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The Top 5 Compound Exercises for a Full-Body Workout

How to do more with less

Photo of a woman lifting a barbell

When it comes to a full-body workout, compound exercises are an excellent way to get the most out of your time at the gym. Not only do they engage multiple muscle groups, but they also promote overall strength, balance, and coordination. In this article, we’ll explore the top five compound exercises that you can incorporate into your workout routine to achieve a full-body workout.

What Are Compound Exercises?

Before we dive into the exercises themselves, it’s important to understand what compound exercises are. A compound exercise is any movement that engages multiple muscle groups and joints simultaneously. Unlike isolation exercises that target only one muscle group and joint at a time, compound exercises require more energy, burn more calories, and provide more functional strength.

A woman doing squats at home

1. Squats

Squats are often referred to as the “king of exercises” because they engage the largest muscle groups in the body – the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. They also require core stability, balance, and coordination. To perform a squat, start with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed slightly outward. Lower your hips back and down, keeping your chest up and your knees in line with your toes. Then, drive through your heels to return to the starting position.

A person using a trap bar

2. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are another excellent compound exercise that engages multiple muscle groups, including the hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and upper back. To perform a deadlift, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward. Bend your knees and hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back flat and your chest up. Grasp the barbell with an overhand grip and lift it off the floor by driving through your heels and extending your hips.

Overhead shot of a woman doing bench press

3. Bench Press

The bench press is a classic compound exercise that targets the chest, shoulders, and triceps. To perform a bench press, lie on your back on a bench with your feet flat on the floor. Grasp the barbell with a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower the barbell to your chest, keeping your elbows tucked in and your wrists straight. Then, press the barbell back up to the starting position, locking out your elbows at the top.

Woman doing pull ups

4. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are a challenging compound exercise that targets the back, biceps, and forearms. To perform a pull-up, grasp a pull-up bar with an overhand grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Hang from the bar with your arms fully extended and your shoulder blades retracted. Pull yourself up to the bar by engaging your back and biceps, keeping your elbows close to your body. Lower yourself back down to the starting position with control.

Woman doing overhead press

5. Overhead Press

The overhead press is a compound exercise that targets the shoulders, upper back, and triceps. To perform an overhead press, start with the barbell at shoulder height in front of your body. Grasp the barbell with a grip that is slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Press the barbell overhead, keeping your elbows close to your body and your wrists straight. Lower the barbell back down to shoulder height with control.

Conclusion

Incorporating compound exercises into your workout routine is an excellent way to achieve a full-body workout and build functional strength. The top five compound exercises discussed in this article – squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull-ups, and overhead press – engage multiple muscle groups and promote overall strength, balance, and coordination. Incorporating these exercises into your workout routine will help you achieve your fitness goals and improve your overall health and well-being.

FAQs

  1. Are compound exercises better than isolation exercises for building muscle? Compound exercises are generally considered to be more effective for building overall muscle mass and functional strength because they engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously. However, isolation exercises can also be useful for targeting specific muscle groups that may be lagging behind.
  2. Can beginners perform compound exercises? Yes, beginners can perform compound exercises. However, it’s important to start with lighter weights and focus on proper form to avoid injury.
  3. How often should I incorporate compound exercises into my workout routine? It’s recommended to incorporate compound exercises into your workout routine at least two to three times per week. However, the frequency and intensity of your workouts should be based on your individual fitness goals and physical abilities.
  4. Can I perform compound exercises at home without gym equipment? Yes, there are many compound exercises that can be performed at home without gym equipment, such as squats, lunges, push-ups, and pull-ups.
  5. What are some variations of compound exercises that I can incorporate into my workout routine? There are many variations of compound exercises that can be incorporated into your workout routine to keep things interesting and challenge your muscles in new ways. Some examples include front squats, Romanian deadlifts, incline bench press, chin-ups, and dumbbell shoulder press.

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