A compound exercise is an exercise that requires more than one major muscle group. It uses a minimum of two joints and works more than one muscle. Compound exercises are the best exercises to use as they help build strength and muscle mass extremely fast. Not all exercises are created equal. Compound exercises are a great way to pack on muscles, boost strength, and increase overall athleticism. Here are 5 compound exercises to build up your strength.
The deadlift is a compound exercise that works for almost every muscle group in the body. This workout recruits more muscle mass than any other lift, thus burning more calories and causing the most metabolic disturbance. The main muscle group involved is the hamstrings. Your lower back muscles, glutes, arms, and core are also involved with this movement.
Here is how you do this exercise;
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Bend forward at the hips and grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, your hands should be shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your back straight, lift the barbell off the floor and pull it up towards your hips.
- Once the barbell reaches your hips, pause for a moment, then lower the barbell back to the floor.
The deadlift is one of the best exercises you can do to gain muscle mass and improve overall strength. It uses multiple muscle groups, activates more muscle fibers, and requires more energy than other lifts. Performing this exercise reduces stress on joints and strengthens the back muscles, both of which are essential for preventing injuries and maintaining a strong back.
The squat is a compound exercise for strength, which means doing squats will work for more than one muscle group. Squats can be done using barbells and dumbbells, or with just your bodyweight alone. Squats involve the large leg muscles (quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles), almost every muscle of the back and core muscles as well.
To do a squat;
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, and your head up.
- Take a deep breath, and as you exhale, begin to lower your bottom towards the floor as if you were going to sit in a chair.
- Keep your head up, and your back straight as you descend.
- Lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and then pause for a moment.
- From the paused position, exhale and drive your heels into the floor to return to the starting position.
The squat is a benchmarking exercise for any kind of strength training program. This compound exercise works to strengthen your core muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and glutes. Whether you’re just starting your fitness program or are an experienced lifter, squats are a great movement that you can use to begin building muscle mass.
3. Bench Press
The bench press is the most popular exercise for developing your chest, but it can also be used as a compound movement for building upper body strength. The main muscles worked when you perform the bench presses are your pecs and triceps. Your form must be correct when performing this exercise to avoid injury and to get maximum results.
To do a bench press;
- Lie on your back on a flat bench with your feet flat on the ground.
- Grab the barbell with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Arch your back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. This will help you to get a good range of motion.
- Slowly lower the barbell to your chest, pause, then press the barbell back up to the starting position.
The bench press is one of the best exercises you can do to build your chest. When performed correctly, the lift can have a significant impact on your strength, upper body mass, and physical development. Incorporating it into your workouts will help you reach your overall fitness goals faster.
4. Overhead Press
The overhead press, also called military press, is a total body compound exercise that primarily targets the deltoids, but also engages the grip strength and traps. In addition, it engages the erector spinae as synergistic muscles that aid in form and execution of the overhead press.
Here is how you do overhead press;
- Start with the barbell in front of your collarbone, your hands gripping the barbell just outside shoulder width.
- Take a deep breath and begin pressing the barbell overhead, extending your arms until the barbell is directly above your head.
- Lower the barbell back down to the starting position, keeping your elbows close to your sides throughout the movement.
As a compound exercise, the overhead press is a great movement for developing upper body strength. It also engages a number of muscles throughout the body, so you can burn more calories in a workout. In addition, it improves posture, as well as form and discipline during the execution of the movement. There are several variations of this press, with each providing unique benefits to those looking to target their shoulders and upper body.
5. Pull Up
Pull ups are an excellent upper body exercise that you can do almost anywhere. While pull ups primarily work your lats (latissimus dorsi), they also build significant strength in the arms, shoulders, and chest. The idea behind compound exercises is to strengthen several muscles at the same time using less equipment. It doesn’t matter how big or strong you think you are, there’s always room for improvement – and doing some extra pull ups will help you get there.
Here is how you do this exercise;
- Start by hanging from a bar with your palms facing away from you and your arms fully extended.
- Bend your knees and cross your feet behind you.
- Keeping your core engaged, use your back and arm muscles to pull your body up until your chin is over the bar.
- Lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat.
Pull-ups are one of the most effective compound exercises out there. You don’t need any equipment to do them, and all you need is a free bar – whether it’s hanging from a tree or something installed in your house. And you can do pull-ups any time; whenever you feel like it.
The compound exercises listed here are excellent for improving strength, especially for those with limited time and training knowledge. However, you should still vary your workout routine by including complimentary exercises from each category. Remember to always alternate the type of compound exercises you use each session so as not to develop a pattern that can lead to muscle imbalance and injury.