A compound movement can be defined as:
Any exercise that engages two or more different joints to fully stimulate entire muscle groups and, indeed, multiple muscles.
Straight from the dictionary lol.
What I have learned throughout my fitness journey from trial and error is that Compound Exercises are IMPORTANT and you should consciously make an effort to target all compound exercises required for every major muscle. Why? Because when you’re doing a compound exercise you’re activating multiple muscles at once.
An example of a compound exercise is a deadlift. When doing the proper form for a deadlift you’re activating your entire back muscles, gluteus, hamstrings, and calves. You’re basically training the entire backside of your body with a deadlift, now isn’t that more effective than doing an isolated exercise such as bicep curls that only target one muscle?
Don’t get me wrong, isolating and accessory exercises such as bicep curls are important for aesthetics, but with compound exercises, you’re building muscle mass and shaping your body. You are also using more energy, targeting multiple muscles, and burning more calories.
I usually do 2-3 compound exercises followed by 4 or more isolated or “accessory/smaller exercises.”
If you want to build REAL MUSCLE MASS, you must focus on progressively overloading the weight of your compound exercises for every major muscle. I wouldn’t recommend adding more weight than you can handle unless your form is flawless. When your form is perfected and the weight gets easier, you can add more weight progressively over time. This is how you get stronger and build muscle mass over time.
I want to share a list with you guys from my favorite compound exercises.
PUSHING COMPOUND EXERCISES:
BENCH PRESS variations (incline, decline, using dumbbells, close grip, etc), SHOULDER PRESS variations (overhead barbell press, dumbbell press, behind the neck press, etc), DIPS for triceps (assisted dips are good too for beginners)
PULLING COMPOUND EXERCISES:
DEADLIFT variations ( RDL’S, sumo, conventional, deficit deadlifts), ROW variations (bent over, single arm DB, penlay, seal, chest supported rows), PULL-UPS (you can do assisted if necessary), PULL DOWNS variations (lat pulldowns, close grip pull downs)
LEG COMPOUND EXERCISES:
SQUATS variations (barbell squat, sumo, front squats, squat to press), DEADLIFT variations (same as above), LUNGE variations (walking, stationary, alternating, reverse, courtesy, etc) & STEP UPS.