Imagine these two scenarios:
Person A goes to the gym a few times a week. They use the machines for their weight training and occasionally do some reps with dumbbells.
Person B goes to the gym a few times a week. They do deadlifts, pull-ups, chin-ups, and similar exercises.
What’s the result? Well, both of them are probably going to make gains, but Person B is going to be making drastically more progress. Why? Compound exercises.
Compound Exercises for Best Training Results
Compound movements are exactly what they sound like. They utilize more than one joint to complete the exercise. Think of a squat where you are bending your knees and hips. If you’re doing a bicep curl, you’re only using your elbow joint, and thus it is not a compound exercise. Conversely, think of a bench press. You’re using your wrists, elbows, shoulders in terms of joints, and your pecs, shoulders, lats, biceps, forearms and more in terms of muscle.
So what makes these so much more effective for your workout? Utilizing more muscles and joints helps you lift more weight, and also you have to bring in so many different body components to complete the movement and get a great workout in so many areas.
If you aren’t using these kinds of exercises in your workout routine, it’s time to start. Here are the best ones to do to get the best bang for your buck.
The granddaddy of all exercises, squats need to be in everybody’s workout program no matter what your fitness and body goals are. A squat puts stress on your entire body, forcing you to utilize all your strength to perform the rep. While the focus is primarily on the glutes and legs in general, it really gives a workout to your body as a whole. Since your legs are the biggest muscle group, getting a deep burn through this exercise will also get your anabolic system going and help to build muscle all over.
Check the video below on how to do a proper squat:
Another one that is a personal favorite of mine! It’s similar to a squat in that it incorporates so many different muscle groups to perform the exercise properly. Again, your focus is mainly on the legs but it also has great benefits for strengthening your back and traps as well. Similar to squats, it can also give a boost of testosterone throughout your body for muscle building.
Learn how to do a proper deadlift in this video here:
Surely you are familiar with this one even if it isn’t part of your workout. It’s likely the most known exercise in terms of weightlifting, and that’s because the benefits are so great for your upper body as a whole. As mentioned above, it really gives a killer workout for your arms as well as your chest and shoulders.
Find out how to do a bench press the right way here:
This exercise is how you get that V-shaped upper body, helping to build up your lats as well as your shoulders. I talk about it a lot more on this page, so I’ll skip the full explanation and direct you there for more information. If you have difficulty pulling up your entire body weight, you can use resistance bands for assistance.
This video shows the right way to do pull-ups:
Another one where you may not be able to do it without assistance if you’re a beginner, but most gyms have machines with a platform you can stand on with adjustable weight to help you perform this exercise. This is a great workout for your arms, shoulders, traps, lats, back, and even engages your core. So many muscle groups from one simple exercise!
Learn how to do dips with this video here:
If you’re really wanting to build muscle, you need to start doing more compound exercises. I know it’s easy to sit there on the machines that guide you through the movement, but you will get so much more of a workout if you add the above-mentioned exercises to your routine. Simple as that!
Many of the workout programs we review here have these as essential parts of their routine – for good reason!