Let’s face it: If you want to be stronger in the big compound movements, you have to do more than just those movements. If you want to bench more weight, you’re going to have to be doing more than just bench pressing.

Remember you’re only as strong as your weakest link. A bench press may primarily hit your chest, but your triceps also play a key role in lifting more weight. When it comes to the deadlift, your glutes are what help you lock out the barbell, and when it comes to squatting, it’s the quads, not the hamstrings, that drive the load up. 

The point is, to get good at the big three you need to step away from them and start to focus on other muscles that play a part in the lift. Here’s a breakdown of how the muscles that I focus on below can help you lift more.

Shoulders: Strong shoulders are more stable, which will help you support more weight for both the bench press and deadlift. When it comes to benching, they also play a small role in driving the weight up. 

Triceps: Located on the back of your upper arm, the tricep helps lock out the weight at the top of the bench press. The same goes for the overhead press, which isn’t considered a member of the big three but is still on this list. 

Glutes and hips: Both of these work together to lock out the weight at the top of the deadlift and drive up weight during the squat. The glutes are one of the largest muscles in your body, and the hips are stabilizers that grant you the mobility to get lower in the deadlift and squat deeper. 

Quads: The quads extend your lower leg at the knee joint, which means they’re a main mover during the squat. Once you dip below parallel, they’ll come into play to drive you back up before your glutes and hips come into play. 

Back: Your back is made up of a handful of different muscles, but all of them work together to do two main things whenever the big three are concerned: 1) Provide a base for you to bench from and to support more weight on the back squat, and 2) hold your spine in place to prevent rounding during deadlifts. 

In this article, I have outlined accessory movements you should be using to help you get stronger in the main lifts. These accessory movements have helped tons of people get over their training hump.

Muscular bodybuilder working out with a upper back exercises

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