Exercises can be classified either as compound, which are exercises that involve more than one muscle group, or isolation exercises, which are exercises that isolate a muscle group by concentrating on that one group of muscles.
For the most time-efficient workouts, compound exercises are recommended because 8-10 exercises can stimulate all the major muscles in the body and create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest time. As an added bonus, compound exercises help develop the body proportionately.
Compound exercises are movements that use multiple joints at one time. When you perform compound exercises, more muscle groups are recruited and used per exercise.
For example, a bench press is a multi-joint exercise because both the shoulder and elbow joints are working to execute the movement. In turn, the bench press works several muscle groups, including the muscles in the chest, shoulders, and triceps.
On the other hand, the biceps curl is a single-joint exercise since only the elbow joint is moving. The biceps curl only works the biceps muscle and is more of an isolated exercise.
So, when you are looking for a quality workout that hits lots of muscles, compound exercises help you do more in less time. By working several muscle groups at the same time, you can perform fewer exercises and reduce the total amount of time you spend in the gym.
Compound exercises also increase strength and size far more effectively than single-joint, isolation exercises. This doesn’t mean that single-joint exercises are ineffective. Exercises that isolate certain muscles and muscle groups do have an important role in fitness, especially for advanced lifters. However, if your schedule calls for reduced exercise time, compound exercises are the way to go.
As an added bonus, they are more functional since virtually every movement in everyday activities, such as sitting or kneeling, and in sports like football or Cricket as we Indians love, involve moving multiple joints.
Compound Exercises For Huge Results
Afraid of looking like The Hulk? Most people do not have to worry about getting too big when training with weights, especially women, who do not naturally possess the male hormone, testosterone, to build large, bulky muscles.
For a powerful workout, consider incorporating this royal group of tried and true compound exercises into your routine to get you in shape and give you lots of energy to keep you ready to be on the go!
The king of exercises for the lower body, the squat is at the top of the list as one of the best compound exercises. The squat works all the major muscles including your butt, thighs, and calves. The squat will also strengthen your stomach and back muscles since you are using them for balance.
Lunges: Along with squats, lunges hold court at ruling lower body development. Lunges are another excellent multi-joint exercise and are particularly more functional for sports and daily activities than isolation exercises like leg extensions or leg curls. Lunges also work all your lower body muscles, abs, back, and especially shape the glutes (buttocks muscle) and hamstrings.
Bench Press:When it comes to the upper body, the good old-fashioned bench press reigns supreme. This exercise is a staple of chest development and works all the major muscles in your chest and many more muscles in your shoulders and arms.
One-Arm Dumbbell Row:At center stage to work upper and mid-back muscles and the rear head of the shoulders is the one-arm dumbbell row. It is also great at biceps and forearm development!
Shoulder Press: The overhead shoulder press is excellent for developing the shoulders, upper back, neck, and toning the back of the arms.
Abdominal Bicycle: This abdominal exercise, done on the floor, is one of the best moves to target the whole abdominal muscle, including the upper, lower, and side regions.
Make an effort to do these exercises for at least eight weeks. For optimal results and to reduce your chance for injury, have a fitness professional or your certified personal trainer to show you the proper form or refer to a good exercise book or manual to do these exercises correctly and safely.
How Many Sets Should You Do?
Generally, one set reaching muscle fatigue between 8-12 repetitions is enough. Muscle fatigue means that the last few reps should be challenging, but doesn’t compromise your form. These last few repetitions are what will create a training effect and make changes in the muscle in the shortest period of time.
Extra sets may add some more benefits, but one is generally plenty to see results, especially if you are just starting a fitness routine.
In the beginning, don’t worry if it takes a few workouts to get the feel for the right weight. Learning how to perform the exercises properly is your main objective.
Use this time to create good habits – it beats having to go back later and correct bad ones. As you progress and you can easily reach 12 repetitions with good form, then you should consider increasing your weights for the next workout. Perform this workout on alternating days like Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to give your muscles a chance to rest and recover.
Another way to keep stimulating your muscles is to occasionally change your hand position (such as wider or narrower grips), your feet position (use a wider or narrower stance or keep toes pointed straight ahead or pointed out) or change your body angle (try an incline bench press instead of a flat bench press). This also helps to keep your program interesting and prevent staleness in your routine.
Compound exercises are proven, time-efficient muscle builders. Before you lift, don’t forget to warm up your muscles by performing a few minutes of walking on the treadmill or simply doing some jumping jacks. And yes, you still have to stretch after you exercise!
Warming Up And Cooling Down
Warming up and cool down activities should be an essential part of any exercise program. The purpose of warming up is to prepare the body for the conditioning or stimulus of the exercise session by increasing blood flow to the heart and to the exercising muscles which serves to warm up and loosen up muscles.
Skipping the warm-up before starting to exercise can limit muscle function and increase the risk of injury. Taking a few minutes to prep the muscles for the extra demands of exercise can save a lot of heartaches, or injuries, later.
Too often people head straight to the shower after their last rep and neglect to properly cool down. However, cooling down is a very important part of the exercise process. Cooling down will return the body to pre-exercise conditions and reduce muscle soreness.
The cool-down assures that venous return to the heart is maintained. This is important because much of the blood was previously going to the working muscles. Take the time to lower your heart rate through walking at a slow pace for about five minutes and then perform stretches.
Stretching improves flexibility, helps to disperse lactic acid that can build up during the exercise session (so you are less sore) and helps to prepare the body for the next workout. An often neglected fitness component is stretching. That neglect is regrettable, because regular stretching helps to elongate muscles and helps them to maintain a wide range of motion.
Stretching should be felt in the muscle, not in the joint. Move into the stretch just until you can feel muscle stretch, and hold this position for about 10-20 seconds. Pain is a signal that something is wrong, so if it hurts or if you feel pain in the joint, stop and reposition yourself in a more comfortable position.
So, the next time you are tempted to back out of your workout because you are pressed for time, remember you can work smarter, not longer, by taking advantage of these compound exercises.
Combined with plenty of sleep, clean eating principles, and a positive attitude, you will see huge improvements in your fitness level!!