4 Compound Exercises You Must Add Into Your Workout Regime


Looking to step up your fitness game? Let’s explore compound exercises together – they’re your secret weapon for building muscle, burning calories, and making your workouts work harder for you. With deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, and bench presses in our toolkit, we’re on the path to a stronger, more powerful you.

What are compound exercises?

In the fitness world, most exercises can be split into two categories: 

  • Compound
  • Isolation

An isolation exercise is something like a barbell curl or a shoulder press; it only targets a specific muscle group. By comparison, compound exercises target multiple muscle groups at once. 

This leads to a host of benefits, such as improved muscle fiber recruitment, leading to a better muscle pump during workouts. Getting numerous muscle groups to fire together also increases the energy demands on the body. As a consequence, you’re forced to burn more calories, which means compound lifts help you burn more fat during your workouts. 

Everyone should start adding compound exercises to their workout regime, but which ones are the best to include? Here are four you simply must utilize: 


You simply can’t talk about compound movements without mentioning the deadlift. It is the best exercise you can do – and also arguably the only full-body movement. People commonly see it as a back exercise because gym bros do deadlifts on back day, but it targets almost all the major muscle groups in your body. You’ll burn more calories from a few sets of deadlifts than you would from running on the treadmill for the same length of time, meaning it ends up being an exceptional belly fat exercise for those aiming to lose weight. 

Performing a deadlift involves standing upright over a bar before hinging at the hips (pushing your bum back and keeping your back straight) and then squatting down to grip the bar with your hands. You push through your feet (almost like a standing leg press) and tense your glutes to lift the bar from the floor. Keep your upper back muscles tight and scapula retracted as you stand up straight before lowering the bar again. 

All in all, you’re recruiting the following muscle groups: 

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Lower back
  • Upper back & traps
  • Core

Your shoulders even get some slight stimulation, meaning your triceps and chest are the only muscle groups not being properly activated by this movement. 


When it comes to lower body compound movements, the squat is a fantastic option. Being able to squat with proper form helps your body in immeasurable ways. It leads to more mobile hip joints and can minimize back pain. 

Loads of people – even experienced lifters – struggle with proper squat form. We recommend watching the video below as it goes through all the important steps and things to consider when squatting. 

When performing a squat, you’re activating all of these muscles: 

  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Numerous hip stabilizer muscles
  • Core
  • Calves

Some may look at this and wonder if a leg press isn’t also a good compound lower-body exercise. It targets multiple muscle groups as well, but the big difference is that a squat forces you to stand up. In doing so, this requires a good level of balance, which is where so many smaller stabilizer muscles activate. It’s why one set of squats feels a lot harder than a set of leg presses. 

Pull Up

There’s no doubt in our mind that the pull-up is the best upper-body compound movement. Everyone should know what a pull-up is and how to perform this exercise. Hold onto a bar above you and “pull” your chest towards it. 

This movement recruits so many muscles, such as: 

  • Biceps
  • Brachialis
  • Lats
  • Traps
  • Rhomboids 

It’s basically a complete pull workout in one exercise. You target every part of your upper back, plus your biceps. The fact you’re targeting so many muscles at once makes this a highly intense exercise – also, you’re constantly fighting against gravity. This makes the pull-up one of the most advanced exercises in the gym. 

Some of you may be unable to perform one rep, but that’s fine. Look for an assisted pull-up machine in your gym or use thick resistance bands – as shown in the video below: 

Bench Press

We can’t conclude this post without including a push-focused compound movement. You have two main options here; the dip and the bench press. We’ve opted for the bench press as it allows for more resistance loading. In other words, you can lift heavier weights to force your muscles to work harder. 

While you do spend all the time lying on a bench, you’re still recruiting these big muscle groups: 

  • Chest
  • Front delts
  • Triceps

It doesn’t seem like much, but anyone who’s done a heavy set of bench presses will testify that it’s as intense as it gets in the gym! 

The beauty of compound movements is that you can chain them together to form a total body workout. A session involving these four lifts, repeating twice or three times a week, will lead to immense gains. You could throw in a few isolation exercises at the end as well, if you want to target a specific muscle group.