Compound Exercises for Maximum Muscle Gains

Compound Exercises

One term you’ll often hear thrown around when listening to weight training is ‘compound exercises’.

What does this stand for? How will compound exercises benefit you? What do you need to know about this particular type of workout protocol?

Let’s take a closer look at the main points to know and remember regarding compound exercises.


Sqauts are a one of the most important compound exercises as you’re working with the largest muscles in the body

What Are Compound Exercises?

First let’s talk about what compound exercises are.  Compound exercises are any exercise that works more than one muscle group at a time.  Basically, they are ‘multi-joint’ or ‘multi-muscle’ movements.

For instance, let’s take a look at two exercises – the bicep curl and the squat.

The bicep curl works just your bicep muscle alone. It’s often referred to as an isolation exercise.

The squat on the other hand works the quads, hamstrings, glutes, core, as well as the calves.

As you can see, it’s far from an isolation move.  This makes it a compound exercise as it’ll hit all those muscles in each and every rep that you perform.

Some of the most commonly known compound exercises include:

•    Squats
•    Leg Press
•    Lunges
•    Deadlift
•    Bench Press
•    Push Ups
•    Pull Ups
•    Bent Over Row
•    Shoulder Press

If you stop and look at each of these exercises, you’ll come to see that each is going to be utilising more than one muscle group at a time.

What Are The Benefits Of Compound Exercises?

So what are the benefits to doing compound exercises? The first big benefit, as you might imagine is the fact that it’s going to save you time.

If you can work three muscle groups at once, that saves you doing three isolation exercises for each of those muscles.

Over the course of a workout, this really adds up.

In addition to that, because you have so many muscle fibres working hard whenever you do each lift, this means that you’ll be experiencing greater strength gains.

You’ll be able to hoist more weight when doing a compound move compared to an isolation, which means greater overall strength progression.

Compound exercises are also going to provide better cardiovascular benefits to your workout routine as well.

Doing a heavy set of squats or lunges for instance will quickly get your heart rate up and keep it there, providing you this cardiovascular conditioning.

Finally, compound exercises are also great for burning up calories quickly.

The more muscle fibres you work in any given exercise you do, the more total calories you’ll burn.

For example, which would burn more calories – picking a glass of water up off the table and taking a drink or walking into the kitchen to get a glass of water and drinking it there?

Clearly the latter would because it requires more movement and more muscles. The same goes for your workouts.

The more muscles you can hit in every instant of that workout session, the more total calories you’ll burn.

So for those who are looking for weight loss or strength gains, compound exercises are a great go to.

How To Include Compound Exercises In Your Workout Routine

So how do you go about including these compound exercises into your workout routine?

Shoulder Press

The shoulder press engages not just shoulders, but all muscles in your arms

Consider adding them in towards the start of the workout when you’re feeling at your most fresh.

If you do the isolation moves first, you’ll find you aren’t as strong during those compound exercises and as such, see a decreased level of results.

Also keep in mind that since compound exercises are so intense, you can only perform so many per workout.

Limit yourself to around 1-2 compound moves per muscle group and you should be setting yourself up perfectly.

These are some of the main points to know and remember regarding compound exercises.

They can help you see great results when used correctly.