If you’ve ever been to a gym, you’ve undoubtedly come across many people doing all sorts of exercises: bench press, bicep curls, squats, tricep extensions, and more.
At first glance, all exercises seem to work for a specific outcome: to help you get fitter and stronger.
But, underneath the seemingly similar outer layer, not all exercises are created equal.
Today, we’ll go over one specific type of exercise and the benefits they offer: compound movements.
What Are Compound Exercises?
Compound exercises, also known as multi-joint movements, involve several muscle groups at the same time. Typically, one muscle group serves as the primary mover, and several others assist.
For example, our quad muscles are the primary muscle group that works during the squat, as they work on knee extension. But, muscle groups like our calves, hamstrings, adductors, and glutes also support leg stability and power output. What’s more, the entire upper body helps support you and keep you stable as you squat.
The Top 5 Benefits of Compound Exercises
- They improve intermuscular coordination
One of the most profound benefits of compound exercises is that they teach our muscles how to work together seamlessly.
Consider, for example, an isolation exercise such as the bicep curl. Sure, it’s good for bicep growth, but you don’t involve other muscles, and you don’t teach your biceps how to work together with other muscles.
Now, consider the chin-up. It’s a compound exercise that also trains your biceps, but it also involves your shoulders, back, core, and lower body. It teaches all of these muscle groups how to work together.
- They are great for strength and power
A distinct advantage of compound exercises is the fact that they help us build more muscle and strength. The reason for that is simple: these exercises recruit multiple muscle groups, which allows you to train with heavier weights and make more noticeable progress.
For example, it’s not uncommon for a serious trainee to develop a bench press in the 200, 300, and even 400-lb. range. But, if that same trainee were only to do an isolation movement like chest flyes, they would never be able to go past 40-70 lbs. while still maintaining good form.
- They make for faster and more efficient training
Instead of training one muscle group at a time, compound lifts allow you to train them at once and have much quicker workouts if you don’t have a lot of time.
For example, if you want to have a full-body workout but don’t have much time, you can do a few sets of deadlifts, squats, and bench press and train most of the major muscle groups in your body.
- They can benefit sports performance
Professional athletes often include compound exercises into their training precisely because they improve their performance and do better in their sport.
For example, contact sports like football require outstanding balance, stability, and whole-body strength to overcome opponents, stand your ground, and perform sport-specific movements like throwing and kicking. Exercises like the deadlift, bench press, and squat help strengthen the vital muscle groups involved in these movements and allow you to become a better athlete.