Compound exercises are the key to a powerful, capable body. Ever felt a tweak in your back, squatting to pick up a heavy box on moving day? That’s what we’re talking about.
It takes strong legs to squat down and pick up a box full of books; your arms and shoulders work overtime to lift furniture into the van, and a solid core helps prevent slumped posture while you drive to your new home.
Beyond aesthetics, compound exercises are fundamental because they help us perform everyday tasks. All that without pulling a muscle, or worse – injuring ourselves.
Put simply, a compound exercise is any movement performed by engaging more than one muscle group at the same time. Progressive training with compound exercises builds up those muscle groups, which is the key to functional fitness.
Types of compound exercises include lunges, squats, deadlifts, dips, push-ups, pull-ups, bench presses, jump rope, shoulder presses, kettlebell swing, step-ups, wall sits, side planks, weighted carries, and dumbbell overhead presses. Plenty to keep you from plateauing with boredom, then.
Compound exercises are the opposite of isolation exercises. Take, for example, the infamous ‘leg day’, where you focus solely on, say, your quads for one session. This works for one specific muscle group at one time. A compound movement will engage multiple: just one squat will use your quads. But it’ll also use your core, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and calf muscles.
For the time-short, compound exercises are ideal. In just half an hour, you can bring hundreds of muscles into your training, boosting calorie burn, strength, power, and functional fitness, all in one session.
Because these exercises force multiple muscles to work together simultaneously, they train the body to grow strength and stability holistically. More oxygen is required to utilise more muscle tissue, which also allows you to burn more calories in less time.
At its most basic, compound exercises work because you’re pushing, pulling, and squatting against the forces of gravity using large portions of your body. Compared to isolation exercises, you can get more bang for your buck in a shorter space of time.
The bottom line is this: compound training helps you get stronger, burn fat and build more muscle. They enable you to lift heavier, move more efficiently, and progress in a shorter space of time than isolation exercises. Whether you’re weight-training or prepping for a half-marathon, compound exercises allow you to perform all kinds of physical activities more safely.
If you want to see how multiple muscles work at the same time, and how to incorporate this into a routine, start by giving this functional full-body workout a try. Then, stop by one of our EVO clubs: we built a playground full of functional fitness equipment, where fitness is playful and purposeful — just like nature intended.