Compound movements are weightlifting exercises that can produce the biggest overall gains in muscle-building and overall health. These “Kings” of the gym are what Olympic weightlifters use to maximize their power and athletic performance.
Though you don’t have to be a professional powerlifter, your body will gain strength, heart health, and confidence if you can master these complex exercises.
Compound exercises get their name from the fact that they are not performed in isolation. Instead of simply lifting a dumbbell up to flex your one bicep, compound exercises are the opposite: a compound of many different movements that are performed together at once.
When performed correctly, your entire body and nervous system are challenged by compound movement, therefore making them the most crucial base of any strength-building workout.
Some of the most important Compound exercises are the Deadlift, the Squat, the Pull Up, and the Bent Over Row.
If you can imagine doing a Squat with weight mounted on your back, the compound, multi-muscle activity that is needed to perform the exercise soon becomes apparent.
Your core is stabilizing your body in an upright position, your heart and lungs are working overtime due to the stress of the movement, your feet are maintaining the balance of your lower body, and the major muscle groups of your legs (quads, hamstrings, and glutes) are all lowering and raising the weight.
It's easy to get tapped out doing this, but you’ll find your strength gains to improve by leaps and bounds doing these kinds of movements.
However, because they test so many different areas of the body at once: arms, core, back, legs and balance, Compound movements must be first practiced with light dumbbells or simply your own body weight before progressing.
Get used to the complete motion and have a spotter or gym employee assist you before adding kettlebells or barbells into your routine. The benefits can be fantastic if performed correctly, but the possibility of injury is also enhanced if your form is sloppy.
Joel Runyon is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE® - performance lifestyle brand encompassing performance apparel & formulas, IMPOSSIBLE Fitness® programs, and a philanthropy arm. An endurance athlete and entrepreneur - he's also the creator of MoveWellApp and owns Ultimate Meal Plans. Find out what next challenge Joel is crossing off his impossible list here.