A Beginners Guide: Compound Movements To Maximize Your Time and Results

Training The Wrong Way

In a fast paced world full of limited training time, excuses, and men’s fitness magazines, it’s easy to get caught up doing the wrong training routine.

The end result is wasting your time, effort, and getting sub-par results. Like, well, mostly everyone else in the gym.

Whether you’re looking to make the most out of the short time you have in the gym, or maximize your results in the long run, there is only one answer for you: compound movements.

Training The Right Way: Compound Movements.

This article is split into three sections so you can follow it based on your goals:

  • Increasing Mass
  • Increasing Strength
  • Getting Ripped

If you’re pretty comfortable with what a compound movement is, choose the relevant goal and skip ahead.

If you’re not, read it all so that you understand what to do for all aspects of training. So, you can apply it when the time comes.

Either way, you’re going to want to bookmark this post.

But first…

What Is A Compound Movement/Exercise?

A compound movement uses multiple joints to move a weight. The more of your body it uses, the better the results. By using more muscles, compound movements create a deeper response from the muscle, which activates more muscle tissue.

Basically, your body has to work harder to do these movements. Which increases the results in size, strength and fat loss. [1]

To use an example: An Overhead Press activates more of the Anterior Deltoid than your Front Raise.

The Compound Lifts

Each ‘section’ of your body has it’s own compound movement. Section is written in Inverted Comma’s because we’re trying to shift the mindset from training individual body parts to training the body as a whole, with carry-over effects to more than just one specific area.

Legs:

Squats (all variants), Deadlifts, Leg Press, Hack Squat, Box Jumps, Lunges (all variants), Split Squats and Kettlebell Swings.

Chest:

Bench Press (all variations), Dumbbell Chest Press, Dumbbell/Barbell Incline/Decinle Press (all variations), Press Ups (all variations).

Back:

Pull Ups, Chin Ups, Lat Pulldowns, Rows (all variations), Seated Row.

Shoulders:

Military Press, Overhead Press, Dumbbell Press (variations), Handstand Push Ups.

Total Body:

Olympic Lifts

Arms:

Barbell Bicep Curls, Dips

Okay, so now you’ve got an understanding of what compound movements are, let’s apply them to your goals:

Compound Lifts for Increasing Mass

If you’re just starting out, there isn’t a single more effective way to increase your overall muscle size than using compound movements.

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So, how do you do it?

Three Day Split

If you’re training three times per week (Mon/Wed/Fri or Tue/Thu/Sat, for example) and you really want to get the most bang for your buck, create a compound workout program that’s going to work for you.

This is a good starting sample template:

Session One: Chest & Back – Choose two exercises per body part from the list above, and complete 4-6 sets of 4-8 reps.

Session Two: Legs – Choose three exercises from the above list, and complete 4-6 sets of 3-8 reps.

Sessions Three: Back & Shoulders – Chest & Back – Choose two exercises per body part from the list above, and complete 4-6 sets of 4-8 reps.

Rest Periods: Maintain 1-3 minutes between sets.

Four-Day Split:

Choose a body part to train each day, and allocate a day, for example:

Monday – Legs

Tuesday – Chest

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Back

Friday – Shoulders

Then, choose 3 exercises per body part and complete 3-5 sets of 4-8 reps.

Rest Periods: Maintain 1-3 minutes between sets.

Improving Strength

If you want to get strong (and by strong, we mean strong) then compound lifts will teach you the right movement patterns, and give you the best possible platform to build your strength on.

Let’s look at a simple way to start building strength using compound lifts.

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Three-Day Split:

For a novice lifter, this is the only split we’re going to recommend. The bigger the movement and the heavier the weight – the greater the toll it’s going to take on your body.

So, we want to ensure that you’re going to be able to train in the long run. Choose three days, with at least one rest day in between. Once you get a few months of solid training under your belt, feel free to increase to 5 days per week.

Session One: Deadlift + One Upper Body Compound Movement – Complete each for 2-5 reps and 4-6 sets.

Session Two: Squat + One Upper Body Compound Movement – Complete each for 2-5 reps and 4-6 sets.

Session Three: One Lower Body Compound + One Upper Body Compound – Complete each for 3-5 reps and 4-6 sets.
Rest Periods: 3-5 Minutes Rest Between Sets.

We’ve included Squats, Deadlifts, and other variations in there – because they’re essential movements for strength. The rest of the exercises, you can really play around with. It also gives you a lot of flexibility.

Try to increase the weight each week. Also be sure to warm up, the working sets outlined do not include a proper warmup.

Getting Ripped

If losing body fat, and getting into beach-body shape is your goal – then compound lifts provide an excellent platform for this, too.

By using your entire body to perform a lift, you can expend the most energy possible to boost your metabolism.

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Three Day Split

If you’re training three times a week (Mon/Wed/Fri or Tue/Thu/Sat, for example) then we want to completely maximize your time and effort.

We suggest following this template:

Session One: Chest & Back – Choose two exercises per body part from the list above, and complete 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps.

Session Two: Legs – Choose three exercises from the above list, and complete 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps.

Session Three: Arms & Shoulders – Choose two exercises per body part from the list above, and complete 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps

Rest Periods: Maintain 30-45 seconds rest between sets.

Four-Day Split:

Choose a body part to train each day, and allocate a day, for example:

Monday – Legs

Tuesday – Chest

Wednesday – Rest

Thursday – Back

Friday – Shoulders

Then, choose 3 exercises per body part and complete sets of 6-8 reps

Rest Periods: Maintain 30 – 45 seconds between sets.

You might notice that this workout looks a lot like the mass building routine. And, well, it is.

But the less you rest, and the more reps you do – the harder your body will work and the more body fat & calories you will burn.

We’re not reinventing the wheel here, just providing proven solutions.

To Summarize

The bigger the movement, the better the result.

Lift heavier, with more rest if you want to gain strength.

Lift semi-heavy, with medium rest, if you want to gain mass.

Lift a little lighter, with a lot less rest, if you want to lose body fat.

And, use compound movements for them all to get the best results

Any Questions?

 

More Reading: Free Weights vs. Machine: Which is Better?

Back to Jacked Factory.

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[1] Gottschall, J.S., Mills, J., Hastings, B. Integration Core Exercises Elicit Greater Muscle Activation Than Isolation Exercises. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27, 3, 590-596.

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