Compound exercises


Looking for a way of training where you trigger multiple muscles at the same time? You would rather train on a fixed machine than with free weights, because you feel insecure with free weights. Still, you would like to train with free weights, but you have no idea how. You’ve heard of compound exercises, but you don’t really know what they are and what the benefits actually are. If these are all questions you might be wondering, then this article is all written for you. In this article you will learn more about what compound exercises actually are. In addition, the benefits of compound exercises are discussed and finally you will find out which exercises are compound exercises.

What are compound exercises

If you have been involved in fitness for a while, then you have probably heard the term compound exercises already. You have probably heard or read that it is good for you, but what it exactly means is perhaps still a bit vague. Compound exercises are part of a form of strength training. For example, in the strength training you have the isolation exercises and the compound exercises.

Isolation Exercises

The name gives it away a bit, because with isolation exercise you train one muscle group. You train one muscle group in isolation. This allows you to focus well on that one muscle group. You often do isolation exercises on a strength device. Insulation is a good addition to your training schedule. Especially if you want to get stronger or more muscular in a specific muscle group.

Compound exercises

In compound exercises you use several muscle groups at the same time. They are also known as compound exercises. Although several muscle groups are trained simultaneously, there is often a ‘main muscle group’ that is trained during these exercises. but without the other supporting muscle groups around it, the exercise could not be performed. These exercises are usually performed with free weights, such as a barbell, kettlebells, dumbbells, weight plates etc.

Advantages and disadvantages of compound exercises

Now that you know exactly what a compound exercise is, you must have become curious about the advantages and disadvantages of compound exercises. Exercises in which you train multiple muscle groups must of course have a number of nice advantages, but unfortunately also some disadvantages.


1. Faster results
With compound exercises you train multiple muscle groups at the same time. This means that you train different muscles in the same time and therefore several muscles become stronger. You can also use more weight, because you use multiple muscle groups to lift the weight. And the harder you train, the more ‘muscle damage’, the more muscle growth you have in the long term.

2. More efficient
Because you can train multiple muscle groups at the same time, you don’t have to train for hours to have trained all muscle groups. You can create an efficient training schedule, in which you train your entire body with, for example, five compound exercises. Which is much more efficient than ten isolation exercises.

3. More muscle growth hormones are produced
When you train more muscle groups at the same time, the hormone release also increases. For example, the hormones testosterone and growth hormone are secreted more by the body when you train more muscles at the same time. These hormones in turn have a positive contribution to building more muscle tissue.

4. You get better coordination
Because you train several muscles at the same time, these muscles learn to work together more. For example, you are better in balance, because the smaller muscles that are often not trained with an isolation exercise, are now trained.

Where there are advantages, there are often disadvantages. For example, compound exercises can also have some minor disadvantages.


1. Compound exercises are more difficult to perform
As you can read above, compound exercises are often performed with free weights, and not on a machine. To be able to perform these types of exercises properly, you also need to know the technique of the exercise. It is therefore important that you first master the technique with a lighter weight. This makes the compound exercise less difficult to perform. If you feel you have mastered the technique well enough, you can train harder. All this to prevent as many injuries as possible.

2. You can overload your muscles faster with compound exercises
As you now know, you train multiple muscle groups at the same time with compound exercises. For example, when you make a training schedule, pay attention to which muscles you train with which exercise. When you have a lot of exercises, where you train the same muscle groups several times, you can overload these muscles. Which in turn can lead to injuries and nobody wants that.

Why should a compound exercise be in your training schedule?

As you can see, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to compound exercises. Now we believe that if you are involved in strength training, there should always be compound exercises in your training schedule. There are several reasons for this, which we will discuss below.

1. You train multiple muscles at the same time
As you have read before, you train multiple muscle groups with 1 exercise. So it is very profitable to train in this way. It is often heavier because of this, but you train several muscles with it at the same time. This also makes the muscles work better with each other.

2. Burn more calories
The more muscle you use, the more calories you burn. So if you are working on healthy weight loss, these are the exercises you want to have in your schedule. Burn more calories in less time. What else do you want?

3. It’s more functional
Your muscles have to work together in a compound exercise. Just think, if you do a squat, for example, it is often said that it is an exercise for the buttocks and legs. However, you also definitely use your abs and you are constantly looking for balance. So you see all these muscles will have to tighten in the right way and time to achieve a good performance. Furthermore, they are often exercises that you use in daily life rather than isolation exercises. For example, consider a leg extension. You only use your thighs. But when do you use this in everyday life?

4. It improves your balance
With most compound exercises you always use your abs. Your abs are an important part of your core stability. So if you do your compound exercises you are actually also training your core stability and your balance will also improve.

Which compound exercises are there?

Now you may wonder, that’s all nice and nice all those advantages and disadvantages of those compound exercises, but which exercises are actually called compound exercises? We have therefore listed a nice list of the most important compound exercises for you below.

List of most important compound exercises:


Compound exercises are therefore very good for the body. They are functional, you train multiple exercises with them, you get a stronger core stability and you burn a lot of calories with them. It is therefore also good for weight loss. Remember, with strength training you not only burn calories during exercise, you also burn calories after exercise. A great way to lose those pounds. Compound exercises are also good for the cooperation of the muscles. The more muscles you have to contract in the right way and at the right time, the better it will all work together. However, the only drawback of compound exercises is that they can be injury prone if you perform them incorrectly. It is therefore extremely important to be able to master the technique of the exercise before you start doing it with heavy weights. Technique is many times more important than doing the exercise with heavy weight.