Work Out Twice as Fast with These 10 Compound Exercises


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  37 comments   :  67,587 Views

Compound exercises are those exercises that work multiple muscles or muscle groups around multiple joints such as a squat. Isolation exercises, on the other hand, work a single muscle or muscle group around a single joint such as a bicep curl. Compound exercises are quite effective when one is short on time and looking to target as many muscles in the least amount of time. And because these types of exercises allow us to lift heavier weights and because they mimic real-life activities, they can help make our daily activities easier, while lessening risk for injury when participating in sports.

Remember, as with any workout, technique when doing any of these exercises is essential so that you get the most benefit of your time. It is better to do fewer repetitions with good form than doing lots of repetitions with poor form. And don't forget to do a warm-up before you start doing any of these exercises.

Squat Dip

Squats on Leg Press Machine

Kettlebell Squat and Swing

Stiff-Legged Dead Lift

Reverse Lunge with Torso Twist

Forward Lunge with Elbow Extension

Step-Up Overhead Press


Bench Press with Dumbbells

Stability Ball Push-Up

Do you do compound exercises when strength training? If so, what is your favorite exercise?

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    Thank you - 1/1/2018   12:42:10 AM
  • 36
    How annoying! Links to blank pages or to something else, all sorts of pop-ups blocking the exercise pix or descriptions, one with only partial pictures. Why aren't you using Spark exercise links, since they are designed well & don't disappear? I found it pretty useless. - 12/3/2017   9:10:20 PM
  • 35
    thanks - 11/27/2017   1:18:55 AM
    thanks - 7/25/2017   7:03:08 AM
  • 33
    I was looking for something to incorporate or replace tabata with little or no impact. I found it in compound exercises. - 7/19/2016   9:10:07 PM
  • 32
    that link for the kettlebell squat is about the most useless link - it goes to Prevention and they wouldn't simply show the story. It went to a page with gobs of links to other stories. I tried searching for "kettlebell squat" and it came up with like 50 pages of suggested links, in alphabetical order... so I just closed it up. If they don't appreciate link referrals, I'm sure not going to bother them just to be harassed into buying a subscription (and there are reasons why I let the subscriptions lapse too.). Better to use links where the companies actually will keep the link available.
    - 5/4/2016   6:03:00 PM
  • 31
    I love the kettlebell swing with a squat, call me crazy but it's fun! - 4/25/2013   9:31:43 AM
  • 30
    My trainer always has me do compound exercises. I never get to do plain old squats or crunches. There is always something going on with my arms and a weight at the same time. They are very challenging and keep my heart rate up. She also has me do them in circuits, so my sessions are accomplishing a lot. - 3/29/2011   9:07:19 AM
  • 29
    These exercises look great can't wait to try them! - 1/17/2011   7:41:08 PM
  • 28
    Nancy, do you ALWAYS write the best blogs? I mean, seriously! Lately, every single one I've really learned a lot from, I look up and realize it is YOU who wrote it! - 1/14/2011   7:39:54 AM
  • 27
    These are the kind of exercises I try to do anyway, but now I have even more reason to choose them over others. :) Thanks for the info! - 1/13/2011   10:48:00 PM
  • 26
    Love to do compound exercises - try this one.... Using dumbells... Straight leg dead lift (up) to a row, straighten up, to bicep curl (up), to shoulder press then 2nd half of the curl (down), to finish the dead lift (down). - 1/13/2011   6:29:05 PM
  • 25
    I like treadmill and water aerobics - 1/13/2011   3:43:01 PM
  • 24
    "Compound exercises are those exercises that work multiple muscles
    or muscle groups around multiple joints such as a squat".This definition is correct however some of these exercises are combination exercises, when you do a squat with a triceps extension that is a combination exercise not a compound exercise. The kettlebell swing is a compound exercise however the shown t4chnique is not proper a kettlebell swing starts in the down position, the emphasis of the exercise is to explode from the4 down position nd use that explosion to cause the kettlebell to swing upward, the arms should not be used to swing the kettlebell. The squat dip is normally called a Romanian split squat. I think that using proper terminology is important in order to ensure that everyone is saying the same thing and communicating. - 1/13/2011   12:04:34 PM
  • 23
    Push ups ! Dead lifts ! Bent over rows ! - 1/13/2011   11:03:09 AM
  • 22
    I love these exercises. You get more bang to your workout! - 1/13/2011   10:49:24 AM
  • 21
    I love these exercises. You get more bang to your workout! - 1/13/2011   10:49:15 AM
  • RDOWE53
    Lunges are my favorites front, back, side ,done with any upper body exercise i can come up with ... keeps it interesting and fun.... - 1/13/2011   9:58:35 AM
    My favourite compound exercise: Using hand weights, do a bicep curl as you go into a squat, then raise the weights overhead as you do a calf raise. Talk about multi-tasking! - 1/13/2011   9:38:51 AM
  • 18
    I do compound movements when possible and Jillian Michaels' 30-day shred has some great ones! - 1/13/2011   8:54:18 AM
  • 17
    I'm happy whenever a kettlebell is in my hands! - 1/13/2011   8:53:35 AM
  • 16
    This is what keeps me motivated, Thanks!! - 1/13/2011   8:43:06 AM
  • 15
    I do a couple of these but they all look like great exercises. I saved this one as a favorite! Thanks Coach Nancy! - 1/13/2011   7:54:27 AM
  • 14
    Thanks for the tips! - 1/13/2011   7:22:24 AM
  • 13
    thanks for giving us more and more ways to incorporate ST into our daily lives - 1/13/2011   5:24:20 AM
  • 12
    i have not exercised regularly in a long time because I always think I am too busy. these tips are helpful and i will go back to exercise. - 1/13/2011   4:47:59 AM
  • 11
    I love Kettlebells. - 1/13/2011   12:43:36 AM
  • 10
    I do a couple of these. Think I will try some of the other ones. - 1/13/2011   12:01:57 AM
  • 9
    I have done some of these b/4. I need to get back into doing them again. Thanks for the reminder. - 1/12/2011   11:48:35 PM
  • 8
    Another reason to keep doing those dreaded squats! - 1/12/2011   10:50:12 PM
  • 7
    I'm just starting out after 20 years of inactivity. I want to try these exercises with my strength training. - 1/12/2011   9:36:44 PM
  • 6
    Do you do compound exercises when strength training? If so, what is your favorite exercise?

    Me: I love the Step Up with Bicep Curl (weighted) - 1/12/2011   8:56:36 PM
  • 5
    Great blog thanks - 1/12/2011   7:36:16 PM
    I really need to add more strength training!!! - 1/12/2011   7:00:26 PM
  • 3
    Bench press with dumbbells! - 1/12/2011   6:27:28 PM
  • 2
    I'm no expert but I think I do compound exercises when I do Jackie Warner's Total Body Circuit. I know we do a squat kick. - 1/12/2011   5:28:08 PM
  • 1
    Who knew....but i have beend doing compound exercises for most of my strength training routine balanced with a few single muscle exercises. - 1/12/2011   4:29:32 PM

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