5 Benefits of Compound Movements, and Why We Love Them

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Adding compound movements to your training routine is an excellent call if you want to build muscle mass and burn some of that unwanted fat faster — especially if you have limited time to get your sweat sesh in. If you're new to compound movements, this could be a game-changer in your fitness journey. Best yet, you can get even more from compound movements than just gains and a well-sculpted physique. There are so many benefits of compound movements.

Let's back up for a moment.

What Are Compound Movements?

Movements are generally classified as two types: isolated and compound. Isolation exercises are movements that only target a specific joint or muscle group. Bicep curls, leg extensions, and calf raises are examples of isolation movements.

Isolation exercises are used to target and strengthen specific muscles that don’t get a lot of attention otherwise. They are often prescribed for physical therapy when you need to strengthen a specific muscle group after an injury.

loading weight onto a bar

Compound exercises, on the other hand, are multi-joint movements and involve a number of muscle groups. Here are some examples of compound exercises.

Squats

When you squat, you’re engaging a number of muscles in your legs, like your calves, quadriceps, and hamstrings. It doesn't end there, though. Squats also require your glutes, hips, and core.

This compound exercise promotes body-wide muscle building.

Bench Press

This compound exercise is designed to develop your upper body strength. It allows you to target not just your chest, but also your front shoulders, triceps, biceps, lats, and even quads.

man doing bench press

Deadlifts

Another excellent compound movement is deadlifts. This exercise works your glutes, quads, inner thighs, hamstrings, lower back muscles, and your trapezius muscles.

The Benefits of Compound Movements

Now, why should you make a point of including compound movements in your programming?

1. You Get More Done in Less Time

Compound movements allow you to work a number of muscle groups simultaneously, which means results can be achieved in a shorter period of time. This does not mean compound movements are superior to isolation exercises. Each exercise classification has their own strengths.

What’s good about compound movements, however, is you can target more muscle groups faster than you would with isolated movements. If you’re pressed for time, then, it’s best to work on your compound movements.

2. Compound Movements Are Functional

Another great thing about compound movements is they’re more functional. Most of your daily physical activities require the use of a number of joints and muscle groups, like when you’re getting out of your car, carrying your child, lifting a heavy bag of groceries, or moving your couch.

woman carrying child in the woods

Compound exercises mimic the movements you make every day. Doing exercises that simulate the motions you do and utilize the muscles you use when you’re executing everyday activities can help you perform your normal tasks with ease. When you push your muscles to work together during your workout, and if you do it properly and regularly, it will improve coordination.

Compound exercises will help your body get accustomed to moving around and as a result, you can easily and efficiently utilize your muscles for completing tasks and performing a variety of activities while reducing the risk of injury.

3. They Burn More Calories

Compound movements make use of the biggest muscles and muscle groups in your body. They also engage more than one muscle group at a time, combine lower body movements with upper body movements, and help increase your heart rate.

This means the exercise will require more energy and as a result, will enable you to burn more calories. Whether your goal is to lose fat or gain muscle mass, incorporating compound movements into your exercise routine will help.

man back squatting

4. They Promote Muscular Balance

When you do isolation exercises, there is a tendency to overtrain certain areas: focusing too much on your chest and neglecting to engage your back, working your triceps and missing out on your biceps, favoring your upper body and ignoring your lower body, and so on.

Prioritizing one muscle group over another will have a negative effect on your performance. All muscles must perform and grow in harmony. Following a fitness program that is built on compound exercises can help prevent muscle imbalance (1).

5. They Provide Cardiovascular Benefits

Aside from building muscles, compound movements have the added benefit of increasing your heart rate so your body can properly move blood and oxygen to your muscles.

When you utilize compound movements in your gym programming, you make the most out of your time and will improve your overall fitness.

For added protection when doing your exercises and to prevent injury, you can make use of these products.

Pressurized Weightlifting Belt

Pressurized weightlifting belts are excellent not only to help protect your back while doing squats and deadlifts, but also help you lift more. Belts act as a ribcage for your lower torso, keeping your core stabilized and aligned, and helping you maintain a proper and safe position.

pressurized weightlifting belt

A belt will also teach you how to utilize your breathing. When you tighten a belt, the idea is to take a deep breath in just before you lift, expand your stomach, and push against the belt. This is actually how you should be breathing with or without this gear; but in the case of the former, it will teach you how to breathe through your lifts to maximize performance.

Compression Knee Padded Sleeves

Most workout routines put pressure on your knees. Knee sleeves promote an increase in blood flow, keep the joints warm, and reduce pain and swelling. Compression knee padded sleeves will keep your knees stable and provide an added layer of protection to prevent the risk of injury and soreness.

Knee sleeves are especially helpful when you’re running, jumping, and doing a number of compound exercises like squats. 

Resistance Loop Bands

Resistance loop bands are of excellent use for athletes of all levels because they create added tension without the use of weight. Utilize them for exercises like squats by placing them around your legs just above or below your knees. Doing so will require you to work harder to push your knees out as you squat, giving your booty a better workout and strengthening your form overall.

resistance loop bands 

References

  1. “A Study of Effect of the Compound Physical Activity Therapy on Muscular Strength in Obese Women”, Hwang-Bo Kak, et. al., September 20, 2013.

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