10 Surprising Benefits of Compound Exercises

Ignoring compound exercises is self sabotage if you want to stay fit

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In this post, you’ll learn about the benefits of compound exercises.

Whether you just started your fitness journey or you are a fitness enthusiast, compound exercises can be game-changing.

Let’s dive in right away.

What are compound exercises?

Compound exercises are workouts that train multiple muscle groups at the same time. 

Take as example squats. Squats work quadriceps, glutes, calves, abdominals, and hamstrings.

On the contrary, isolation exercises focus on a certain muscle group at a time. 

They are often used in rehabilitation programs after injuries when a certain part of the body needs special treatment.

More common examples of compound exercises are:

  • Squats
  • Deadlift
  • Front lunge with twist
  • Bench set-ups
  • Pullups
  • High plank and body rotation
  • Barbell deadlift

Let’s look deeper into the benefits of making compound exercises part of your workouts. 

1. Stimulate multiple muscle groups in less time

Compound exercises are more efficient because they use several muscle groups at the same time.

That means that if you have only a limited amount of time, you’d rather focus on compound exercises.

Let’s take this study as an example done by the Korean Society for Health Education. 

Researchers compared the effects of compound exercises and home-based walking exercises for 8 weeks in nursing students. 

The results showed that the compound exercise program was much more effective in decreasing the body fat percentage of the participants.

The same time spent, more results. 

Sounds good, right?

2. Improve overall body strength

Compound exercises are the most efficient training to build overall strength.

In this study, researches looked into the effect of compound physical activity on muscular strength in middle-aged obese women with over 30 percent excess body fat.

The experimental group followed a workout plan based on compound physical activity and the control group a plan based on aerobic activity. 

After 16 weeks, the results were clear. Chest, leg, and abdominal strengths were all significantly increased in the experimental group. 

For example, leg muscular strength improved 25 percent in the experimental group compared to 3 percent in the control group.

According to this, it’s recommendable that an exercise program targeting overall strength should be composed of aerobic exercise with resistance weight training.

3. Increase lean muscle

Compound exercises involve more muscle groups, allow to use a heavier load, and lead to greater muscle growth and strength.

The heavier the load, the bigger the increase in muscle mass you will experience. 

Muscles are broken down during compound exercises and the body releases more hormones. 

Therefore, you end up building more overall muscle mass than in isolation moves during the same amount of time.

4. Improves balance and coordination

Many compound exercises involve muscles of the core that act as stabilizers and help to maintain balance and stability. 

If you want to improve balance and coordination, you will need to focus on strengthening your core muscle

And compound exercises always require tightening the core to stabilize the body while performing the exercise.

5. Is a more functional training

Functional training is defined as: “Training that attempts to mimic the specific physiological demands of real-life activities.”

In other words, functional fitness exercises simulate movements you may do at home, at work, or in sports. 

Compound exercises train several muscle groups in the upper and lower body at the same time, working out the body in a more functional manner.

Take squats as an example. 

It’s a functional exercise since it trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or lift objects from the floor.

Therefore, compound exercises can prepare muscles for daily tasks in a more functional manner.

6. Train multi-joint exercises

Multiple muscles support and control several joints in the body. For example, the glutes muscles control the motion of the hip

Compound exercises like squats that move the hips in all three planes can improve how all muscles work together to produce and control force. 

This is called intermuscular coordination.

It teaches the muscles how to coordinate the firing of the motor units responsible for muscle contractions. 

Compound exercises can help improve balance and overall skills to perform movements.

7. Can burn more calories

Exercises that involve more muscle groups require more oxygen and energy to cope with the physical demand.

That means the body spends more energy during compound exercises. Higher energy expenditure means more burned calories.

And more burned calories are translated into greater capacity to reduce body fat and lose weight.

8. Allow lifting heavier loads

Lifting heavier loads requires higher strength and balance capacity.

Compound exercises involve more muscle groups and joints, which is translated into greater strength and stability, allowing you to move heavier loads. 

Some examples of compound exercises for weight lifting are:

  • Hip hinge or deadlift
  • Squat
  • Loaded carries

9. Promotes cardiovascular health

Physical activity promotes heart health. 

The heart of an athlete needs to cope with higher demands of pumping blood to keep the muscles fueled and active.

As a consequence, it becomes larger and more efficient than average.

Compound exercises that involve large amounts of muscle tissue are more challenging for the heart, and therefore, can provide greater cardiovascular benefits.

10. Can raise testosterone and growth hormone levels

When you train muscles, you do damage to the muscle fiber and you deplete their energy stores. 

In this case, the body releases growth hormone and testosterone, which assist in filling again the energy stores and repair the structural damage to the fibers. 

These hormones, in turn, help to increase muscle mass.

Compound exercises can create greater damage, which can raise higher levels of testosterone and growth hormone.

And, the development of muscle mass.

Takeaway

Compound exercises involve several muscle groups and allow you to:

  • Use your time for workouts more efficiently
  • Increase mass levels, burn more calories
  • Elevate heart rate 
  • Release greater hormones levels

Therefore, the benefits of compound exercises make them a perfect option for full-body workouts.

(Nutritionist coach and health writer)

Miriam is a certified Nutritionist and coach by ISSA and in Advanced Nutrition by Hong Kong University, and she has dedicated last decade to promote healthy lifestyles and education in nutrition. She is the author of the book series Food Wisdom under the pen name Broccoli People, in which she explains the principles of nutrition in an easy and intuitive way. You can follow her at www.broccolipeople.com.