Why should you perform compound movements in your weekly routine? What is a compound exercise? Why are they great to use in your routine? How many of you already perform compound exercises? Compound exercises are excellent for building muscle, strength, boosting your metabolism and targeting areas for fat loss. Sound too good to be true? Well, let's look into it further.
By definition, a compound exercise is where an exercise works across 2 or more joints in the body. Compound exercises are very effective because they target many different muscles in one exercise. The more muscles that are contracting and working per exercise, the more calories you will burn. The more calories you burn, the more weight you could lose. On the other hand, with more muscles contracting during the exercise, they could also develop and grow stronger and thicker. If you have stronger working muscles, your metabolism will be better, and again, you could burn more calories and lose more weight. So whether you are trying to achieve fat loss or muscle hypertrophy, compound exercises are a must. It may come as no surprise that by performing these compound exercises, you are going to exert more energy and you could reach fatigue a lot quicker. For this reason, performing these types of exercises are best to do when you are fresh and this would be at the start of your workout. While performing them midway or even at the end of your workout is still ok, I personally feel this could result in risk of injury due to being tired and therefore slipping up on form. You all know how I feel about form and technique, so I really would stick to doing these at the start of your workout, especially if this is something new you are going to implement into your workout.
So now you know what a compound exercise means, it's time to find out what exercises fall into the 'compound' bracket. Here is a list of some, and again, in my opinion you should be performing as many as you can in your different workouts. It goes without saying, if you have injuries, you will need to assess and ask your trainer whether you can perform them. If you are injury free, I suggest you read on.. So, here goes, Squats, Deadlifts, Bent Over Rows, Bench Press, Cleans, Clean and Jerks are all great compound movements that place a huge physical strain on your body, (in a good way). Expanding on these exercises you can see that they all require many muscles to perform, and they operate over 2 or more joints. For instance a squat, primarily targets the muscles in your quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and gastrocnemius. You are working more than 10 muscles alone in this one exercise, however, by squatting you will also work your core, your adductors and back muscles (especially the lower back.) Your muscles aren't the only thing being worked during this exercise, your ligaments, cartilage and tendons are also being tested and will grow stronger. A squat works over your knee joints and hip joints, making it a great compound exercise to perform. Like I mentioned earlier, a compound exercise can also burn a massive amount of calories, making it great for someone who wants to achieve weight loss. A squat is perfect for this goal, and with it working so many muscles in your body you can see why. This is definitely a must do exercise, just like the others. As this exercise is very complex, I feel that before you go in and perform this yourself, you should be shown by someone with good form, like a trainer in the gym.
From a training point of view, in my personal opinion I think by performing at least 1 compound exercise per workout routine is ideal. You may have to adjust this depending on how often you exercise and how you feel once you have performed these exercises. As I mentioned above, it is best to do these exercises when you are most fresh, ideally at the start of your workout. By adding these exercises to your workout you may need more time to recover and more energy to perform the exercises. To give you more energy, a supplement like creatine or a BCAA product is great to give you that edge and give your muscles the endurance they need to carry on. The last thing you want is to perform this type of exercise and then have nothing left in the tank to carry on. A post workout protein shake is also a must, your muscles will fully break down during performance of these exercises, and as a result of this, you need to recover and give the muscles what they need. Be sure to consume a protein shake quickly after your workouts.
Please feel free to comment and tell me how you get on. If weight loss, muscle gain and or muscle strength is a goal of yours, without a doubt, you need to perform these exercises and I would love to hear how they are helping you on your journey in achieving your goals.