Posted on February 28, 2023 by Kate Halsall

With the start of our first ever Women’s Only Strength Workshop in March, we have been posting a lot on social media about exercises to build stronger squats, or better deadlifts and so on. These are what we call “accessory moves”, and this blog explains what we mean by this, and why they are important.

What is an Accessory Move?

In the simplest terms, an accessory exercise is an additional (or secondary) move which is used to help strengthen the main movement. They target or isolate a smaller, specific muscle group and are key to helping build strength in big compound lifts. There are lots of them – and we have only scratched the surface with some of the ones we have listed on social media and below!

Why are they Important?

  1. Build Strength and Overcome Plateaus. If you’re finding it difficult to get a new PB with a deadlift, or find your posture is slightly off in a back squat, accessory moves will help! Your strength is limited by your weakest muscles – so work them into you training and it makes sense that your overall strength will increase! Accessory moves are designed to complement your compound lift.
  2. Reduce Wear and Tear. As much as we may want to, we can’t lift heavy all of the time! Not only does our body fatigue training this way, but our joints, muscles, and connective tissues need a little respite too! Protect yourself from injury and focus on accessory moves.
  3. Improve Functional Movement and Muscle Imbalance. When we talk about “functional fitness”, we’re thinking about the things you do outside the gym: carrying the shopping, sitting and standing, putting stuff away or gardening. The body is designed to push, pull, rotate, bend/hinge and move. Adding accessory exercises into your exercise programme will ensure you strengthen other parts of the body and help correct any muscle imbalance by using different movements and varied form.

What Are Some Examples?


Barbell Bent Over Row – Works trunk and hip stability; improves strength in the back, glutes, hamstrings and lats; it also recruits the forearm and biceps muscles, which leads to a stronger grip.

Farmers Walk – Whilst this is a full-body workout great for muscle strength and endurance; it also increases grip strength.

Superman Hold – Strengthening your lower and upper back, this move also works your glutes and hamstrings, and increases your core strength.


Squat Jumps – For power and explosiveness whilst working glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves.

Hip Thrusts – Build strength and size in the glutes whilst activating the hamstrings, quadriceps, and adductors.

Plank – Strengthening your lower and upper back and your abdominals.

There are more! Too many to list here!

If you are looking to change up your workouts and add a little more strength based training to them; or want to add accessory moves into your workouts but don’t know where to start – we’re here to help! Our team of Personal Trainers are available to talk you through, create plans, check technique and give you the skills and knowledge you need.

If you haven’t already seen it, we are now on Pinterest and our Top Tips are being uploaded there.