Build More Strength (1)

Build More Strength by Implementing Compound Movements!

Compound Movements are the unsung strength-building heroes of the weightlifting world!

Most people are unfortunately unaware of what compound lifts are, how compound lifts can benefit your health and fitness, and the proper application of compound lifts in your exercise program.

Today we are going to fix that and briefly review the benefits of turning your Leg Day into a Compound Movement Day!

What are compound lifts?

Compound lifts are weightlifting exercises that use a combination of joints and muscle groups. These compound movements are different from isolation exercises such as a bicep curl or a leg extension, which use only one joint or group of muscles.

If you are concerned about the effect of muscle building on the female body, please read our Women and Weightlifting Blog to put your mind at ease!

Some compound movements are almost replications of everyday movements with more specific technique, and other compound lifts are simply a combination of isolation movements to form a compound exercise.

For example, most referred to exercises in regard to compound lifts are:

  • Squats, an exercise that replicates standing from a seated position by activating pretty much every muscle group in the hip and legs, along with the upper back, all around the core and sometimes the shoulders depending on your squat variation.
  • Bench press, an exercise which essential combines a tricep extension with a chest fly to work nearly every muscle group in the upper body and core.
  • Deadlift, an exercise which replicates the common movement of picking up something from beneath or in front of you. A deadlift trains the entire posterior chain, the transverse abdominus and abdominals, the arms from shoulders to finger tips and a lot of the front of the leg as well!

These are also the exercises used when competing in powerlifting. Set up a complimentary consultation with a coach to work on your powerlifting technique and strength!

competing in powerlifting (1)

How can you benefit from compound lifts?

The benefits of compound lifts can be experienced by anyone at any level of fitness, from the beginners to the professionals of nearly any area of the fitness world.

Research has shown that compound lifts work your neural, mechanical, and metabolic systems. This has been proven to yield great conditioning responses because it trains the brain, body, and muscles to work even better together. That means improved balance, enhanced coordination, increased reactivity and many more perks that are important for all levels of fitness and athletic performance.

Another benefit of the multi-muscle group activation, is that you will build more overall muscle mass and strength by performing compound lifts than isolation exercises alone.

Not to mention, you are being more efficient by working more muscles in the same amount of time as an isolation exercise workout-compound lifts help you maximize your precious gym time!

Not only are you going to burn more calories during a compound lift workout, but building more muscle mass will help you speed up your BMR (basal metabolic rate) or enhance your metabolism. This means that you can burn more calories while you’re doing NOTHING!

compound exercises (1)

Here is a list of my favorite compound exercises and how I use them in a full body training routine.

  • Squats
  • Deadlifts
  • Hip Thrust
  • Hang Clean
  • Shoulder Press
  • Row
  • Bench Press

 Sample compound exercise workout

  • 3×10 -Barbell Hip Thrust
  • 3×10 Bench Press
  • 3×10 -Dumbbell Front Squats to Overhead Press
  • 3×10 -Dumbbell Deadlift to Bent Over Row
  • 3×10 -Dumbbell Single Arm Hang Clean (10 each side per set)

*Always check with your doctor before performing new activities that have the potential for injury. 

If you are concerned about your stability performing multi-joint movements, try our Butts & Guts 4 Week Exercise Program to stabilize your waist and hips!

Throughout this article I have discussed what the main three compound lifts are, along with some other exercises that are considered compound movements. I’ve also reviewed how compound lifts benefit people of all fitness levels, as well as examples of the benefits of using these exercises-I’ve even given you a compound workout to try for yourself!

I hope you find all this information useful the next time you go to the gym-I hope you look at those isolation exercises differently and work to implement more compound movements into your fitness routine!

This article was written by Krystin Rennie CPT, Strength and Conditioning Specialist of Adapted Fitness. Learn more or schedule a consultation at