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What are Compound Exercises? All You Need to Stay Fit for Life

Compound exercises will help improve your physical strength and endurance with a sexier body. If you want to build lean muscle mass, try these compound exercises.

Daniel Murphy
What are Compound Exercises? All You Need to Stay Fit for Life
Table Of Contents

So you think you're fit? You might be surprised. Fitness is about more than just working out; it's a lifestyle. It's about making healthy choices and incorporating exercise into your routine. That's where compound exercises come in. Read on to find out what they are and all you need to stay fit for life.

What are Compound Exercises?

Compound exercises are a perfect way to get fit fast. These dynamic exercises target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, like glutes, quadriceps, and calves, providing an efficient and effective workout.

Compound exercises can improve your physical strength and endurance and help build lean body mass — perfect for those looking for an extra edge in the weight room.

In addition to the impressive physical benefits, there's something truly satisfying about feeling your body moving as a cohesive unit through each movement. It also allows combining two exercises into one to target more muscles, for example, a lunge with a bicep curl.

Compound exercises are one of the most important aspects of fitness. Not only do they save time by allowing you to target multiple muscles at once, but they also help build a strong foundation for better performance- not to mention improved balance, strength, and coordination.

Because compound exercises involve more muscles, they also help in burning calories. For example, a routine with exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and deadlifts will burn more calories than a routine with exercises like chest fly, leg extension, etc.

Compound exercises allow you to hit all the major muscle groups in fewer movements, making them especially helpful when maximizing efficiency during a workout session.

Doing compound exercises can also help form an overall stronger frame; many offer the ability to bring both opposing muscle groups into action simultaneously, like with chest presses and squats. Both offer significant benefits in a shorter amount of time than isolation exercises would towards building your desired physique.

All in all, involving compound exercises as part of your regular workout routine is a smart decision if optimal health and successful results are what you’re after.

Benefits of Compound Exercises

Compound exercises are the type of workout that give unbeatable results. Compared to single-joint exercises, which only work one body part at a time, compound exercises target multiple muscle groups and give multiple benefits with these workouts.

Improves Muscle Coordination

Compound exercises have the added benefit of improving your muscle coordination. Your body learns to work together in sync and can better regulate strain on different muscles so that you become stronger and fitter in no time.

Elevates Heart Rate

Activating more than one of your muscle groups at a time, these exercises save time and elevate your heart rate. That’s right; you can pump your heart faster and increase calorie burning by using simple compound movements like squats and burpees.

Improves Strength & Flexibility

Compound exercises are a great way to improve strength and flexibility simultaneously. Compound exercises enable greater muscle recruitment and stimulate larger increases in strength. They also facilitate powerhouse movements like squats and deadlifts, leading to improved posture, enhanced flexibility, and all-around better physical health.

Builds More Muscle Mass

Compound exercises allow you to work more muscle groups simultaneously and get the most bang for your buck. The result? You'll be able to pack on more muscle mass everywhere, as opposed to isolated specific regions.

The Best Compound Exercises

There is no denying that the six main compound exercises represent the foundation of any good workout. It's like the ABCs of strength training: do all these exercises, and you'll be well on your road to achieving total fitness.

Dumbbell Squats

Dumbbell squats are a total-body exercise and don't just work your quads. They also target multiple muscle groups and develop mobility, stability, balance, and strength. It's a great compound move that goes beyond toning your leg muscles. Here’s how to do it,

  • Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Dumbbells on the sides of your legs, and your palms should be facing your legs.
  • Engage your core and strengthen yourself, keeping your body straight.
  • Now, bend your knees, legs, and ankles into a squatting position.
  • Bend until your thighs are almost parallel to the ground.
  • Keep dumbbells close to your body all the while.
  • Slowly stand up straight.

