A 600lb squat is a dream for many lifters, but choosing the correct squat accessory exercises can be fairly burdensome, frustrating, and ineffective at times.
But, no need to worry, since we have the very best squat accessory movements you can do right here.
It can be pretty challenging to give a one-size-fits-all prescription when it comes to squat accessory movements since lifters of all shapes and sizes will suffer from various mechanical weaknesses.
However, there are some devastatingly effective exercises that will help you reach your 600lb squat goal –regardless of your weakness.
If you need something a little more tailor made, we have a specific squat program that will last you a lifetime. Click here to check out our squat program that includes squat accessory movements specific to each weakness.
How to Squat 600lb: The Best Squat Accessory Exercises: The “Herc” Squat
Taken from our article on the Herc Squat:
I assure you, you’ll have never done this exercise. But this isn’t a gimmick–just a simple exercise familiar to most people who have been lifting for a while; but with my personal spin on it.
Accidents happen; but accidents can also lead to great innovations.
And this is what happened when I discovered this particular monster accessory movement.
I found this by accident because my gym only had dumbbells up to around 75lb and I couldn’t find the correct balance when doing a Bulgarian Lunge while using a barbell.
And I wanted to increase my deadlift and squat, but use real weight in the process.
By this I mean that I wanted to far exceed my real numbers in a supramaximal lift to grow my lower body — and fast.
So I used the Smith Machine.
That’s right, I, a powerlifter at the time, used the Smith Machine.
But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Without much further teasing, here is the exercise: A Supramaximal Partial Bulgarian Split Squat.
It sounds rather unglamorous and a bit of a mouthful to say, but, believe me, it really works as a squat accessory exercise.
UPDATE: I will be calling this lift the “Herc Squat.”
You’ll be thanking me for the enormous gains you’ll make to your deadlift, squat, and glute development; but you’ll hate me when you use the can in the days after training.
All you have to do is set safety pins on the Smith Machine, have a bench parallel to the Smith Machine, get under the bar, raise your inactive leg onto the bench–as if you were actually performing a Bulgarian Split Squat.
My twist here is the whopping overloading of the bar that you can get away with. The bar path is restricted by the Smith Machine itself, reducing the need to expend energy on stability.
The safety pins will stop the bar from descending too low to reduce the risk of injury.
Combined, you can really go to town in throwing the weight around.
Moreover, new accessory movements drilled into your program are easy to PR on.
When I first started these, I could do 3.5 plates a side. After a few months, this increased to nearly 5 plates a side.
My max squat at the time was in the mid-500s, and, within a year, I added over 60lb to my squat–mostly because of this exercise.
Now, let’s take a step back: 3.5 plates–or 160kg on the bar–per leg translates to the equivalent of a 320kg squat. I have never attempted to walk out more than 7 plates a side in my life–far less than what I began dealing with.
Then sooner, rather than later, I almost went up to 5 plates a side on my right leg–the equivalent load of a 420kg squat. And don’t forget, thus far, I’m a lifelong natural lifter.
I will never squat anything close to that.
Even if I gained 150lb, blasted tren, deca, anadrol, dbol, and any other compound I could get my hands on for a decade, I’d never be able to squat that.
I would usually do this exercise as my 1st or 2nd accessory movement on my squatting day, depending on how I’m feeling.
Working sets should never exceed six reps as they are very taxing on the joints and inner thighs at heavier weights.
Doing the equivalent of a half squat ONTO SAFETY PINS is more than enough range of motion for this particular movement, with supramaximal loads.
Your glutes, inner thighs, and quads–in that order–will be exceptionally sore for the days after training, so be warned.
Do not program this exercise on a basis more frequent than one month on, one month off as it can be taxing on the body.
You will reap the greatest reward if it is NOT a mainstay, but rather an exercise to shock the lower body and core whenever you’ve begun to hit a rut.
And don’t say you weren’t warned when you make unthinkable gains.
Box Front Squat
The box front squat is a commonly overlooked squat accessory exercise that can yield otherworldly results in bringing up your squat, deadlift, core, and lagging legs.
It’s a simple — yet challenging — variation of the already-tough front squat.
