It is possible to get a superior workout without spending hours in the gym. The key is in learning how to build a program composed of compound exercises, and be coached on the correct technique to keep yourself injury free. I will provide you with some theory as to why compounds need to appear in your next work out as whatever shape you are, these key exercises are time efficient and will progressively transform your body.

Exercises can be classified either as compound – which are exercises that involve more than one muscle group (eg a Press Up involves chest, shoulders and triceps) or isolation exercises – which are exercises that isolate a muscle group (eg a bicep curl).

For the most efficient workouts, compound exercises are recommended because including 5 or 6 of these exercises can stimulate all the major muscles in the body and create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest time. As an added bonus, compound exercises help develop the body proportionately and create a balanced silhouette.

Because they use multiple muscle groups, compound exercises demand a great deal of energy and oxygen causing your cardiovascular system to work super hard to supply each muscle tissue with all it needs. Your heart and breathing rate will increase when lifting weights during such exercises and you will really feel the calories burn!

It is your metabolism that determines how effectively your body uses the energy it receives from food and therefore regulates your weight. Compound exercises send your metabolism into overdrive not only during training but for many hours after as your body recovers, repairs and replenishes itself after all it’s efforts.  So it is possible to be burning calories in your sleep or sat on the sofa- providing you fuel your body with enough good, clean food post-training!

Not only do compound exercises help to regulate body composition (the ratio of fat : lean muscle) they also trigger the greatest release of two hormones that are crucial for us to look and feel fantastic : testosterone (yes even us ladies benefit from raised levels) and human growth hormone which keeps us fighting fit.

Here are 6 Key Compound exercises:


Press ups

Bench Press



Shoulder Press

Pull ups / downs


**It is very important to perfect the technique of each exercise with a professional before including them in your work out **

A single work out can consist of back to back compound exercises only or it may be that you pick two or three to include in your workout involving isolation or other types of exercise.  An example of sets and reps for each exercise is suggested below and they should always follow a full body warm up:


Barbell Squats          5 sets of 10 reps

Pull ups (assisted)    5 sets of 10- 8 reps

Bench Press     4 sets of 10 reps

Lunges with dumbbells    4 sets of 12 reps (2 sets each leg)

Deadlifts            5 sets of 10 – 8 reps

Press ups                 3 sets of as many reps before failure and loss of technique

Shoulder Press        5 sets of 5 reps


The weight that you work with should feel very challenging by the time you reach the last two reps and an effective way to train is to increase the weight each set until you reach this point.

Isolation exercises place the emphasis on a single muscle and should also be included in your weekly training schedule as they are a means of shaping and sculpting your body. A couple of examples are: hamstring curl, calf raise, tricep extension but there are far too many to list in this article and you will have experience of many of them yourself. Isolation exercises provide the detail but compounds build the body!

Here is my client Catherine demonstrating a couple of compound exercises – ladies notice how lean and “unbulky” she is!

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One thought on “Let’s get back to basics with CRUCIAL COMPOUNDS

  1. Rachael

    ******************************SPECIAL OFFER ***********************************

    45 minute Personal Training Compound exercise technique session £20 👊🏼

    As a follow up from this article, I am offering you the opportunity to work with me for a single session to learn how to lift the appropriate weight for you with the correct form for 8 compound exercises. We will record your details along with notes on technique on the programme sheet and this will then allow you to include compound exercises safely in your own workouts! Please get in touch to book a session.

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