One quick swipe around the gym and you can spot a number of men doing countless bicep curls. Such isolation exercises (working on single muscle) are what make one look disproportionate. This particular post focuses on the importance of compound lifts (using multiple muscle groups in one exercise) that form the foundation of any weight lifting bible. Follow this compound exercise routine for full body strength, and also to improve the generic functional movements of your body.
The Bench Press or the Chest press is known to be the epitome of Strength Training since the beginning of time. Perhaps an exaggeration, it’s importance in any training program remains undisputed to date. It is the best compound exercise to build a muscular chest and gain upper body strength. For beginners, one should always start small and aim to work his way to at least lifting his/her bodyweight.
Variations – Incline Bench Press, Decline Bench Press, Dumbbell Press
Muscle groups worked: Pectoralis major, deltoids and triceps
How to Bench Press
Deadlift is the ultimate full-body compound exercise. The most important thing is to keep your lower back in a neutral position during the lift. Any form of arching of the back can cause serious injuries like herniated discs. Deadlift is an advanced routine hence it is highly recommended to have someone watch your form while lifting. If you feel a strain on the lower back instead of your hamstrings, it usually means bad technique so reduce the weight until you perfect the form.
Variations – Barbell Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift, Dumbbell Deadlift
Muscle groups worked – Glutes, Hamstrings, Lower back, Core, Quads.
How to Deadlift
Power lifters swear by the squat since it’s highly effective in building overall strength. It should be mandatory in your lifting regime as it’s the most comprehensive lower body compound workout. It probably even engages more muscle groups than a deadlift. Like most lifts, a proper form is essential to reap maximum rewards and to avoid knee pain. Lower back should be neutral at all times
Variations – Front Squat, Back Squat, Sumo Squat, Overhead Squat
Muscle groups worked – Quadriceps. Calves, Upper back, Lower back, Core
How to Squat
Also known as the Overhead Press or Military Press, is the best compound lift for shoulders in particular and entire body in general. You could either do it standing or seated however the standing version engages more muscle groups including your arms and core. People whose arms appear bigger also tend to have stronger shoulders. It’s the shoulders and the triceps that make the arms appear larger.
Variations – Seated shoulder press, Dumbbell Shoulder Press, Push Press
Muscle groups worked – Shoulders, arms, abs, lower back
How to Shoulder Press
The bent over barbell row is another classic full body compound exercise. When done in a proper way, it works your upper and lower back muscles, hips, and biceps. Similar to squat and deadlifts, neutral spine is necessary to avoid any disc injuries.
Variations – Dumbbell rows, T-bar rows, Machine rows
Muscle groups worked – Upper back, Lower back, Hips, Arms, Abs
How to Barbell Row
Before you embark on your lifting journey, keep the following general guidelines in mind.
– Start small and work your way up slowly. Stay patient. Remember ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’
– Proper form is the most important thing. Lighter weights with right technique will work wonders while going heavy with improper form is a recipe for injury.
– Breathing is as important to weight lifting as it is to yoga. Follow proper inhalation and exhalation while lifting
– Right diet and rest days are crucial to perform at optimal levels consistently.
– Ignorance of leg day is another standard mistake usually observed in gym enthusiasts, so squats should not be left out.