5 of the Best Compound Exercises You Can Do

Lexi Lutz
Reading Time: 8 minutes
best compound exercises
Table of Contents

As a personal trainer, mixing compound movement exercises into my clients’ workout plans really lights my fire.

These exercises involve multiple muscle groups and joints, making them more efficient and effective than isolation exercises that target only one muscle group.

Whether you’re looking to build strength, increase muscle mass, or simply get a full-body workout, compound exercises are an excellent choice. They’re also great for weight loss and can be modified for beginners or adapted for athletes.

Key Takeaways

  • Compound exercises involve multiple muscle groups and joints.
  • They are more efficient and effective than isolation exercises.
  • Compound exercises are great for strength building, muscle growth, and full-body workouts.
  • They can be modified for beginners or adapted for athletes.
  • Compound exercises are also useful for weight loss.

1. Deadlifts

Deadlifts are one of the best compound exercises you can do to achieve full-body strength and muscle growth. This exercise engages multiple muscle groups, including the legs, back, and core, making it a highly effective exercise for anyone looking to build overall strength.

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and place your hands on the barbell with an overhand grip. 

2. Lift the bar by extending your knees and hips, while keeping your back straight. 

3. Once the barbell reaches your thighs, lower it back down to the floor while maintaining proper form.

One of the main benefits of deadlifts is their ability to promote muscle growth by targeting the entire body. The exercise works the back muscles, including the lats and traps, as well as the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. This makes it an ideal exercise for anyone not only looking to build overall muscle mass, but to practice their mind-body connection. 

Deadlifts are also a great compound exercise for weight loss. Since they target multiple muscle groups, deadlifts require a lot of energy and can help you burn more calories during and after your workout. This makes them a great addition to any weight loss program.

If you’re new to deadlifts, it’s super important to start with a lighter weight and focus on proper form. Deadlifts can be challenging, but they are a highly rewarding exercise that can help you achieve your strength and muscle-building goals.

Muscles WorkedBenefits
Back muscles (lats and traps)Promotes overall muscle growth
Glutes, hamstrings, and quadricepsImproves lower body strength
Core musclesStrengthens core and improves posture 

2. Squats

As a personal trainer, I always recommend squats to my clients as one of the best compound exercises for strength, muscle growth, and a full-body workout. Squats are an absolute queen of a compound exercise because they target multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core.

1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. 

2. Lower your body down by bending your knees and hips, keeping your chest up and back straight. 

3. Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push back up to the starting position.

By targeting multiple muscle groups, squats can help you develop a stronger, more robust physique. Squats also provide an excellent workout for the core muscles, which are essential for balance, stability, and overall fitness.


Squats are equally useful for weight loss. Since they engage a large number of muscle groups, squats can help you burn more calories than isolation exercises. Squatting with heavy weights can also increase your metabolic rate, which helps your body burn more calories even after you finish your workout. Burn, baby, burn.

Despite their benefits, performing squats correctly can be challenging for beginners. I recommend starting with bodyweight squats and working your way up to using weights gradually. Proper form is crucial when performing squats to avoid injury, so make sure to seek guidance from a professional if you’re unsure or have questions!

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, squats have much to offer as a compound exercise. By incorporating squats into your workout routine, you can target multiple muscle groups, promote strength and muscle growth, and enjoy a full-body workout that burns calories and builds lean muscle mass.

3. Bent-Over Rows

Bent-over rows are an excellent exercise for targeting the back muscles, including the lats, traps, and rhomboids. They also engage the biceps and core, making it a full-body workout that can help improve posture and overall stability.

When performing bent-over rows, it’s crucial to maintain proper form to prevent injury to the lower back and maximize the exercise’s benefits. To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip.
  2. Bend forward at the hips, keeping your back straight and your core engaged.
  3. Lower the bar down towards the ground, keeping it close to your body.
  4. Slowly lift the bar back up towards your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the movement.
  5. Lower the bar back down to the starting position and repeat for your desired number of reps.

Bent-over rows can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, or a cable machine, making it a versatile exercise that you can perform anywhere. It’s also an effective exercise for promoting muscle growth, as it targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

bent-over rows

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, bent-over rows are one of the most effective compound exercises for muscle growth and can help you achieve your fitness goals. Incorporate this exercise into your workout routine and see the benefits for yourself.

4. Push-Ups

When it comes to bodyweight compound exercises, pull-ups and push-ups are two of the most effective movements that can be performed. Both exercises require no equipment and can be done anywhere. They target multiple muscle groups, making them great exercises for building strength, muscle growth, and a full-body workout.

Push-ups are a staple exercise for building upper body strength and toning muscles. They work the chest, shoulders, triceps, and core muscles. This exercise can be modified in many ways, making it suitable for beginners and athletes alike. Some popular modifications include incline push-ups, decline push-ups, and diamond push-ups.

5. Pull-Ups

Pull-ups are an excellent exercise for building upper body strength and targeting the back muscles, biceps, shoulders, and forearms. They’re great for increasing grip strength and can help to improve posture. Pull-ups can be challenging, especially for beginners, but don’t worry. There are modifications that can be used to make the exercise more attainable. Some popular modifications include assisted pull-ups, negative pull-ups, and chin-ups.

When performed regularly and correctly, push-ups and pull-ups can be effective compound exercises for weight loss, muscle growth, and overall fitness. They are also great exercises for women and men of all fitness levels.


I hope you’ve learned more about the immense benefits that compound exercises offer in terms of strength, muscle growth, and overall fitness. By targeting multiple muscle groups simultaneously, these exercises pack a powerful punch, making them a valuable addition to any workout routine, regardless of your fitness level or goals.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced athlete, incorporating compound exercises for toning muscles like deadlifts, squats, bent-over rows, pull-ups, and push-ups into your fitness routine can help you achieve your desired results faster and more efficiently. You’ll maximize your gym time and get the most out of each workout, without having to spend hours in the gym.

Remember, consistency is key when it comes to achieving your fitness goals. So, stick with your workout routine and make sure to include compound exercises in it. With patience, perseverance, and dedication, you’ll see results in no time!


What are compound exercises?

Compound exercises are movements that engage multiple muscle groups and joints at the same time. They are highly effective for improving strength, promoting muscle growth, and providing a full-body workout.

Why should I incorporate compound exercises into my fitness routine?

Compound exercises offer several benefits, including maximizing gym time by targeting multiple muscle groups in a single movement, increasing overall strength and muscle mass, burning more calories, and improving functional fitness.

Can beginners perform compound exercises?

Compound exercises can be modified to suit different fitness levels. Beginners can start with lighter weights, focus on proper form and technique, and gradually increase intensity as they build strength and confidence.

Are compound exercises suitable for women?

Absolutely! Compound exercises are suitable for both men and women. They can help women build strength, tone muscles, and achieve their fitness goals, just like men.

How often should I include compound exercises in my workout routine?

I recommend you include compound exercises 2-3 times per week, alongside other exercises targeting specific muscle groups. This will ensure a well-rounded workout routine that maximizes results.