What are Compound Exercises and why should they be included in every workout routine? Compound exercises are now at the heart of most modern-day fitness programs. The focus of these exercises is usually on functional fitness which is developed by specific workout routines which simulate real-life activities in addition to using various movements through a full range of motion.
In essence, they are multi-joint movements, which work a number of muscles at a time. They are most preferred because they stress your muscles, joints, tendons, as well as ligaments. A good example of compound exercises is the squat, which engages several muscles in the core and lower body, including the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, core, lower back, and the glutes.
Unlike isolated exercises, they develop the whole body, rather than a specific part. People who include isolation exercises in their workouts train for the development of one particular body part rather than overall strength.
This leads to the development of some weak points, which give away when subjected to enough stress. On the other hand, compound movements find your weak links and exert maximum stress on them, and this is for the best. It is only until your joints can handle extra power that your muscles can be strong.
Why Compound Exercises
Healthy athletes understand that one has to work out very hard in order to put on some quality muscle and have their body weight increase in a steady manner. Compound movements are the most recommended and generally preferred for all workout plans. The following are some of the reasons why you should do them during work out.
- The use of more muscle groups
- Ensures that you burn more calories during the workout
- Enhances coordination, balance and reaction time
- Enhances stability of joints as well as muscle balance through a joint
- Reduces injury risk
- Enables you to lift much heavier loads building more strength
- Arouses real-world exercises as well as activities
- Maintains a higher heart rate while it provides cardiovascular benefits
- Enables a person to have a faster body workout
- Enables a person to work out for long with minimal muscle fatigue
These are just a few of the benefits associated with compound exercises, which may not be achieved through isolated exercises.
List of Compound exercises
If you really want to get big, you need to squat, period. Squats are also known as the king of exercises, and this holds a lot of truths. Studies have shown benefits of squatting in postmenopausal women with an increase in their bone density.
It is considered a functional exercise along with Deadlifts. Functional exercises are movements that mimic activities that you perform in your daily life. Think about how many times a day you need to squat or bend? When you squat, major muscle groups are involved like Quadriceps, Upper Back, Lumbar Spine, Thigh Adductors, Hamstrings and even Glutes and Abdominal Muscles.
It is considered a complete exercise in the sense that it involves a workout of the full body. It trains both the lower and upper body, and there is none other like it. It works out almost every muscle including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, back, lower back, rear deltoids, traps, among others.
It is similar to a squat but you have the barbell on your hands and not on the shoulders. Even though very effective, it is risky, and you need a lot of practice as well as knowledge on the appropriate form in order to perform it.
You need to be extra careful because injuring the back during this exercise means being out of the gym for long. However, it is enough on its own for a day’s workout, and it builds up your muscles very fast.
Barbell Bench Press
It is a major exercise for the development of the mass and strength of the whole chest muscles. In addition, it emphasizes the use of triceps and shoulders hence it is an exercise for the upper body. It is performed by lying on a bench and grasping a barbell with a grip slightly wider than one’s shoulders. The back should be kept flat on the bench while feet should be stable on the ground.
The forearms need to be vertical after lowering the barbell. Lift the bar by extending the arms but don’t lock the elbows towards the end. Keep them a little bent. Lower the bar towards the chest almost to touch it. Repeat the movement.
Breath in when you lower the bar and breath out after pushing up. Do not endanger your back by lifting weights that are too heavy for you. Complete extension of the arms may injure the elbows as well as make you lose tension on the muscles. On the other hand, the bar should touch the chest.
Seated Leg Press
A horizontal leg press machine is used for working out the quads muscles as well as hamstring and glutes as secondary muscles. The procedure is to sit on the machine with the back flat on its support and the feet on the platform. Make adjustments on the platform and the position of the seat so that your quads are close to the chest while you are relaxing.
Since during the start point your legs are straight, bend them applying resistance against the platform as it comes towards you, to a point where the knees almost touch the chest. Push the platform towards its original position. Knees should be a little bent.
Push Up to Overhead Press
The push up to the overhead press is another perfect compound exercise which targets almost every muscle group in your body. This is a simple workout you would use if you are not in a position to keep up with your workout routine due to holidays, travel, and other obligations.
It also makes for an excellent basic workout for individuals who do not like strength training, do not have sufficient time, or have limited space or equipment.
The push up to overhead press is a relatively straightforward way for any athlete to reap full body strengthening in a single exercise. Besides, it is simple yet effective. You will also need not to worry about particular muscle groups, the order of exercises or sets and reps.
When done correctly, this exercise works almost all muscles in the body, adds intensity, elevates the heart rate, and wipes you out in 10 minutes. This exercise could be done daily if lighter weights are used, but if you decide to go heavy, you might probably target at least thrice a week with one rest day between your workouts.
The lunge is merely a huge step forward. This compound exercise can be done with a barbell on your shoulders right behind the neck, with dumbbells held on both sides or without weights. Lunges usually work the muscles in the buttocks and the upper leg muscles.
Performing lunges with weights needs correct balance, so if you have problems maintaining balance, you should begin without weights. This aids you in learning proper form as you develop balance for this exercise, which will reduce the risk of injury when weights are added. A lunge exercise done with weights usually offers additional work for the body muscles and serves as an ideal exercise to add to your circuit-training program workout.
The push up could be the right exercise to build core and upper body strength. When done correctly, this is a compound exercise that uses the back, chest, triceps, abs, shoulders, and legs. One of the most impressive aspects of this compound exercise is that it has numerous variations.
By varying the pushup exercise, you can alter the stimulus on your body muscles. This is essential since our bodies could get complacent and when they do, we do not reap many benefits from exercises. The push-up can be performed in variations like the incline pushup, stability ball pushup, bent knee pushup, clapping pushup, and diamond pushup.
Lat Pull Down
The pull-down is yet another compound exercise that is usually performed at a workstation fitted with adjustable resistance, typically plates. While sitting with the upper thighs restrained, you pull down a hanging bar to the chin level then release it back up for a single rep.
This exercise usually works your back muscles, particularly the latissimus dorsi, commonly known as the lats, a muscle that is right under your armpits and which spreads down and across your back. By excluding your back muscles in the pull-down exercise, you focus more on the lats without wearing out your triceps or biceps.
If you want a complete, functional, and efficient workout, then incorporating this list of compound exercises in your training is the best move to make. For exercises with numerous variations, it is always advisable that you begin with the most basic variation before trying advanced variations of the list of compound exercises mentioned above.
They are very important as they enable a person to engage extra muscle groups that facilitate lifting of more weight. This makes it possible for quicker and more reliable progression resulting in high returns. They are far much better compared to isolation exercises for most individuals, most of the time.