What is a Compound Exercise?

Compound exercises are essential in any serious strength training routine. Unlike isolation exercises that work only one muscle group at a time, compound exercises engage multiple muscle groups, making them a highly efficient way to build strength and improve overall fitness. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into what is a compound exercise, their benefits, how to perform them correctly, and a few popular examples of compound exercises that you can add to your fitness routine.

what is a compound exercise

What are compound exercises? Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that involve the use of more than one muscle group at a time. These exercises require the coordination of several muscle groups, making them more complex than isolation exercises.

Compound exercises work several muscle groups and joints simultaneously, making them a more functional and effective form of training.

Some examples of compound exercises include deadlifts, squats, lunges, bench presses, pull-ups, and rows. These exercises engage the use of multiple muscle groups, and as a result, they help build strength and muscle mass more effectively than isolation exercises.

Benefits of Compound Exercises

There are several benefits of including compound exercises in your workout routine:

  1. More Efficient Workout

Since compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at once, they are an efficient way to get a full-body workout. This means that you can get a complete workout quicker than if you were to perform isolation exercises targeting each muscle group individually.

2. Better Strength and Muscle Development

Compound exercises are excellent for building strength and muscle mass. Since they engage multiple muscle groups, they stimulate more muscle fibers than isolation exercises, leading to better overall strength and muscle development.

3. Improved Functionality

Compound exercises mimic natural movements, making them more functional. For instance, a squat mimics the motion of sitting down and standing up, which is a common movement in everyday life. By incorporating compound exercises into your fitness routine, you can improve your overall functional fitness, making everyday movements easier and more efficient.

4. Increased Calorie Burn

Compound exercises require more energy to perform than isolation exercises, leading to increased calorie burn during and after the workout. This makes compound exercises a great option for those looking to burn more calories and lose weight.

How to Perform Compound Exercises Correctly

While compound exercises offer several benefits, performing them correctly is essential to prevent injury and get the most out of your workout. Here are some tips to perform compound exercises correctly:

  1. Warm-up

Before you start any workout, it’s essential to warm up correctly to prepare your body for the exercise. You can do a few minutes of cardio, such as jumping jacks or jogging, to increase your heart rate and warm up your muscles.

2. Start with a light weight

When performing compound exercises, it’s best to start with a light weight. Then gradually increase the weight resistance as you become more comfortable with the exercise. Maintaining proper form will help prevent injury.

3. Keep your form correct

Maintaining proper form is crucial when performing compound exercises. Make sure to always keep your back straight, engage your core, and use a weight that allows proper form throughout the exercise.

 4. Breathe correctly

Breathing correctly is essential when performing compound exercises. Brerath in as you lower the weight and breath out as you lift. This will help you maintain oxygen circulation during lifts.

Popular Compound Exercises

Here are a few popular compound exercises that you can add to your workout routine:

  1. Squats

Squats are a common compound exercise that targets the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. When perfoming a squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, lower your body as if you were sitting down, and push back up to a standing position.

2. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are a compound exercise targeting the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. To perform a deadlift, you should stand with your feet about shoulder width apart, bend your knees, and lift the barbell or dumbbells from the floor using your legs and back muscles. Your back should be kept straight and lift the weight until you are standing up, then slowly lower the weight back down.

3. Bench Press

This is a compound exercise that works the chest, shoulders, and triceps. To do a bench press, lie on a bench with your feet flat on the floor, grab the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart, and slowly lower the weight to your chest, then push the weight back up to a straight-arm position.

4. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are a compound exercise that targets the back, biceps, and shoulders. To perform a pull-up, grasp a bar above your head with your hands shoulder-width apart, then pull up your body until your chin is level with or above the bar, and slowly lower your body back down.

5. Lunges

Lunges are a compound exercise that targets the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. To perform a lunge, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, step forward with one foot, bend your knees, and lower your body until your front knee is at a 90-degree angle. Push back up to a standing position and repeat with the other leg.


Compound exercises are an excellent way to build strength, muscle mass, and overall fitness. By engaging multiple muscle groups at once, they are a more efficient and functional way to work out. Adding compound exercises into your workout routine can help you reach to your goals faster and more effectively. Remember to warm up properly, start with a light weight, maintain proper form, and breathe correctly to get the most out of your compound exercises.

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