Compound exercises are the type of exercises that engage multiple muscle groups in your body at the same time. In short, compound exercises provide you with the most value for your effort. A good example of a compound exercise would be a squat. When you do squats, you work on your quadriceps, glutes, and calves.

But that is the simplest example of a compound exercise. There are some compound exercises that basically merge two exercises into one and hence work on multiple muscle groups at the same time. A good example of such compound exercise would be a bicep curl plus a lunge. 

The opposite of compound exercise would be isolation exercises. These are the exercises that target a single muscle group at a time. The perfect example of an isolation exercise is a traditional bicep curl. This exercise targets only one muscle group in your body: the biceps. 

While it is true that you can hit a number of muscle groups at the same time with the help of compound exercises, it does not mean that isolation exercises do not have any use. These exercises prove to be the most beneficial in cases of physical therapy where you have to focus only on a certain group of muscles. 

Now, that is enough focus on isolation exercises; given that this article is not about isolation exercises but compound exercises. Let’s learn some basics about compound exercises such as the benefits of compounds and various types of compound exercises like compound bicep exercises, compound chest exercises, etc. 

Benefits of Compound Exercises

As we have already mentioned, the most important benefit of compound exercises that they are famous for is how they can target multiple muscle groups which saves you a lot of time and effort. If you have only a limited time window for your workout but you want to hit a number of muscle groups, compound exercises are the best for you. 

Here is a list of some other benefits of compound exercises:

  • When more muscles are engaged at the same time by performing the best compound exercises, you burn more calories.¬†
  • When various muscle groups utilize blood at the same time, your heart starts to pump blood with more intensity. Hence, you elevate your heart rate by performing compound movement exercises.¬†
  • You can improve both your flexibility and strength by doing compound exercises. What result you get essentially depends on what exercises you do. For example, when you do compound bicep exercises or compound tricep exercises, you increase your strength. On the other hand, if you do compound movement exercises, you increase your flexibility.¬†
  • When you move your body in natural patterns with the help of compound exercises, you essentially improve both joint mobility and stability.¬†
  • The best compound exercises also improve your intramuscular coordination.¬†
  • When you engage more muscles, you increase your ability to lift heavier weights. And when you lift heavier weights, you build the overall strength of your body quicker.¬†

Types of Compound Exercises

There are as many compound exercises as there are muscle groups in your body. Here is a compound exercises list: 

  • Compound Back Exercises¬†
  • Compound Shoulder Exercises
  • Upper Body Compound Exercises¬†
  • Compound Tricep Exercises¬†

These were some major types of compound exercises. Now let’s get into the major types and see some examples of each type of compound exercise:

  • Compound Back Exercises: When you do back compound exercises at home, you hit your Trapezius, Rhomboids, Teres major and minor, Infraspinatus, Latissimus dorsi (lats), and Erector Spinae. A few good examples of these back exercises are Barbell Deadlift, Barbell Row, Chin-up, and Sumo Deadlift.¬†
  • Compound Shoulder Exercises: These shoulder exercises hit all three heads of your deltoids: the anterior, lateral, and posterior. If you want to do a workout with basic functional exercises that hit your shoulder muscles, you should try Barbell Shoulder Press, Arnold Press, and Upright Row. If you don‚Äôt have equipment at home, you can try Handstand Push-Ups which engage your shoulder muscles and the core muscles.¬†
  • Compound Exercises For Weight Loss: It is very easy to lose weight with compound exercises since you lose more calories when you do more physical activity. You can do the following compound exercises at home to lose weight at a quicker rate: Burpees, Sit-Ups, and Push-Ups.¬†

You might have heard of the big 5 compound exercises. These exercises have existed since the start of strength training. These exercises are:

  • Bench Press
  • Deadlift
  • Squats
  • Shoulder Press¬†
  • Pull-up

Other than these 5, there are big 3 compound movements famous in the world of bodybuilding. These big 3 compound movements are: 

  • Bench Press
  • Squat
  • Deadlift

If you look closely, you will find that these exercises are actually part of the above-mentioned list. And that is because of the efficiency of compound exercises. Since one exercise is capable of hitting many muscle groups, you might find it in a number of lists. Another example of that is the barbell bench press. This exercise is found in both lists: compound exercises for weight loss and compound chest exercises.


If you want an efficient and effective way to get the maximum possible results from your time, there is nothing better than compound exercises. Choose the muscle groups that you want to work on and make a compound exercises list that includes relevant exercises. 

If you are getting overwhelmed with the huge list of exercises, just go with the big 5 compound exercises and you will be done for the next week or two. If you get bored, replace upper body compound exercises with lower body exercises. 

Since you hit various muscles at the same time with compound exercises, it is easy to replace one exercise with the other. After all, what matters at the end is that you plan a workout and stick to it. 

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