5 Great Compound Exercises

What are compound exercises?

When it comes go getting the biggest bang-for-your-buck, compound exercises are where its at. Most exercises can typically be put into two categories: compound exercises and isolation exercises.

  • Compound exercises use multiple muscle groups working together to complete a movement.
  • Isolation exercises generally train a single muscle group, in order to isolate and focus on that particular muscle.

Why are compound exercises so great?

  • If you are low on time, combining supersets with compound exercises are an incredibly efficient way of getting a lot of work in, without having to spend ages in the gym.
  • They burn more calories, as multiple muscle groups are having to work to move more weight.
  • They help train your heart. Although heart-health is largely associated with cardiovascular training, strength training using big compound lifts with a higher rep range and shorter rest period can have similar beneficial effects. 
 

Back Squats

Back squats (with a barbell) are sometimes called ‘king of leg movements’. Back squats work every major muscle in the lower body, and when substantial weight is put on the bar, it becomes a full-body exercise as you have to brace your trunk to create a stiff core. Muscles used: quads, glutes, adductor magnus (inner thigh), hamstrings, erectors, abdominals and obliques, upper back and lats, calves.

Deadlifts

Deadlifts are all about picking up really heavy stuff and then putting it back down again – simple as that. It’s one of the best strength-building and health-improving exercises around. Nothing will challenging your posterior chain quite like a deadlift. Muscles used: quads, glutes, adductor magnus (inner thigh), hamstrings, erectors, lats, traps, rhomboids, abdominals & obliques.

Hang Clean

Hang cleans are technically challenging but fantastic for promoting explosiveness, power-production and teaching full-body coordination. Because they use so many muscles they flood the body with growth hormone, useful for gaining strength and stripping fat. Muscles used: legs, back, biceps, trunk.

Bench Press

This is THE exercise to help improve upper body strength. The bench press can be a particularly useful exercise to assist sport-specific movements, like sprinting, hockey and football. There are a number of variations to target slightly different muscle groups, such as decline and close-grip. Muscles used: pectorals, front shoulders, triceps.

Pull-Ups

These are one of the toughest bodyweight exercises around. Pull-ups are the ultimate test of upper-body strength and one of the few bodyweight exercises that can also work your back and biceps. This requires minimal equipment, just a bar! Use bands to help you progress if you are struggling. Muscles used: biceps, lats, forearms.

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