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Top 5 Compound Exercises For Maximum Muscle Development

Compound exercises are multi-joint exercises. This means that they involve more than one joint, and utilize more than one muscle group, unlike isolation exercises (in which not many muscle fibers are targeted). Multiple joints are utilized with free weight compound exercises, and are recommended for increasing muscle size and strength. You should always start your workouts with these exercises before moving to isolation exercises for high nervous system activation and maximal muscle recruitment.

Muscles do not grow during the workout, but afterwards, when muscle tissue starts rehabilitating. Muscles actually get “damaged” when you perform hard workouts. When trauma or damage is caused, satellite cells are multiplied in order to achieve muscle tissue recovery. These cells are located on the outer surface of muscle fibers, are mobile, and their purpose is to optimize the environment for growth, maintenance, and muscle tissues. It is during this process that muscle cells repair and grow. The following five compound exercises are intense, cause multiple-muscle contractions, and help in releasing hormones which are essential for muscular development, such as testosterone and growth hormones.



Top 5 compound exercises

Of all the compound exercises, deadlifts are the most comprehensive, working a great deal of muscles at once in a single movement. There are many variations of this exercise, like sumo, trap bar, Romanian, and barbell deadlifts. For performing a barbell deadlift, stand with your feet apart at hip-width, under the bar. Grip the bar with one hand under and one hand under, or over-hand. Lift the barbell by pushing with your heels as you breathe out. Stand up and straighten your legs. As you approach the standing position, pull your shoulder blades together, and drive your hips through the bar. Slowly return to the starting position by bending your knees and hips and leaning forward at the waist, while breathing in and keeping your back straight.


Shoulder Press

Shoulder press

Stand or take a sitting position on a military bench or a utility bench that has a back support. Bend your elbows, grip a dumbbell or a barbell facing you at shoulder height, with your palms facing forward. Press the weight overhead, towards the ceiling, fully extending your arms, and hold. Take the weight back to its starting position slowly, while contracting your abdominal muscles, so as to avoid arching your back. The purpose of this exercise is strengthening your core muscles (lower back and abdominals), and upper body muscles. Perform 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions.


Bench Press

Bench press

Lie with your back on a flat bench. Using a medium grip width, lift the bar from the rack and hold it straight over you with your arms nearly locked. This will be your starting position. Breathe in, and begin coming down slowly, until the bar nearly touches your middle chest. Make a pause, and push the bar back to the starting position. Focus on pushing the bar using your chest muscles. Lock your arms, squeeze your chest in a contracted position at the top of the motion, and hold. Then start coming down slowly again. For upper-body strength gain, the bench press is one of the best core exercises. Elbow and shoulder joints move in order to perform the chest press. Chest muscles contract to move the shoulder joint, while straightening the elbow is done by triceps muscles. Perform 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions, and always have a spotter there to help you not to get trapped under the weight if you cannot get one of the final presses up.



squat girl

Squat exercises activate your quadriceps, lower back, glutes, calves and hamstrings. Set the bar on a rack that best matches your height. Load the barbell up with the desired weight, and step by placing the back of your shoulders under it. Lift the bar from the rack by pushing simultaneously with your legs and torso. Then, step away from the rack and position your legs to a shoulder-width medium stance, keep your head up at all times and maintain a straight back. Starting from this position, slowly lower the bar by sitting back with your hips as if you were going to sit on a chair. Maintain the arch in your back and keep your head up as you descend. Continue lowering the weight until your hips and knees form a line parallel to the floor. Exhale and lift the bar back to the starting position. To get the maximum out of your training, hire a personal fitness trainer to help you perform properly. Complete 3-4 sets of 12-15 repetitions.


Alternating Cable Shoulder Press


Move the cables to the bottom of the tower, and set the desired weight. Grasp and hold them at shoulder height with your palms facing forward. From this starting position, extend the elbow to press one side directly overhead, while keeping your head and chest up. Pause and then return to the starting position, and repeat on the opposite side.

Do not try to chase bigger muscle gains by jumping from one routine to another. Find the one that suits you and follow it consistently. Fuel your body with enough quality proteins, carbs and fish-oil. Compound exercises will reduce your time in the gym (which you would spend on performing various isolated exercises), and cause the greatest release of anabolic hormones, necessary for muscle growth. That will give you more time to focus on other exercises, such as flexibility and cardio.  



Mathews McGarry is passionate about many forms of strength training, and spent years lifting, dragging and flipping all manner of heavy objects. After graduating from the Faculty of Health Sciences, he started writing about his experiences, and sharing tips for better life. Follow him on Twitter.


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