Exercise experts do not agree much, but all trainers and researchers agreed on the effectiveness of compound exercises, whether in gaining strength or building muscle mass.
And most of the research and studies “if not all” confirm that compound exercises are the best muscle-building exercises, but also the fastest.
So what is the secret that makes these exercises in particular the main focus on which all effective and powerful training programs are built?
What are compound exercises?
Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups simultaneously.
The bench press is a great example of this, as it activates many muscles of the upper body, including the chest muscles, shoulder muscles, and triceps.
It even "lightly" activates parts of the upper back and legs to stabilize the body on the bench during the exercise.
In contrast to an exercise such as flying “or lightening with dumbbells,” as some call it, which isolates the chest muscle from the shoulder muscles and the triceps.
Benefits of compound exercises
1- Build muscle in a short time
Since it activates more than one muscle, or more than one muscle group at times, this increases the total muscle mass gained.
2- Lifting heavier weights
By looking at a compound exercise such as the bench press, you will find that the shoulder and triceps muscles help your chest muscles in performing the exercise. For this reason, you can lift heavier weights compared to other exercises, such as lightening with dumbbells, for example.
3- Burning fat
Compound exercises require more effort while performing the movements because they activate a lot of muscles, and thus stimulate the body to burn more calories, including fat, to provide the energy needed for training.
4- Stimulating the body to produce more testosterone
Testosterone is a great hormone for men that not only builds muscle, but is also associated with improved cardiovascular health in men and increased cognitive function.
Research confirms that compound exercises are more effective in producing testosterone than isolation exercises. source
5- Save time in the gym
Sometimes we find ourselves busy with important matters and do not find enough time to exercise, and this problem causes the loss of months of effort.
Therefore, compound exercises are a great solution to this problem, as you can perform full body exercises in just one session, for only two or three days a week.
In no case should isolation exercises be neglected in your training program.
Yes, compound exercises are the best, but isolation exercises have an important role in building muscles, and their importance is as follows.
1- Strengthening weak and delayed muscles
Although compound exercises activate more than one muscle, not all muscles work with the same degree of strength.
To overcome this problem, it is recommended to use isolation exercises to target the delayed muscle or weak muscle more specifically.
2- The ability to perform types of retarded combinations
I mean here by different types of groups, for example:
Superset: Performing two different exercises “whether for the same muscle or for different muscles” without resting between them
Giant set: Performing several different exercises “4-5 exercises for the same muscle group without resting between them or resting for very short periods.
For example, “targeting all parts of the shoulder in the front, side and back, respectively.”
This feature is unique to isolation exercises, and you cannot vary between groups during compound exercises. Due to the great effort that requires rest after each exercise.
3- Better adjust your training program
Relying on compound exercises completely may cause neglect of some muscles that do not help in the exercise significantly.
For example, the lateral shoulder muscle should be targeted in particular.
Therefore, some isolation exercises must be included in the exercise schedule to work on these muscles individually.
The best compound exercises for each muscle
There are a lot of compound exercises, and the following list includes 10 of the best and most effective ones.
combo exercises with weights
Back squat exercise
It is not just a compound exercise, but rather a full-body exercise, as research indicates that squats activate about 200 “large and small” muscles in the body.
Basic muscles: front leg muscles - hamstrings - buttocks.
Auxiliary muscles: the back leg muscles - the lower back - the calves - even the abdomen is activated for balance.
One of the best compound exercises because it activates the entire back of the body.
The main muscles: the back leg muscles - the lumbar
Auxiliary muscles: activate most parts of the back of the body, including the “upper and lower back” – calves – back shoulder – traps
3- Rowing Bar - Bentover Row
One of the strongest back exercises and activates most of the upper parts of the back.
Core muscles: mid back
Auxiliary muscles: groin – trapezius – back shoulder – biceps – forearm
compound resistance band exercises
This exercise has several benefits in developing the entire back muscles. Try it yourself and see how your back muscles will develop
Primary muscles: the hamstring
Auxiliary muscles: most parts of the back - traps - back shoulder - biceps - forearm
5- Barbell Bench Press
sandbag compound exercises
It is one of the oldest and most popular upper body exercises, and its performance requires activating a large number of muscles. Learn more about this exercise here
Core muscles: the pectoral muscles (upper, middle and lower)
Auxiliary muscles: the front shoulder muscles - the triceps - “even the back shoulder and the legs work in order to stabilize the body and balance.”
Compound exercises - parallel
It is also known as the parallel and is considered one of the best exercises to strengthen the arms and nerves and works on several muscles at the same time.
Primary muscles: chest muscles
Auxiliary muscles: anterior shoulder and triceps
7- Standing front shoulder press - military press
arm compound workout
The best shoulder exercise ever that fully activates the different parts of the shoulder
Main muscles: front shoulder
Auxiliary muscles: the side and back shoulder – the triceps – “the back and legs also work in small degrees to achieve balance and help push.”
muscle building compounds
This exercise effectively targets the lower body, combining the benefits of both squats and deadlifts.
Basic muscles: front leg muscles - and back too
Auxiliary muscles: lumbar – lower back – calves – hamstrings
9- Barbell trapeze exercise - Shrug
As an exercise that requires lifting heavy weights, it needs to activate a large number of muscles.
Primary muscles: trapezes
Auxiliary muscles: upper back – forearm – fist – “and the back shoulder in a simple way.”
10- Bicycle Crunches
arm compound workout
Yes, compound abdominal exercise. This exercise works to strengthen more than 10 muscles
Core muscles: the lower, upper and lateral muscles at the same time
Auxiliary muscles: the lumbar region - the front and lower legs - the buttocks - and the neck muscles.
- Try to mix both compound and isolation exercises into your training program for maximum benefit
- Prioritize compound exercises.. and use isolation exercises to strengthen weak or inactive muscles in training.
Compound exercises are considered advanced exercises. Learn to perform the movements first, then increase the weights gradually to avoid injury
Do you have any questions? .. We are happy to answer all your questions in the comments
If you found the article useful, share it with your friends