“Compound lifts” is a term commonly used in the fitness space. There’s often an assumption that people will already know exactly what this means and why they should be paying attention to these lifts.
We’re going to cover all of this so you leave this post confident in your understanding of what compound lifts are, and even with a few to try out.
What are compound lifts?
Compound = made up of two or more parts.
Compound lifts are exercises that work more than one muscle group at the same time. So your back and your legs, your arms and your chest. In contrast, isolation exercises work just one muscle group, so, only your arms or only your legs.
These movements are performed in conjunction with free weights, and this adds a whole other range of benefits.
Why should I use compound lifts?
The great thing about using more than one muscle group at the same time is that it makes your workouts more efficient. Work your back and your legs at the same time rather than separately to save time, and help keep your strength balanced. You can even make up a full-body workout using just a handful of compound exercises. Take a look at the section below for more information on that.
On the other hand, compound lifts tend to require more flexibility. Think good hip mobility for squats. You may want to include some mobility work to improve your compound lifts over time, and as always ensure you warm up well at the start of your workout.
Likewise, you can improve your coordination. Using multiple muscle groups for one lift means they have to work with your joints and tendons to all move as one to successfully complete the exercise. Because of this, you’ll see big improvements in your coordination, balance, and movement efficiency.
Compound lifts tend to mimic real life. As you gain strength you’ll find things like carrying boxes easier and safer as your body gets used to working as one to perform a task.
It’s also easier to continually progress with compound lifts, especially as a beginner. You’ll be able to increase the weight you use faster, a great way to motivate yourself and a nice boost of confidence.
Compound lifts to try
You are likely familiar with these exercises if you’ve spent some time looking up workout plans or training in a gym. These are often considered the foundations of weight lifting, and all together make up a really solid starting programme, especially if you’re aiming to build overall strength.
The typical upper/lower body split works here too. Use the upper body movements in one day of training, and the lower body movements in another. Add in a few other exercises that you like and you’ve got a whole workout structure there.
- Bench Press
- Overhead shoulder press
- Bent over row
Compound movements should be performed three to four times per week. Two upper and two lower-body days work great, as this provides time for you to recover in between and even enjoy an active rest day, if you desire.
If you’re after some guidance on how to perform any of these exercises, speak to a member of staff next time you’re in the gym.
Need support with an exercise programme or don’t know where to start? You can claim a free one-day pass at an Anytime Fitness gym and speak to one of our friendly and expert team about your health goals.