Compound Exercise: How It Can Jump-Start Your Fitness

Compound exercises involve multiple joints and work different muscles or muscle groups at one time. They are a core aspect of a well-rounded workout regime, and differ from isolation exercises, which are typically performed with commercial weight machines and target one muscle or muscle group.

Compound exercises include lunges, deadlifts, push ups, chest press, and jump rope, and can incorporate dumbbells and barbells. A deadlift, for example, is a multi-joint exercise because both the hips and knees are woking to execute the movement. This triggers a handful of connected muscle groups. Isolation movements include biceps curls, a single-joint exercise in which only the elbow is moving.

A major benefit of dynamic compound exercise is that it often simulates real-life activities, using a variety of movements through a wide range of motion, as outlined by Very Well Fit. We often perform compound exercises like squatting in our everyday life, engaging many different muscles in the lower body and core, including quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, lower back and core. Given this nature of compound workouts, they translate well and into more types of common movement patterns than a traditional isolation workout.

Exercises that work different muscles at once are also more time efficient. According to, it takes just eight to ten compound exercises to stimulate all the major muscles in the body at once. They can also help develop the body proportionately, and avoid overdoing any one muscle or muscle group.

Compound exercises can require minimal to no equipment, with as little as a barbell or body weight in a high-rep routine. According to, compound lifts increase overall strength and size more effectively than single-joint workouts, because they signal the production of large concentrations of testosterone and growth hormone. This fact should not alarm women, who do not have enough testosterone hormone to accidentally build bulky muscles simply through a full-body weightlifting routine.

Overall, compound exercises are a great way to build strength efficiently, helping avoid injury and aid in everyday movement. That being said, isolation exercises can also be an important part of a workout regime, especially when there is muscle imbalance, or a certain part of the body that needs rest or work.