Dumbbell Deadlifts

This compound exercise is a simple but effective solution for strengthening these large muscle groups, providing natural support for your core muscles. They bring out the full power of your glutes and hamstrings, so deadlifts with dumbbells are the way to go. To do it,

  • Choose a pair of dumbbells and place them on the ground right in front of you.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and place the dumbbells on either side of your feet.
  • Bend down, hold the dumbbells with your palms facing inward, and drop your hips.
  • Keep your hips in the natural position for leverage so you may raise and lower them slightly.
  • Keep your gaze ahead and keep your back straight, not allowing it to round.
  • Now start with standing straight with the dumbbells, not pulling them up from the ground but leading your head when you rise.
  • Use your mid-foot as you get upwards (leading with your head) as you get up.
  • As your dumbbells reach the knee level, thrust your hips forward and contract your core.
  • Hold for a moment here and then reverse the movement by bending at the knees while gradually lowering the weight. During this step, your dumbbells should be under strict control on the descent.
  • Repeat the reps.

Wide Grip Pull-Ups

Wide Grip Pull-ups incorporate other muscle groups like the shoulders, chest, core, and arms, making it an incredibly effective full-body workout. Not only can you gain the benefits of targeting multiple muscle groups with one move, but you'll also improve your overall strength and coordination simultaneously. To do it,

  • Hold the pull bar with your palm facing you (pronated grip) and grip the bar with a wider-than-shoulder-width grip.
  • Take a deep breath and squeeze your glutes and brace your abs. Depress the shoulder blades and lower your elbows straight down to the ground while activating the lats.
  • Pull your chin towards the bar till the lats are completely contracted.
  • Finally, slowly lower yourself back to the starting position and repeat the assigned reps.

Seated Bent-Over Row Shrug

The Seated Bent-Over Row Shrug is a compound exercise that has recently gained traction in fitness circles. It is an incredibly powerful move that simultaneously works for several muscle groups — incorporating the traps, shoulders, and (of course!) back muscles. Amazingly, this simple compound exercise can yield great results in no time. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by holding two dumbbells and sit on a flat bench.
  • Then bend your torso slightly to the front.
  • With this position, pull the dumbbells up and row back.
  • Repeat the reps.


Dips are an incredible compound exercise that can build massive upper-body strength. Not only does it work your chest, triceps, and shoulder muscles all in the same move, but it also offers real challenges for even the most seasoned athletes.

To do it,

  • Hold the handles of a dip station and jump or step up to start the movement.
  • Keep your arms straight, chest up, back straight, feet off the ground, and ankles crossed behind you.
  • Keeping your head neutral and arms close to the sides, bend your elbows till the upper arms are parallel to the ground.
  • Pause and then repeat.

Ab Wheel Rollouts

Ab Wheel Rollouts is a compound exercise that you should not take lightly. Whether you feel like a beginner facing this daunting-looking contraption or a veteran of exercises looking to add an extra challenge, Ab Wheel Rollouts have something for everyone. Here’s how to do it:

  • Start kneeling on the ground with the wheel in front of your legs.
  • Place your hands on both sides of the wheel.
  • Keep your core and upper body tight, roll the wheel forward without rounding or arching and go as far as possible.
  • Keep your spine and hips stationary throughout the movement.
  • Then, use your abs and core to roll the wheel back to the original position (where you started) and keep your upper body tight again for the movement.
  • Make sure to keep your abs working and not your arms.
  • Repeat the reps, and to avoid injury, don't roll too far until you develop better strength during the movement.

Compound Exercise Vs. Isolation Exercise

Compound and isolation exercises are two completely different types of movements that can play an important role in building strength.

With compound exercises, like a deadlift or shrugs, multiple muscles and joints are used during a single repetition, allowing your body to move as one powerful unit. They are effective because they challenge your muscles with heavy weights.

Isolation exercises, on the other hand, focus on activating a single muscle group s. While this type of movement won't chisel away at fat as compound movements do, they add definition to the existing muscle mass, sculpting sleek musculatures like that of a bodybuilder or fitness model.

With adequate research and professional advice, you can decide what type of workout works best for you.

The Bottom Line

Exercises that work for multiple muscle groups at the same time are not only more efficient, but they also help build a strong foundation for better performance. Though they may seem like more of a challenge than isolating exercises, compound movements pay off in the long run by burning more calories and improving balance, coordination, and strength. These are the compound exercises you’ve been avoiding; it might be time to try them.

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Daniel Murphy

Daniel Murphy is a fitness enthusiast who has been exploring the fitness world for many years and is combining his passion for writing to create well-researched, engaging, and unique content.

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