What are Supplemental Lifts?

What are Supplemental Lifts?

Learn all about supplemental lifts for strength training and why they’re important for intermediate and advanced trainees.

A supplemental lift is defined as a variation of the main lift. It looks very similar to the main lift, but isn’t exactly the main lift. This can be applied to the four main exercises: squats, deadlifts, bench press and overhead press.

The reason for using supplemental exercises is to find our weak points in training and make them strong.

Examples of Supplemental Lifts


  • Paused Squat
  • Box Squat
  • Pin Squat
  • Tempo Squat

Bench Press

  • Floor Bench Press
  • Board Bench Press
  • Close Grip Bench Press
  • Slingshot Bench Press

Overhead Press

  • Pin Press or Rack Lockouts
  • Press Starts
  • Strict Press
  • Seated Strict Press


  • Rack Pulls
  • Deficit Deadlift

How Supplemental Exercises Work

Supplemental lifts will either have longer ranges of motion compared to the main lift, and thus less intensity (weight on the bar). Or supplemental lifts will have shorter ranges of motion, and thus more intensity. A supplemental lift with a longer range of motion would be the deficit deadlift and a shorter range of motion would be the rack pull.

To drive appropriate stress to our training, the supplemental lift with the longer range of motion (and decreased intensity) increases time under tension. A shorter range of motion (and increased intensity) increases intensity.

Who Should Use Supplemental Lifts?

Once you find weak points in your training, you should use the appropriate supplemental lifts to strengthen various ranges of motion. This is the most important reason for incorporating supplemental lifts into a strength program – to find the weak points.

Lastly, supplemental lifts should be used by intermediate or advanced lifters only.




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