Every time I pass through a gym I see people doing so many different exercises for each muscle group which for me only makes the workouts more complicated, if you are one of those guys or girls who do a bunch of exercises for each muscle group but, you´re doing them for a reason, and you understand why then that´s great but, many people don´t understand why they´re doing certain things a certain way, they just follow some workout they found on the internet or the one that some friend recommended them.
In the last posts we talked about bodyweight exercises now let’s talk about compound movements which along with bodyweight exercises are really helpful to get an amazing physique and improve overall fitness and strength.
Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles at the same time which gives us the opportunity to lift more weight. The more weight we can lift, the stronger we get, and we gain more muscle (considering that our food program is right). This type of exercises have a lot of benefits including lowering the risk of injuries (considering that we don´t let our ego get in the way), we can do more in less time but it doesn´t mean that it´s going to be easy and we keep things simple.
Performing compound movements with free weights (barbells or dumbbells) is the best option even when we can´t lift the same amount of weight compared to gym machines or other equipment.
My approach to training is old school, sticking with a few basic exercises with high weight and low reps and adjusting some variables according to the goal we´re working on. Since compound exercises are multi-joint movements, we can lift more weight, so they are the perfect option to lift more weight in a low rep range.
Compound movements also require balance and coordination so as we keep increasing the weight our performance will improve too.
With compound movements we can lift heavy weight for 5 to 8 reps for hypertrophy to build lean dense muscle, we can go heavier in weight and lower in reps around 1 to 3 reps for strength and power and we can also lift lighter weight for 12 to 15 reps or even more.
Even when we can lift really heavy weight with this type of exercises I don´t recommend going to high to hit low rep ranges between 1 – 4, the lowest I will go is 5 reps, the reason for this is to avoid injuries, when we go to high in weight to hit the 1 to 4 rep range the chances of getting injured are really high, our body makes a huge effort and we need to make sure that our form and everything is right. If our goal is to improve body composition, to get in our best physique possible and sustain it we don´t need to go that heavy in weight and low in reps, working in the 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 rep range is perfectly fine.
When we are using compound movements it is simple and effective but it doesn´t mean it´s easy. And since we´re working on low reps and high weight things get harder meaning maximum muscle recruitment and high nervous-system activation this is the right stimulus for muscle growth and strength. Here we need to consider recovery, which is as important as our workouts, the central nervous system needs more time to recover so we can´t train the same muscle group 2 days continuously.
If our goal is muscle growth we can create a workout program that combines bodyweight, compound and isolation exercises and that uses both types of hypertrophy on separate days and hitting each muscle twice per week, this will give us the best results but we need to be careful how we design the program.
If our goal is fat loss, we can stay with bodyweight and compound exercises and focus on low rep ranges around 6 to 8 and make sure that we maintain our strength so that we maintain muscle mass.
We don´t need to do a lot of different exercises for each muscle group, keep what works and eliminate what doesn´t work. If we focus on key movements, we can build a great physique that is useful, there´s no reason to look great if we can´t perform great. Our goal is to improve body composition and build a physique we are proud of and that is useful for daily activities at our home or your job.
Let us know by leaving a comment on our Facebook and Twitter account if you like to keep things simple and effective and if you prefer short workouts compared to long workouts?
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