6 Best Accessory Exercises for the Low Bar Squat

Legs | Strength Training 8 min Read

Written by

Keith Hansen

The low bar squat is a powerful version of the squat that will allow you to lift some serious weight.

This article will cover the six best accessory exercises for your low bar squat to take it to the next level.

To have a great low bar squat, you need to master the technique, and then you need to attack your weaknesses.

The best way to master the low bar squat technique is to read The Serious Guide on How to Low Bar Squat and then practice 2-3x per week.

The best way to attack your weaknesses is by using the exercises found below.

Primary Muscles

Five muscle groups are the most important to focus on when attacking your weaknesses. If any of these muscle groups are lagging, you will see it affect your low bar squat:

  • Upper Back (lower traps, teres major/minor, rhomboids, infraspinatus, supraspinatus)
    • Responsible for keeping your chest up and creating a shelf for the bar to rest upon
  • Low Back (erector spinae)
    • Assists with keeping your chest up, so you do not fold in half
  • Glutes
    • The glutes are what will get you out of the bottom of your squat
  • Hamstrings
    • Your hamstrings are doing most of the work throughout your low bar squat by extending the hip as you stand up and controlling your descent.
  • Quadriceps
    • Quads control the knee and assist the hamstrings with a smooth down-portion of the low bar squat and then are critical when standing up.


1. Chest-Supported Dumbbell Rows – Upper Back

No other exercise will build your upper back better than chest-supported dumbbell rows. Say hello to massive mid/low traps, ripped rhomboids, and toned teres major & minor.

These muscle groups are essential for low bar squats because they create the shelf your bar will rest on and keep you in thoracic(your upper spine) extension during the lift.

If you lack the strength to hold a good position or don’t have large enough muscles for the bar to rest on, you won’t go far in the low bar squat.

2.  Jefferson Curls – Low Back

Jefferson curls are straight-legged deadlifts taken to the extreme.

When you do straight-legged deadlifts, you touch the plates to the ground and come back up.

You have to stand on a box when you do Jefferson curls because your rep doesn’t stop at the ground. Instead, your rep stops when you can’t go any lower.

The extensive range of motion in the Jefferson curl allows the erector spinae(the muscles we’re targeting) to move through a massive range of motion.

Big ranges of motion mean enormous growth.

Another critical benefit of Jefferson curls is improved mobility throughout your posterior chain. Many people struggle with low bar squats because they have tight hamstrings, a stiff low back, or an upper back that doesn’t move well. The Jefferson curl will address all three of those mobility restrictions.

Be sure to start light on this exercise and build slowly.

3. Banded Hip Thrusts – Glutes

The glutes are critical in the low bar squat, and with that truth comes another truth: the thrust is a must.

Banded hip thrusts with added weight on your lap build the gluteus group precisely the way it needs for strong low bar squats. The glutes are fully loaded at the bottom of your deep hip flexion low bar squat, and they are the primary driver at the beginning of the ascent. They are also responsible for creating a stable position in the hole.

Grab a band. Grab a bench. Grab a dumbbell or barbell. Start thrusting.

You probably need more glute strength if your sticking point in the low bar squat is at the bottom.

4. Romanian Deadlifts – Hamstrings

Hamstrings do a lot in the low bar squat. And if you have been primarily high bar squatting, your hamstrings could be weak.

We always think about the quads as bulging out on a well-muscled thigh, but the hamstrings should also bulge. This is because the hamstrings are to the triceps as the quads are to the biceps–the quads and biceps get all of the attention, but the hamstrings and triceps are considerable contributors to limb circumference & strength.

Nothing will build your hamstrings like great Romanian deadlifts. 

The Romanian deadlift is also phenomenal for developing strength in the low back, glutes, and even the upper back that will transfer well to your low bar squats. So do not ignore this exercise.

5. Bulgarian Split Squat – Quads

The quads are last because they are the least likely thing on this list to hinder your low bar squat. Leg presses and general life favor the quads, but Bulgarian split squats are the cure if your quads are weak.

You can do them with a barbell across the shoulders, dumbbells in your hands, or simply your body weight.

The requirement here is that you position your feet so that your knee goes through an extensive range of motion. Driving your knee over your toes will ensure your quads get pumped to grow. Ensure your heel stays planted throughout the entire exercise.

6. Good Mornings – Hamstrings, Glutes, Low Back, Upper Back

Good mornings are going to challenge you harder than most other exercises. This movement will attack most of the muscles you need for the low bar squat, and you will be sore from these.

The movement is very similar to the Romanian deadlift, and that is why it is such an effective accessory exercise for the low bar squat. The big difference is that the bar is on your back instead of in your hands, making the exercise more challenging for your posterior chain.

We will show you how to do the good morning with a barbell in the video below because you most likely have access to one. However, if you have access to a safety squat bar, you should experiment using that because it will feel more natural.

Hungry for More?

If you’ve got more questions about the low bar squat, read the how to low bar squat guide.

Everything else you need to know is covered there. Technique. Programs. Videos. The Works.

Still need help with programming?

Check out The Seriously Strong Beginner Program and The Seriously Strong Intermediate Program if you’re more advanced to take your workouts to the next level.


Keith Hansen

Keith was an All-State wrestler in high school and in 2007 hung up his singlet to attend Florida State University to pursue a B.S. in business management. He wasn't sure what industry he wanted to be involved in at the time, but soon realized after graduating in 2011 that fitness was the ever-constant activity in his life. Keith began studying to become a personal trainer and in 2013 earned the National Strength and Conditioning Association's Personal Trainer certification. After a short stint as a big box gym trainer he realized he wanted to bring something different to Tallahassee. Keith competes in Powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, and Crossfit.