By taking out the stretch-reflex cycle or momentum out of the front squat by adding a box into the equation, the box front squat is an amazing exercise you can add to your arsenal that forces you to front squat with correct form — otherwise you will have to abandon the movement.
I, personally, have enjoyed great success in hammering my legs, core, and upper back with the box front squat as it quickly became a mainstay in my program when I was a powerlifter.
Why You Should Do The Box Front Squat
If you can’t box front squat, you can’t front squat.
I urge many of my newer lifters to practice squatting onto a box before they can squat regularly for a variety of reasons.
It forces you to maintain tight, upright, plus it will give you the psychological confidence to execute the movement correctly.
Moreover, the box set up, taking out some of the tension, becomes an irreplaceable opportunity to sneak in more volume.
1. The Box Front Squat Will Correct your Form
As mentioned, the box front squat will help correct your form, making it a useful squat accessory exercise.
Far too many inexperienced lifters tend to rock forward and lose control of the bar which is already in a precarious position to start with.
This variation, with having a box to aim for, will help you establish correct motor patterns for an efficient squatting movement.
You have to keep upright throughout the box front squat, otherwise the bar will roll forward off your shoulders.
By descending onto the box, you can adapt more efficient positions out of the hole as the stretch-reflex cycle is eliminated, meaning that you cannot be reliant on the momentum in the front squat or elasticity stored in your tendons when rising out of the hole.
2. You Can Add More Overall Volume Into Your Training
As the box front squat eliminates some tension from the movement, you can hit higher rep ranges with weights you would not be able to do without the box in place.
When I used to powerlift, the box front squat was a warm up to heavy deadlifts as it activates many of the same muscles, as we will discuss later.
But one of the best added benefits to this squat variation is that you can incorporate more overall volume into your training to promulgate strength development and muscle growth where it counts.
For this reason, the box front squat is one of the best squat accessory and deadlift accessory movements out there — especially if you’re not averse to packing on mass in the process.
3. It Has High Stimulus to Low Fatigue
As opposed to just heavy squatting, the box front squat is less fatiguing, but boasts a high level of muscular stimulation. At the height of my powerlifting training, I could squeeze in 2-3 box front squat sessions a week.
For this reason, the box front squat is a great exercise to implement into your program when you are dieting to lose fat.
During a deep caloric deficit, you will not have similar energy levels to being in a bulk or at a caloric maintenance.
This means, you get a lot of bang for your buck in this variation without becoming overly tired and abandoning your leg day prematurely.
4. There’s Immense Carryover to A Number of Other Exercises/Activities
As it trains many of the other muscles trained in other exercises such as the squat, deadlift, row, etc., this lower impact/high reward exercise can help you blow up your numbers in the squat, deadlift, vertical, and sprints.
The box front squat was a great warm up exercise to deadlifting as it trained most of the muscles used in the deadlift.
And, as a sumo puller, I was able to use a wider stance on the box front squat, which enabled me to mimic a similar starting position to my pull, but with a lower starting point, helping me to become more powerful off the floor in the deadlift.
The box front squat also transferred nicely to my main squat due to it overloading the quads in a way that I found to be superior to the traditional squat, resulting in higher numbers.
Furthermore, given the corrective nature of the box front squat, it enabled me to enhanced my squatting form.
Lastly, the position also imitates a vertical jump, making it a near-perfect exercise to bring up my jumping ability. Athletes can benefit more from this box squat variation than from a traditional box squat when it comes to selecting a squat accessory movement.
5. It Reduces Spinal Loading & is Gentler on the Lower Back/Knees
Given the positioning of the bar over the shoulders, range of motion, and lower total weightload, the box front squat is a safer option for the spine and knees.
Moreover, inexperienced lifters who botch the front squat, given its easier-to-bail position of the bar across the front deltoids, can abandon the movement more safely than its back squat counterpart.
As you are dealing with a lighter weightload, it places less stress on the spine. Squatting and other squat accessory movements that deal with supramaximal loads can place a lot of stress on the spine.
Please read our article on spinal decompression for more information.
6. Your Upper Back and Core Will Get One Hell of a Workout
In order to keep the bar stable on your shoulders, you will need to unlock an enormous amount of strength in your upper back and core.
Likewise, in the bottom portion of the lift off the box, you will be challenged in keeping the bar still to complete the lift.
