HomeHealth & FitnessThe 12 Best Compound Exercises (Train Efficiently)

The 12 Best Compound Exercises (Train Efficiently)

It’s time to find the very best compound workouts for freshmen!

Compound workouts are essentially the most “bang for your buck” in relation to figuring out, so I’m tremendous excited you wish to study extra about them!

In our 1-on-1 Online Coach Program, we prioritize compound workouts when constructing exercise routines for our shoppers. We’ll clarify why right now.

Here’s what we’ll cowl:

Also, should you’re in a rush, we’ve compiled all our power and weight coaching content material into one helpful information referred to as (appropriately): Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know

Grab it free of charge whenever you be a part of the Rebellion (that’s us!) beneath:

Alright, cue the music. Let’s do that thang.

What are Compound Exercises?

These LEGO characters are on a mission to grow some muscle.

Let’s examine “compound exercises” to “isolation exercises”:

  • Compound workouts require multiple muscle group working collectively to finish the motion. This replicates the way in which your physique naturally strikes.
  • Isolation workouts roughly practice one particular muscle group. For instance, the leg extension machine focuses in your quads, so it “isolates” coaching that muscle.

Front squats can be an instance of a compound train, as a result of it engages your whole  decrease physique and core, and fairly a little bit of your higher physique too, as you carry out the motion:

Coach Staci performing the barbell front squat

As against biceps curls, which roughly simply trains your biceps:

This would be an example of an isolation exercise.

As we clarify in our Guide to Functional Fitness, at any time when attainable you wish to concentrate on compound workouts.


Because in on a regular basis life, you don’t use your muscle tissue in isolation!

When you’re putting baggage within the overhead bin, hoisting a bag of pet food from the ground, or hauling your child to mattress, you’re utilizing your muscle teams collectively. 

Just such as you would with a compound train.

Plus, because you’re utilizing a number of muscle teams directly, you’re taxing your physique extra when coaching. This can present extra environment friendly use of your time in the gym

In different phrases, why do three completely different workouts when you’ll be able to simply do one?

A classic scene from SNL

Now that we’ve obtained that out of the way in which, let’s get to figuring out.

The 5 Best Compound Exercises (Bodyweight)

Actually, you probably shouldn't waste your time with sit-ups.

1) The Push-up

The push-up is the very best train you may ever do for your self in relation to utilizing your body weight for “push muscles.”

Muscles educated with the push-up:

  • Pectoral 
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Abs

Here’s our video on how you can do a correct push-up:

Easier Variation: Knee Push-up

Rebel Leader Steve doing knee push-ups

Tougher Variation: Decline Push-up

Decline push-ups like this are a great way to progress your bodyweight exercises.

2) The Bodyweight Squat

The squat train serves a twin function – it’s the basis for constructing power AND helps construct correct mobility. If you’re going to ever do barbell squats, it’s essential to work on hitting correct depth with a body weight squat first! 

Muscles educated with the squat:

Easier Variation: Assisted Bodyweight Squat

Coach Staci showing you the an assisted bodyweight squat

Tougher Variation: Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is a great way to build muscle for women.

3) The Inverted Bodyweight Row

Until you will get your first pull-up or chin-up, body weight rows are GREAT to begin constructing your pull-muscle power.

As you get lower, like this, the row will be harder to do. Great way to progress into a pull-up.

Muscles educated with the inverted row:

  • All of your again muscle tissue (Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius)
  • Biceps
  • Forearm muscle tissue (dorsal, ventral)
  • Your grip

Easier Variation: Incline Inverted Row

A bodyweight row like this is a great "pull" exercise you can while building up strength for pull-ups.

Tougher Variation: Elevated Feet Inverted Row

Raising your feet will make rows more challenging.

4) The Pull-up and Chin-up

Once you’ll be able to assist your physique’s weight above the bar, the world turns into your playground. No power coaching routine ought to be with out pull-up or chin-up work! (Can’t do a pull-up yet? We got you.)

