There are literally hundreds of different training techniques and exercises used world-wide by millions of people to build lean muscle and add mass to your frame.
There is one “old school” form of training that all hardcore lifters always circle back to, that all bodybuilders swear by, and that is Compound Training. In this article, I’ll take you through the basics of compound lifting and why it’s so impressive.
I like to think of compound training as “old school” or better still “traditional training”. The type of training that was the staple of all bodybuilders in what’s known as the “Golden Era of Bodybuilding”, where the likes of Frank Zane, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu and Lou Ferrigno would focus on big lift on core muscle groups to add serious lean mass to their frames. In my opinion, it was this era of muscle men that put bodybuilding on the forefront of people’s minds and where compound lifting really came into its own.
The best way to think about compound lifts is to group your body by the major muscle groups and movements. For example;
You can split these exercises into two movements:
So, as you can see from in the above lists, compound lifts are very simple and straight forward; they only involve a pushing or a pulling motion against the natural laws of gravity.
If you’ve done any kind of weightlifting in the past, you’ll know the key benefit of following a compound exercise regime. Compound weight lifting allows you to lift heavier weights in a much safer manner due to their simplicity, resulting in faster, safer strength and size gains.
Another benefit, or perhaps the primary reason to do compound lifts is the fact that each compound lift recruits multiple muscle groups as opposed to a single muscle group like with isolation exercises.
As a true compound exercise involves and uses multiple muscle groups, you can use them to lift a much heavier load as opposed to an isolation movement lift like a bicep curl or tricep extension.
Putting more or increased stress on your body by lifting more with compound movement exposes your body to a much higher hormone response, thus enabling more muscle growth and leading to more and better fat burning.
With muscle and strength training, we rip and do damage to our muscle fibres – good damage – which is where your body goes into hormone response mode. Your body produces and releases increased amounts of the hormone, testosterone as well as insulin like hormones which is what helps burns fat.
These hormones are mostly released during the recovery phase when you’re resting, helping you replenish energy levels as well as repair previously ripped and damaged muscle fibres.
Why is all of this important? When you’re performing compound exercises, you’re engaging more muscles in one go, thus ripping and damaging more muscle mass and ultimately causing your body to produce and release much more testosterone than it normally would.
Bottom line: Compound exercises build more muscle and burn more fat.
I should add, that I’m not against isolation exercises. In fact, if you’re looking to focus on and develop one part of your body; arms, shoulders, chest, etc. Then isolations are the best option as they can hone in on one area, giving you the desired effect for growth one specific muscle.
Nothing defines strength and a kick-ass physique more than lean, shredded, ripped six-pack abs! This is where compound exercises can come into their own.
I’ve already made a point of saying that compound exercises involve more muscle groups in each single exercise, therefore meaning you’re working a much larger volume of your body, which also means you’re lifting much heavier weights… But what am I getting at??
By lifting more, and training harder, you’re naturally exercising at a higher tempo therefore burning more fat. Burning more fat means getting and looking more ripped, showing off shredded and tones abs!
Most, if not all compound exercises engage your core-stabilizing muscle, so even without realizing it, you’ve always got your abs in an “active” state, thus constantly putting them under pressure and working them to the max!
This is why it’s always important to ensure when you’re performing compound exercises, to keep one eye on your form. Keeping good form, forces your core-stabilizers to strengthen your trunk so you properly perform movements like bent-over rows, deadlifts or squats etc.
“Function over form”
Compound exercises can be related to real-life functional movements; therefore, this type of training will simply make your day-to-day activities….well, easier. Have you ever heard the phrase in the gym “function over form”? This is normally from the guys that are looking to boost strength, or preparing for a particular event. Well, when it comes to compound exercises, it means a lot more – it can transform your core.
Not you’ll always remember your form when you’re completing everyday “simple tasks”, like picking something off of the floor, or pulling something heavy towards you. Keep you back straight, use your legs and engage your core.
Putting it bluntly, I can’t speak highly enough of compound exercises and the impact they can have on your training and your lifestyle.
Engaging all of the major muscle in your body more often means you’re training harder and more efficiently, every time you enter the gym. Normal day-to-day activities will become easier and you’ll start building a physique that will resemble that of a Greek God!
For me, compound exercises are unique because there isn’t a defined list of what you should or shouldn’t do. If you come up with a new exercise that involves multiple muscle groups and it helps you make gains and great results….then keep doing it and tell fellow gym goers about it. It’s true what they say, “knowledge is power”.
So, if you’re thinking about changing up your training routine but not sure what to do. You can’t go wrong with introducing compound exercises into your gym workouts.