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What are Compound Moves?


Compound moves are multi-joint exercises that target a variety of muscles, allow for maximum muscle recruitment, strength gains and calorie burn.

(If done correctly and with good form), these moves activate the body’s major muscle groups to work together, systematically.

And why should you be including these in your training programmes? Well, you’re more likely to spend less time in the gym but get better results than if you were spending hours on isolation exercises. You’ll end up working more muscles overall making yourself a super time efficient machine. Using more than one muscle to lift free weights in the gym means that more weight can be lifted, more muscle activation can take place, more calories can be burnt, more strength gains can be made.

HOWEVER, no one should take away from this article that isolation exercises don’t have their place in a training regime. Isolation moves are essential to target individual muscles, to accentuate growth and their physical appearance.

So how do we use compound moves and which ones are they? Compound moves are the movements we make in every day life. Pulling, pushing, pressing, squatting, lifting… What’s more, these ‘functional training’ moves will make day to day tasks like lifting heavy boxes and pushing your broken down car easier. (You can thank us later).


For a compound move.. Squats. When you push your hips back and down and form is on point, core should be activated, glutes and quadriceps working hard and together.

For an isolation move.. Bicep curl. But your biceps will be flying solo, working on their own.

So which ones should I be spending my time on?

compound moves

Deadlifts – One of your best friends, often referred to as ‘deads’ (wonder why)…. works your hamstrings, glutes, quads, back, traps, arms, plus most of the other muscles in your body assuming it is performed appropriately. One of the main contributors to injury so if you’re unsure of what and how, ask a member of gym staff to show you the way. Big calorie burner and strength gainer building you a lean sculpted back and making you into a lean lifting machine.

compound moves

Squats – Often referred to as ‘the booty grower’.. Works your glutes, quads, core, back and upper body. The glutes – the biggest calorie burner in the body… have the opportunity to be shaped and transformed with the regular use of this exercise. Again, like the deadlift, ensure that you have someone who knows what they’re talking about check your form and postural alignment and if you start to feel any back pain, stop and seek advice.

compound moves

Bench Press – The Bench, routinely avoided by women for the fear of developing pecs of steel, is actually an essential part of your training programme regardless if you’re a man or woman. Not only does it target your chest, it also hits your shoulders, arms and back, tightening, toning and blasting fat from problem areas such as the backs of the arms where ‘bingo wings’ can sometimes make an appearance. Keep the bar over the chest and squeeze the shoulder blades together to open up the chest to do the work. Try to keep the eccentric part of the exercise (the lowering phase) super slow to activate as many muscle fibres as possible and keep them under tension. Benefits for guys? Bigger. fuller chest. Benefits for girls? A more pert chest.

compound moves

Bent Over Row – Underhand or over hand grip, hit full range movement by bringing the bar right up to the top of the bellybutton while squeezing the shoulder blades together to activate the mid-upper back. Besides being a super effective move for your upper body, this move also helps your body support itself and improves posture, so if you’re sat behind your desk all day make sure you give this exercise some attention. For men, this exercise is a lat builder so if you’re looking to increase size and width of your back, hit heavy, controlled reps with this exercise. Women, go for this exercise if you’re looking for a defined, toned look. Best to speak to a physician before trying if you have a history of back problems.



Usually found either in the fitness studio or baking clean treats, Emmanuelle’s passion lies in all things Group Ex, Training and Nutrition.

“Fitness provides you with an opportunity to discover something you didn’t know you were good and challenges you in a different way than you are in day-to-day life. People have the ability to totally transform themselves and be whoever they want to be.”

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