No matter what your fitness goals are, it’s essential to work every part of your body to become truly strong. But sometimes it can be difficult to create and maintain a routine that gives a wide range of muscle groups an equal amount of attention. If you’re guilty of focussing on one part of your body more than the others, then this guide can help you to adopt a more well-rounded approach to working out.
Strengthening your whole body will not only improve your muscle definition, but support your overall mobility as well. It might not seem like it, but your core muscles are used during both upper and lower body exercises, helping to stabilise your movements.
One of the best ways to make sure your training programme is covering all bases is to get started on a full body compound workout routine. If you’re not sure what this is or how to begin, this blog will explain all the basics you need to know.
You’re probably already aware that a full body workout involves targeting lots of different muscle groups in one session. A full body compound workout is just that, but with the addition of compound exercises. A compound exercise involves using more than one muscle group at the same time to perform a movement. This allows you to strengthen more than one part of your body in one fluid motion, making the time you spend training even more worth your while.
While isolation exercises that focus on one specific muscle group have their place, compound exercises will help you to build that all-round level of fitness. But not all the movements in your workout have to be full body compound exercises. In fact, it’s beneficial to focus on the upper and lower body individually. But your upper and lower body are also made up of lots of muscle groups, so it’s important to make sure you’re engaging as many of those as you can.
The secret to an effective full body compound workout is choosing your exercises carefully. We’ve compiled some of the best compound exercises to get you started.
While you might be aware that pull ups are working your arms and shoulders, they’re engaging multiple muscle groups beneath the surface too. Pull ups target both your biceps and lats as well as your delts and traps. You’ll even get a decent core workout in there. All you need to get started is a pull up bar, which is perfect for installing at home as well as in a gym or studio.
If you’re really looking to get into your chest muscles while working your delts and triceps too, performing dips will give you the challenging burn you’re in search of. As a particularly strenuous move, you might not be able to do too many reps before taking a break. But the reps you do manage to do will help you to build massive amounts of upper body strength over time.
Performing a bench press with barbells isn’t a move for beginners, but if you’re comfortable lifting weights it can be really beneficial to your training routine. Simply lie back on a weights bench or incline bench and keep your hands shoulder-width apart when pushing the barbell away from you. You’ll be working your shoulders, arms and pectoral muscles.
If you prefer an upper body free weight workout, dumbbell hammer curls can help both experienced athletes and beginners to build muscle. One of the best parts about choosing dumbbells is that you can find weights that are as light or as heavy as you want. Stick to free weights if you’re still new to barbells to reduce your risk of injury.
The classic squat is one of the most accessible ways to start incorporating lower body compound exercises into your routine. With or without weights, you’ll be targeting your lower back and core as well as your quads, hamstrings and hip flexors. Change up your routine and include bulgarian split squats, front squats and goblet squats in your workouts.
Step ups aren’t just an exercise you can perform in the gym. While a stepper machine is a handy addition to any workout, all you need is a box or step to use at home. It really helps to tone your leg muscles, but you can also get in some cardio too if you pick up the pace.
You might already have this move in your upper body free weight workout, but kettlebell swings actually work both your lower and upper body. Targeting your hamstrings and glutes as well as your arms, this is a true full body workout. If you’ve never done a kettlebell swing before, start by holding the weight in both hands. Hold it on the floor in front of your feet and bend your knees while hinging from the hips. Swing the kettlebell between your legs a few times before reaching your arms up and out in front of you.
Deadlifts are often associated with upper body training, but they will actually work your whole body from your hamstrings through your core and lower back to your arms. The key to a successful deadlift is maintaining the correct form. If you’re unsure about this, ask a trainer at your local gym to give you a run-through.
Now that you have a good idea of what kinds of exercises can make up your full body compound workout, it’s time to think about putting them together. The way you structure your training routine will depend on you and your body. You’ll probably already have a good idea of what you can and can’t handle, so make sure you don’t push your muscles too hard before they’re ready. If in doubt, consult a personal trainer or physiotherapist to give you some advice.
Generally, the key to starting a full body compound workout is rotation and variety. Try not to train the same muscle groups several days in a row and take rest days where needed. While you will be working more than one muscle group during compound movements, some days you may focus on your lower or upper body depending on the intensity of your routine the day before.
It’s a myth that you need to workout every day to see results, but sticking to a schedule is important, especially if you struggle to show up and put in the work. Planning ahead will help you to maximise the time you have and keep you accountable, whether you’re training at the gym or at home.
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