the lookout for a new Spud Inc. strap coming soon for these.

5. Front Foot Elevated Split Squat

Why? Because you are not doing them. You’ve probably done these with your rear foot elevated, right?

Well, kids, these are much harder than they look, and they do a lot. They don’t need a ton of weight to be effective. Anytime we can get a positive response without using a ton of weight, we are adding longevity to the training career. This exercise also builds strength in the quads and improves hip mobility and balance.

Seems like a formula for a bigger squat to me.

And there it is: my Top 5 Accessory Exercises for the Squat — New for 2019. Add them in and keep the reps above eight and watch your squat go up.

Thank me later.