Compound Exercises

by | Nov 13, 2020 | Fitness Guides

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio licensed under Pexels

If you want to work out less often, but you still want to burn lots of calories and see results in a short amount of time, you should consider a compound exercise routine. Perfect for those who prefer working out at home, compound exercises combine different moves that target multiple muscle groups at once.

What Are Compound Exercises?

Compound exercises require you to work both muscles and joints at the same time. In many ways, these movements mimic real-life activities like walking, bending, and reaching.
Compound exercises include squats, lunges, dips, deadlifts, shoulder presses, pushups, chest presses, and pull-ups.

Compound Exercises vs. Isolation Exercises

So what’s the difference between compound exercises and isolation exercises? While compound exercises work multiple muscle groups, isolation exercises focus on one muscle group at a time.

Isolation moves include bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, hamstring curls, and leg extensions.

You need to understand the difference between compound and isolation movements so you can create a workout routine that best suits your current fitness and long-term fitness goals.

Both exercise types can benefit your physical health. Consider mixing both compound and isolation exercises into one workout routine to build muscle, burn calories, and increase strength and endurance.

What Equipment Do I Need?

To perform specific compound exercises, you will need light weights, a jump rope, pull up bar, and a bench press. Some movements require only your body weight.

If you have some or all of this equipment, you can easily create an exercise routine using compound exercises at home. Add this routine to your current fitness regimen as a way to build muscle and maintain good joint health.

Benefits of Compound Exercises

Compound exercises yield many long-term benefits that include:

  • Increased calorie burn – by working one or more muscle groups at once, your body will burn more calories in less time.
  • Improve strength and flexibility – compound exercises help your build muscle while keeping your joints supple. You can increase your weight load as you grow stronger.
  • Increased muscle mass – these exercises target large muscle groups like your back, legs, and shoulders.
  • Healthy heart – increased blood flow requires the heart to pump blood throughout your body at a quicker pace. This increase helps your heart stay strong and healthy.
  • Better coordination and motor skills – compound exercises help improve balance, coordination, and reaction time.

How to Safely Perform Compound Exercises

Since compound exercises require multiple muscle movements, balance and coordination, and physical strength to lift varied weight loads, you need to perform each exercise safely to prevent injury.

Start slowly. Warm-up by stretching for at least five minutes before you work out and for at least five minutes after you work out. Learn the proper form for each exercise before increasing your weight load.

Failure to learn how to perform these exercises could lead to back, shoulder, leg, knee, or arm injuries. If you have an existing injury, you need to stick with isolation exercises until the injury heals or until your physician gives you the go-ahead to perform more complex movements.

Compound Exercises that Target Your Core Muscles

Your core muscles, which include your abs, help maintain balance when you perform compound movements. This means that your core muscles get a good workout while you squat, lunge, and jump rope.

To strengthen core muscles, you need to engage these muscles when performing compound movements. To do this, you need to maintain perfect form and get as deep into the move as you can. For example, you should try to squat to the floor as opposed to only squatting halfway. Your core should feel tired after the workout.

A strong core helps improve posture, balance, and stability, and makes completing everyday tasks easy and less painful.

Use Compound Exercise to Target Specific Muscle Groups

Even though compound exercises help you get a full-body workout, you can use these movements to target specific muscle groups like your legs, back, or arms.

If pressed for time, or if you want to build muscle in a particular area, compound exercises allow you to work out all the muscles in that group in less time.

You can’t build and maintain muscle performing isolation exercises alone. You need that combination of small and large muscles working together to burn calories so your body can tear-down muscle and build it back up again.

Can I Focus Solely on Compound Exercise Workouts?

Compound exercises provide an all-around fitness experience that works every muscle, which means you could focus on compound exercises alone. However, cardio, strength training, yoga, and other types of physical activity provide positive health benefits.

If you want to focus on compound exercises, try to mix them up to avoid boredom. Maintain your motivation to stay fit by engaging your brain as well as your body. Varying your workout routine can help you stay fully engaged.

But if you want to build muscle quickly, you should make compound exercises a priority. Beginners should start with light weights and increase the load as their strength improves to avoid a fitness plateau – this happens when your body becomes used to a particular routine and stops building muscle.

Creating an exercise regimen that includes a variety of exercises can help you avoid a fitness plateau. But if it happens, you can increase your weight load, extend your workout time, and add new movements to the routine. Fitness plateaus don’t last forever, but you must work a little harder to get past them.

How Often Should I Work Out?

Working multiple muscle groups all at once during one workout session can save you time. To get the most from compound exercises, complete a full-body workout two to three times a week. If you stick with it, you will see results within a few weeks.


If you struggle to find the time to exercise, consider creating a compound exercise routine. You can perform these exercises at home in the morning, afternoon, or evening. By combining compound and isolation exercises, you can work both major and minor muscle groups while maintaining healthy joints, a strong heart, better balance and coordination


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