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?
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 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 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.
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.
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.