Killer Compound Exercises

September 2, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

This is a guest post from Jedd Johnson, strength coach, strongman competitor and performer and Grip competitor.  Check out his site at http://www.dieselcrew.com.

Killer Compound Exercises

Let me ask you a question.  Do you go to the gym to get serious results, or do you go to pass time, hang out, catch up on gossip, and hang out in the air conditioning?

If you go to the gym and train so that you can have a good time, chat, and just listen to the radio in the cool air, then this article isn’t for you.  Feel free to check out the next headline.

However, if you go to the gym to put in an hour or more of solid, hard work, work up a serious sweat, and put yourself through a routine with the goal of improving your physical conditioning, then you’ve come to the right place.  You’re my kind of guy and I want to help you out.

I know that you are hitting it hard in the gym, never missing the workout, and I want to give you a handful of gold nuggets that are going to help you be more productive.

The fact is, many of the hardest workers in the gym make the mistake of incorporating an over-abundance of isolation movements.

Now, I’ll admit, I love hitting dumbbell curls as much as anyone, but the problem with dumbbell curls, tricep push-downs, leg curls, and leg extensions is that they are isolation movements, meaning they isolate one muscle group and have activity at one joint.

THE KEY TO BUILDING SERIOUS MUSCLE IS COMPOUND MOVEMENTS.

Compound movements are just the opposite of isolation movements in that they involve multiple muscle groups all at the same time.  These movements are effective at producing natural testosterone in your body, which means you are going to be out-growing your tee shirts in no time.

How do you know you’re working a Compound Movement?  The detail that sets compound movements apart from other lifts is movement over multiple joints.  This movement over multiple joints is what begins to involve more musculature into the lift, making you work harder, causing a spike in your testosterone production, and resulting in more muscle growth on your body.

Check out this illustration for an easy way to tell isolation movements apart from compound movements.

Side Lateral Raise

Side lateral raises
Side lateral raises

The Side Lateral Raise is a common exercise for generating a monstrous set of shoulders.  With the Side Lateral Raise, there is movement at one joint, the shoulder.  The muscles involved in the movement are the deltoids, but aside from them, not much musculature is taxed in the movement.

Standing Military Press

standing military press
The Standing Military Press is another common shoulder exercise, but in this case, there is movement involved at the shoulder, and at the elbow.  Throw in the fact that you are standing, and this requires even more coordination and muscular involvement, but even if you perform this lift seated, you will still involve more muscle than Side Laterals alone.

Now that you understand the concept of compound exercises, it’s time to know which ones to put into your routine.  The following three exercises are what I call the Killer Compound Exercises.  These lifts NEED to be in your weekly routine starting now.  You need to look at where you can start implementing them starting this week.

Back Squats

back squats
The Back Squat should be one pillar of your compound movement training.  It is used mainly as a lower body movement, but when done properly, there is tension created throughout the entire body.

When you do these, make sure you remember to get down to parallel or below.  Quarter squats are not going to do anything for you except make you lose cool points.

The Workout:  Form is very important with Back Squats and since they involve so much musculature, your form can break down easily, especially if you are not used to doing them.  You don’t want to bring about an injury from poor form, so stick with singles, doubles and triples with the Back Squat.  Because I keep the reps lower, I usually hit several warm-up sets with sub-maximal weights and then do 5 work sets.  I hit Back Squats every week, usually on Sunday or Monday, or whenever my training cycle starts over.

Dead lift

Dead lifts

Also considered a lower body movement, the Deadlift hit the legs and lower back well, as well as the lats, rhomboids, erectors, and traps.  This movement is great for targeting huge masses of muscle, even causing tension to be produced in the shoulders and arms.  Your hand strength will be taxed with this one as well, so make sure to get your grip on!

The Workout:  Again, Deadlift form is important to get the most out of this exercise.  You should feel every bit of muscle in your body tensing up as you pull the bar off the floor to the lockout position.  When performing the deadlift, I like to get warmed up really well and then work singles.  I also like to work triples for speed, but I don’t usually go up much higher than 3 reps per set.  I like 5 work sets for the Deadlift as well.  After that, my form usually begins to go.

Clean and Press
clean and press

Pulling an object from the floor and pushing overhead is plain and simple a brute strength movement.  It also involves a ton of musculature to perform and should be included in your program if you are truly serious about getting big and strong.

For the Clean and Press, you can use the bar that is in your gym, or an odd object, like keg or sandbag.

As always with compound movements, you must pay attention to your form so that you can do more reps and generate more testosterone and make more muscle.

The three lifts above are what I consider staples of my routine.  I have done them for years and I plan on doing them for years to come.  These full body movements will make a huge difference in your training.  Start taking your before photos now, because in 16 weeks you are going to look like a completely different person.

In addition to these three core lifts, for every muscle group, there is a good example of a compound movement to fit the need.  For as hard as you work in the gym, you should make sure these lifts are in your cycle as well to get the most out of the time you are putting in the gym.  Here they are:

  • Quads – Lunges
  • Hamstrings – Romanian Deadlifts
  • Biceps – Power Curls
  • Triceps – Close Grip Bench Press
  • Upper Back – Pull-ups
  • Lower Back – Deadlifts
  • Chest – Bench Press
  • Shoulders – Military Press

I want to know what you think about these movements once you try them out, so please leave a comment here, or come check out my website, http://www.DieselCrew.com.  We train for and compete in Powerlifting, Strongman and Grip competitions.  We have tons of articles and videos up as well as free give-aways and newsletter, so please feel free to come check us out.

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