6 Compound Lifts to Pack on Muscle

6 Compound Lifts to Pack on Muscle

If you are looking to build some serious muscles, compound lifts are the way to go. Compound lifts are exercises that work multiple muscle groups simultaneously as efficiently as possible. These are the key heavy lifts which form the foundation of any strengthening program.

In this guide, let us take a look at the benefits of compound lifts and the ones that are best to pack on muscles.

Benefits of Compound Lifts

Let us take a look at why compound lifts are so beneficial for muscle building:

They Train More Muscles

Compound lifts work by manipulating more joints via muscle contractions. The more joints that are involved, the more muscle mass is working at one time. This can be very helpful in overall muscle development, core strengthening, and workout efficiency.

They Increase Load Stress

Since you are relying on multiple muscle groups, rather than a single one, you can afford to lift more load. This can enable you to improve strength development, encourage muscle hypertrophy, and support skeletal adaptation.

They Burn More Fat

Compound lifts help to burn more calories and hence burn more fat without leading to muscle wastage. Also by taking on bigger moves, you use more glycogen built up in your muscles which can release pent-up energy.

They Decrease Muscle Injury

It takes a lot of work and years to master compound lifts. However, when you do, they can help reduce muscle fatigue and muscle injury. So allowing your muscles to learn the movements the right way can improve muscle recovery.

They Are Time Efficient

Since they work several muscles in different parts of your body at once, you save time. Selecting compound lift exercises that work the most muscles of your body can help you finish your workout regimen in a few minutes if you are on a time crunch.

They Improve Mobility

Since compound lifts are pretty complex, if you do them with proper form, you will hit all the right amount of muscles, which means you will improve your joint mobility, including hip, elbows, knees, wrists, and ankles.

The Six Best Compound Exercises

Below is the list of the six most effective compound lifts that can help build muscles across all your major muscle groups:

1.     Squats

Proper Form

  • Stand with feet slightly wider apart then hip width, with your toes turned slightly out.
  • Keep your chest up, engage your abdomen and push your hips back while shifting your weight to your heels.
  • Lower yourself down until your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are no further over than your second toes.
  • Keep your core tight and chest up as you stand back up, by pushing through your heel.
  • Squeeze your glutes at the end.
  • Do five to 10 reps in 3 sets.

Targeted Muscles

Quadriceps, core, lower back, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and glutes

Why Do Them

The squat is a key compound exercise that can build strength and muscles in your legs, back, and core. Squats have several variations like front squats, back squats, box squats, oversquats, and you can perform them with dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells.

Squats will give you much better results if you are pulling weights and that is not easy. But it is essential to get your technique right since squats hit so many muscle groups at once.

2.     Deadlifts

Proper Form

  • Stand straight with feet hip-width apart and your toes under the barbell on the floor.
  • Shift your hips back keeping your abdominals tight and your spine neutral and float as you squat down.
  • Grab the barbell with your hands placed slightly wider than your thighs.
  • Push up through your heels but keep your knees relaxed as you stand up.
  • Pull the bar up at the same time as your hips. Keep the bar close to your body.
  • Stand up tall and squeeze your glutes at the top.
  • Slowly lower the bar down to the ground with a hip hinge.
  • Perform 10 to 12 reps in 3 sets each. Rest for 30 to 60 seconds between each set.

Targeted Muscles

Forearms, core, lower back, lats, glutes, and hip flexors

Why Do Them

Technique is very important when deadlifting. Remember to always lift the weight with the strength of your arms while keeping your back straight. If you learn the proper form, it can help prevent injuries and target weaker posterior muscle chains that can help you reach your strength goals much more quickly and efficiently.

Bench Press

Proper Form

  • Lie on the bench, squeeze your shoulders together and press your lats to the bench. Your eyes should be under the bar and feet should be planted flat to the ground.
  • Grab the bar with your thumbs wrapped around it – the bar should be settled in the heel of your palm.
  • Straighten your arms to unrack the bar.
  • Lower the bar down to your chest.
  • Press the bar back up until your arms are straight.
  • Hold the weight and breathe. Hold your breath again and lower the bar.
  • Make sure your butt remains on the bench when you press up.
  • Do five reps in five sets.

Targeted Muscles

Pectorals, front delts, and triceps

Why Do Them

Bench presses are great for strengthening the muscles in your forearm. To get more bang for your buck, you should also try an incline bench press that will engage more of your muscles group like your upper and lower chest.

Pull Ups

Proper Form

  • Grab the pull up bar with arms down and your hands shoulder-width apart.
  • Hang to the pull up bar with straight arms and pull your legs from the floor.
  • Pull yourself up by pushing your elbows down until your chin passes the bar.
  • Lower yourself until your arms are straight.
  • Do at least 5 reps in 3 sets.

Targeted Muscles

Biceps, core, delts, lats, traps

Why Do Them

Pull ups refer to a range of exercises that can be done with the help of a pull up bar. Pull ups are the best ways to target the muscles in your back and are great for improving your fitness level. They also are the best exercise to strengthen your grip which is very important for all compound lift exercises.

Overhead Press

Proper Form

  • Stand with the bar level with your front shoulders and your hand next to your shoulders so that your elbows and forearms are in a vertical position.
  • Grip the bar resting its weight on the heel of your palm and balance it on your shoulders.
  • With your chest up and out, lean back by pushing your hips forwards and pressing the bar up over your head in a straight line.
  • At the top, lift your shoulders slightly and lock your elbows.
  • Repeat 5 times in 5 sets.

Targeted Muscles

Glutes, lower back, upper chest, lats, quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, traps, and triceps

Why Do Them

Even though it looks simple, this technique is more suited to experienced lifters. However, it is great for building muscles in a lot of major areas in one go. Although overhead presses require a lot of practice, they are one of the very best exercises for building your strength.

Barbell Rows

Proper Form

  • Stand with your midfoot under the bar.
  • Bend over and grab the bar, palms down.
  • Keep your hips, high unlock your knees, and keep your spine neutral.
  • Lift your chest as you straighten your back.
  • Pull the bar against your lower chest.
  • Lower the bar down to the ground, straighten your back and breathe.
  • Do 5 reps in 5 sets.

Targeted Muscles

Lats, erectors, abs, hamstring, glutes, triceps, and biceps

Why Do Them

It is very important to have proper form when doing the barbell row or you could seriously hurt your spine. If done right, this is a great exercise for developing back and bicep strength. It also comes with a lot of other types of bent-over rows like Pendlay rows, single-arms row, and inverted rows, and it can be done with barbells, kettlebells, and dumbbells.

The Takeaway

Compound lifting are any exercises that engage multiple muscle group at the same time. They can also be done in a wide variety of muscle patterns and the tools they require are based on your fitness goals and preferences. If you are serious about building muscles, you can start by building your movements with the above exercises and use them as foundation for your fitness goals.


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