Muscles educated with the pull-up:

  • All of your again muscle tissue (Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius)
  • Biceps
  • Latissimus dorsi (Lats)
  • Trapezius (Traps)
  • Abs
  • Your grip

Here’s how you can carry out a correct pull-up:

Easier Variation: Negative Pull-ups

Staci jumping up to do a negative pull-up., a great movement until you can bring regular pull-ups into your circuit.

Tougher Variation: Weighted Pull-ups

A weighted pull-up is great for progressive overload on your muscles.

5) The Bodyweight Dip

As you begin to get stronger with push-ups and must discover a approach to improve the problem, contemplate doing dips.

Warning: these are very superior, however are unimaginable strength-building workouts. 

Bodyweight dips are a great exercise to include in an strength training practice.

Muscles educated with the dips:

  • Pectoral 
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Rhomboid (Back muscle tissue)
  • Abs

Easier Variation: Assisted Dips

A resistance band is a great way to get started with this bodyweight exercise.

Tougher Variation: Weighted Dips

My favorite method for doing weighted dips includes a special belt (shown here).

These 5 compound workouts will propel you into the world of body weight coaching. 

For extra concepts on how you can practice and not using a health club, take a look at The 42 Best Bodyweight Exercises (Work Out Anywhere).

Now, it’s barbell time![1]

The 7 Best Compound Exercises (Barbell)

These LEGOs are working the bench and doing some deadlifts. Nerd Fitness approves.

After getting snug transferring your personal body weight round, it’s time to begin coaching with barbells!

To up the issue with these compound workouts, merely add extra weight. 

The enjoyable factor about barbells: you’ll be able to virtually all the time add extra weight (disclaimer: supplied you do it safely). 

Here are The Best Barbell Compound Exercises

6) The Barbell Squat

A weighted squat might be the very best compound train in relation to constructing power and muscle all through your complete physique. 

The back squat will help you transform into a superhero.

Show me someone who squats heavy and I’ll present you an excellent physique. This is a MUST.

Here’s how you can carry out the barbell again squat:

Muscles educated with the barbell squat:

7) The Barbell Deadlift

Ah, the deadlift…possibly the very best train of all time. 

Rebel Leader Steve showing how to do a 420 lb deadlift at the gym.

It’s definitely essentially the most primal: “pick the weight up off the ground. Done.” 

Here’s how you can carry out the deadlift:

Muscles educated with the barbell deadlift:

  • Glutes
  • Erectors (Spinal muscle)
  • Hamstrings
  • Pretty a lot each muscle in your physique

8) The Barbell Romanian Deadlift

Think of the Romania model as the highest half of a traditional deadlift (think about you’re a “drinking bird” bending over on the waist):

Coach Staci showing the Romanian deadlift

Here are step-by-step directions on how you can carry out the Romanian deadlift:

Muscles educated with the Romanian deadlift:

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Erectors (Spinal muscle)
  • Rhomboid (Back muscle tissue)

9) The Barbell Overhead Press

This train is easy: press a barbell above your head. 

Staci performing the overhead press.

Muscles educated with the overhead press:

  • Pectoral 
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Rhomboid (Back muscle tissue)
  • Abs

All the muscle tissue in your chest, shoulders, and arms are engaged so as so that you can elevate the burden over your head. As a bonus, it’s essential to actually flex and brace your core, which will get these muscle tissue working too.

Here are step-by-step directions on how you can carry out the overhead press:

10) The Barbell Bench Press

To do a bench press, simply lie on a bench and decrease a barbell till it virtually touches your chest. Pause, after which press it again up in direction of the sky. 

As Staci shows here, keep your arms vertical (as much as you can).

Repeat! And get sturdy. 

Here are step-by-step directions on how you can carry out the bench press:

Muscles educated with the benchpress:

  • Pectoral 
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Rhomboid (Back muscle tissue)
  • Abs
  • Pretty a lot each muscle in your upper-body

11) The Barbell Bent-Over Row

To do a bent-over row, bend your torso over and hoist a barbell up.