In the past, I’ve called the box front squat one of the best core exercises out there — nothing will work your obliques quite like it when you begin loading on the plates to the bar.
The paused squat is an amazing exercise with a high return on investment. If you’re stuck at a training plateau or simply have chicken legs, this quick tweak in your squat can help you make enormous gains, making it one of the best squat accessory exercises around.
There are few better exercises to bring up your numbers fast than the paused squat; and, as we mentioned, even those looking to add mass to their thighs could benefit greatly from the paused squat.
Unless you frequent a hardcore gym, you will rarely see lifters take on this impressive variation — and that is to their detriment: they are leaving gains at the table!
1. The Paused Squat Eliminates the Stretch-Reflex Cycle
The stretch-reflex cycle, put simply, allows you to tap into the elasticity stored in your tendons and muscles to propel yourself through a movement more forcefully.
Taking a pause at the bottom of the squat eliminates said elasticity and forces you to contract your leg muscles and glutes harder in order to get through the lift.
It’s very difficult to cheat your way through a squat when you attempt this variation.
2. It’s a High Stimulus, Low Fatigue Exercise
It may seem a little nutty, but the paused squat isn’t as fatiguing as one might think, making it a perfect accomplice to a lifter who is cutting to shed fat or a kickass accessory movement to other lower body primary lifts.
When you’re cutting calories to lose fat, you will not have the same energy levels as you would while bulking or maintaining.
Consequently, you need to preserve your hard-earned muscle mass by implementing exercises with a high stimulus to fatigue ratio to get the most out of your training while you are depleted.
This variation of the king of lower body movements can certainly fit the bill.
3. Address Your Weaknesses
Many lifters are weak out of the “hole” or the bottom portion of the squat.
This variation specifically reinforces this weakness and enables the lifter to practice propelling themselves out of their weakness.
Not only will it add mass where it counts, but it will also significantly strengthen this portion of the lift.
4. The Paused Squat Forges Mind-Muscle Connection
Lifters with poor squatting form can benefit greatly by lightening the load a little and trying to establish a greater mind-muscle connection to help develop stronger legs in the process.
While you’re at the bottom of the lift — in the hole — as you cannot rely on the stretch-reflex cycle to plaster over mechanical weaknesses, you are forced to establish proper motor patterns.
As a result, you will train to make yourself more efficient at the squat, as a movement, and recruit more firing muscle fibers in the process.
5. It Will Build Your Core
The paused squat will bring up your core strength like little else.
Imagine descending with more than twice your bodyweight at the bottom of the lift and comfortably holding the weight across your back before coming back up?
The isometric portion of the pause elicits great core stability in the bottom position and in the concentric portion of the lift.
Strengthening the core should be a must for squat accessory exercises.
6. It Will Bring Up Your Other Numbers
The paused squat boasts immense carryover to your other lifts — aside from being a wonderful squat accessory movement.
Many elite lifters employ it to help bring up their deadlift as many of the same muscles are used.
It can also help increase your vertical jump and all-round athleticism due to the muscles it recruits.
7. Your Upper Back Tightness Is a Must
Some lifters fail at higher weight loads in the squat as they lack appropriate tightness in their upper back.
You simply cannot execute a paused squat without keep your upper back tight.
This movement will help teach you how to remain tight throughout the lift.
8. It Will Strengthen Your Form
Again, like with upper back tightness and core strength, you will not be able to complete a paused squat if there are mechanical breakdowns.
The paused squat forces you to assume proper form — it’s a case of sink or swim!
Form breakdown prevention ingrained in this exercise elevates it as a squat accessory movement.
Anderson Squat/Pin Squat
This is the king of squat accessory movements or the OG of squat accessory movements.
The great thing about this squat accessory exercise is that it enables you to handle higher weightloads to the squat itself.
You will add size and strength to your core as well as teach yourself how to handle supramaximal loads.
In my own experience, I was able to increase my pin squat by around 90lb in a month the first time I ever programmed this squat accessory exercise into my training, and it helped me squat 500lb for the very first time.
Use it sparingly since it can be challenging on the Central Nervous System (CNS). Like with the Herc Squat, try this on a one-month-on, one-month-off basis for best results.
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