In a world where twenty-four hours doesn't seem to be enough in a day, multitasking is essential to keep up with the everyday demands of life. Thus, it should come as no surprise that multitasking can also assist you in getting more done at the gym. When it comes to working out in the gym, multitasking is referred to as performing compound exercises.
What Are Compound Exercises?
The term "compound exercise" refers to exercises that involve the use of several muscle groups and joints simultaneously. Unlike isolation exercises, which are exercises that only use one muscle group and one joint, compound exercises incorporate multiple muscle groups and joints.
When lifting weights, you have the option of concentrating on multiple muscle groups at the same time or concentrating on a single muscle group. Isolation exercises are those that target a single muscle group, such as the biceps, triceps, quads, deltoids, or any other muscle group. Isolation exercises are essential for increasing muscle strength, but they are most effective when combined with compound exercises. These exercises target and work a variety of muscle groups at the same time. These exercises, which use multiple muscle groups, are frequently the ones that allow you to lift heavier weights.
Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that can be performed with either dumbbells or a barbell, depending on your preference.
If you want to choose between barbells and dumbbells, then read our blog Barbells Vs Dumbells: Which Is Better For Muscle Growth? This will help you make the right choice.
Examples of Compound Exercises
There are plenty of compound exercises for you to try out at the gym using a barbell, dumbbell, or machine. Some of the major compound exercises along with the muscle used while performing it are listed below:
Deadlifts - Hamstrings, quads, glutes, calves, back, traps, core
Squats - Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, core
Lunges - Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, core
Bench Press - Pectorals, triceps, anterior deltoid, core
Chest Dips - Chest, triceps, core
Overhead Press - Deltoids, traps, triceps, core
Upright Row - Deltoids, traps, biceps
Lat Pull Down - Lats, biceps, rhomboids, posterior delts
Bent-over Row - Rhomboids, biceps, lats, posterior delts
Pull-Ups/Chin-Ups - Lats, biceps, rhomboids
We have covered Core Strength in another blog which details why it is important for muscle growth. Take a quick look at What is Core Strength, Why Is It Most Important & How To Strengthen It?
Benefits of Compound Movements
Helps in Burning More Calories
Compound exercises will put a strain on some of the largest muscle groups in your body. For these large muscle groups to continue working, they will require more energy than performing exercises that target smaller muscle groups. For example, consider comparing a deadlift and a hamstring curl; both exercises are designed to target the hamstrings. But, a deadlift will require the use of your glutes, back, biceps, shoulders, forearms, and core to be effective.
All of these muscles will require blood flow during your session, which will cause your heart rate to increase more than it would if you were only working a single muscle group. Then, during recovery, they will continue to demand more energy, which your body can obtain from food and fat stores, resulting in burning more calories throughout the day.
Provides Muscular Balance
Isolation exercises are beneficial, but you can easily overtrain some body parts compared to others, resulting in strength imbalances in the long run. Therefore, when performing large compound movements, it is vital to ensure that the largest muscle groups perform the most difficult parts of the movement and are supported by secondary muscle groups.
Consider the bench press: you are primarily engaging your pectoral muscles during the movement, but your triceps are also being worked, as is your anterior deltoid to a certain extent.
Your muscles and joints must cooperate to perform everyday movements, whereas isolation exercises are designed to target specific muscle groups only. This is why compound movements are essential for maintaining your overall strength and muscle balance while reducing certain injury risks.
These days a lot of people have minimal time outside their work to spend on fitness. If you fall into the same category and cannot devote much time to work out, compound exercises surely can come in handy. It can help you work out every muscle group without performing one exercise for each group. If you do this, you can get the benefits of a full-body workout in a short period, perhaps even during your lunch break.
Without compound exercises, it is impossible to achieve a perfect or ideal physique. Isolation exercises are excellent if a specific muscle is falling behind the rest of the body. Compound exercises are essential because they allow you to build all of your muscles simultaneously, resulting in a well-proportioned physique. Also, compound exercises act as an excellent stimulator for your muscles to grow as you are putting a lot of strain on your muscles to help them grow.
Compound exercises are more important than isolation exercises as they are more focused on building strength from a functional standpoint. It is expected that the movements will benefit all of your body's joints and your bones. This contributes to the development of stronger, more durable, and more flexible joints.
Improves Cardiovascular Ability
Compound exercise, in addition to strengthening your skeletal muscles, has the added benefit of improving your cardiovascular strength.
To improve your cardiovascular ability, you must train your heart to pump more and more blood throughout your entire body. As a result, any exercise that raises your heart rate helps to strengthen your heart muscles, which in turn helps to improve your cardiovascular ability.
The Bottom Line
Compound exercises are a great way to promote strength balance in your body while also burning more calories. They are also an efficient and effective way to make the most of your gym time to maximize results. However, it is critical to maintain proper form while performing any compound exercise; if you are unsure how to perform it correctly, consult with a trainer or fitness professional at your gym for guidance. They can instruct you on proper technique so that you avoid injury and make steady progress over time.
Gentil, P., Soares, S., & Bottaro, M. (2015). Single vs Multi-Joint Resistance Exercises: Effects on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 6(1). https://doi.org/10.5812/asjsm.24057
Paoli, A., Gentil, P., Moro, T., Marcolin, G., & Bianco, A. (2017). Resistance Training with Single vs Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength. Frontiers in Physiology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2017.01105
Hammerová, T., Chlápek, J., Králová, T., Vodička, T., Hlavoňová, Z., & Ondráček, J. (2020). Transfer of Muscle Strength Between Single-Joint and Multi-Joint Exercises for Lower Limbs. Studia Sportiva, 14(1), 23–32. https://doi.org/10.5817/sts2020-1-3