If you've been following along at home, it's now time for performing the row with a barbell!

Muscles educated with the bent-over row:

  • All of your again muscle tissue (Latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, trapezius)
  • Biceps
  • Forearm muscle tissue (dorsal, ventral)
  • Your grip

Here are step-by-step directions on how you can carry out the bent-over row:

12) The Barbell Lunge

To do a weighted lunge, have the bar throughout your higher again and step out together with your proper leg. Lower your hips till your again leg’s knee virtually touches the bottom. Explode up and again by pushing off together with your entrance leg. Repeat in your different facet.

A gif of Coach Staci performing a lunge with a barbell.

Muscles educated with the barbell lunge:

  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Your core (as you stabilize your self and the burden)

Note: The above is likely to be powerful if gyms are closed round you. If that’s so, right here’s how to build a gym at home (utilizing family gear).

Start Performing the Best Compound Exercises (Next Steps)

A woman pressing as against a beautiful sky.

Your mission, do you have to select to simply accept it: decide to making an attempt ONE of those compound actions within the subsequent week. Use 20 seconds of courage, recruit a good friend who has lifted or educated earlier than, and check out your greatest. 

We all begin someplace! 

Speaking of beginning out…

Have you but to do ANY of those compound workouts?

Always begin out with body weight strikes and ensure your kind is appropriate!

If it’s a barbell motion, use a broomstick (or PVC Pipe). 

You can faux you’re Harry Potter after:

Harry Potter on a broomstick

When it involves actions like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, bench press, and many others. – your kind is essential.  Develop good habits with lighter weight and you’ll save your self months of frustration later and can defend you from damage.

If you’re battling sure components of a motion, don’t get pissed off! Just perceive that you just’ll have areas in which you’ll enhance.

When I began, I actually favored working towards all the actions at house as a result of I might watch a video on-line similtaneously I used to be watching myself do it in a mirror.

Film your self and examine it to our movies, or submit it to the form check section of the Nerd Fitness Forums.

Still uncomfortable with the actions after that? Look round at some native power and conditioning gyms and see should you might rent a coach (here’s how to find a good trainer) for one or two periods simply to go over the essential actions (or contemplate working with an online coach).

No matter what path you are taking, crucial factor you are able to do: START NOW!

If you wanna win a race, you need to start it!

Don’t overthink it. Just choose a compound train and discover ways to do it. We can add extra workouts to your routine down the highway.

Want slightly assist getting going? The good subsequent step to begin your power coaching journey!

You obtained it. 

Here’s how Nerd Fitness might help you:

#1) If you need a coach in your pocket, who can do video kind checks, present suggestions, and alter your exercises based mostly in your progress, take a look at our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program

I’ve had a web based coach since 2015 and it’s modified my life. You can study extra by clicking on the field beneath: 

#2) If you need a every day immediate for doing compound workouts at house, take a look at NF Journey. Our enjoyable habit-building app helps you train extra regularly, eat more healthy, and degree up your life (actually).

Plus, you get to construct an superior superhero within the course of!

Try your free trial proper right here:

#3) Join the Rebellion! We want good folks such as you in our neighborhood, the Nerd Fitness Rebellion.

Sign-up beneath and obtain our free information Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. It consists of step-by-step directions for the Best Compound Exercises coated in right now’s information. 

Alright, sufficient from me. Your flip:

Do you agree with my listing of greatest compound workouts?

Am I lacking any?

Any ideas or methods for a beginner simply getting began?

Let me know within the feedback!


PS: Make certain you take a look at the remainder of our Strength Training 101 collection:


GIF Source: Weighted Dips, Biceps Curl, Will Ferrell,

Photo Source: lightfieldstudios © 123RF.com, Workout, LEGO bench pressLance Cpl. Tayler P. Schwamb, 101, 102, 103



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