Compound Exercises

Original Editor - lucinda hampton

Top Contributors - Lucinda hampton  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Compound Lift .jpeg

A compound exercise uses several muscle groups collaboratively to perform a movement[1] eg Dumbbell shoulder press on exercise ball involves concerted work by abdominals, deltoids, pectoralis major, and triceps brachii.

  • Compound exercises differ from isolation exercises. These work a single muscle group at a time. eg Use of a "pec dec" is an isolation exercise meant to strengthen the pectorals.
  • Isolation exercises are sometimes beneficial in physical therapy to strengthen certain muscles or rehabilitate them after injury.[2]

Benefits[edit | edit source]

Compound exercise.jpeg
Chin ups.jpeg

Compound exercises benefits include:

  • Train many muscles at once.
  • Easier to Progressive Overload.
  • Raise Testosterone and Growth Hormone: Research shows that compound lifts produce much larger increases in anabolic hormones (testosterone and growth hormone) than isolation exercises, another reason they are superior for building muscle.
  • Stronger, Denser Bones: It’s not just muscles that will benefit from lifting heavy, bones will too. As muscle and strength increases, bones will become stronger and denser.
  • Improves Intermuscular Coordination: Compound exercises teach your muscles and joints to train as one unit. They work together to produce and control force. With this big improvements in coordination, balance, and movement efficiency occur.
  • Burn More Calories: Compound exercises have a much higher net energy expenditure than isolation exercises, so they will burn far more calories. If fat loss is important, compound exercises are superior eg if lowering BMI or improving body composition. (the more muscle mass, the more calories burnt when resting).
  • Improves Flexibility & Mobility: Compound exercise is actually doing a form of dynamic stretching. Compound exercises that move you through a large range of motion are lengthening and contracting muscles with every rep, naturally improving flexibility and it optimising joint mobility[3].

Examples[edit | edit source]


There are many compound exercises to choose from here are a few:

  • Push up
  • Barbell deadlift. Muscles targeted- forearms, lats, glutes, hamstrings, core, upper-, mid-, and lower back
  • Front lunge with twist and Reverse lunge to balance with bicep curl.
  • Dumbbell shoulder press on exercise ball. Muscles targeted: abs, deltoids, pectoralis major, triceps brachii
  • Plank exercise.jpg
    Plank and High plank T-spine rotation. Great exercises for core strength, the core is the glue that holds your upper body and lower body together.[3]
  • Chin ups. Primarily target the lats and biceps
  • Squat. Muscles targeted: quadriceps, glutes, and calves.[2]
  • Jumping ropes
  • Dips

Safety[edit | edit source]

Gym ladies.jpeg

If you aren’t sure how to properly perform a compound exercise, ask a physiotherapist or fitness professional at your gym. They can show you the right technique so you avoid injury.

Before starting a new exercise routine, see your doctor. They can recommend a safe workout schedule for your fitness level.

References[edit | edit source]