Compound Exercises: The Best For Burning Stubborn Fat?
When working towards fat loss, it’s all about combining the perfect balance of cardio and weight training. And obviously following a calorie-controlled diet to ensure you’re fueling your body correctly.
No – you don’t need to trudge on the treadmill for hours to lose the extra pounds. Instead, think about building a stronger, calorie-burning physique to fire up your metabolism and reach those stubborn areas of fat.
The best way to improve your calorie burning potential is to incorporate compound exercises into your training regime. Not only that, but adding Instant Knockout Cut into the mix as your training partner will maximize your results and make it even easier to meet your weight loss targets.
Back to compound exercises – these multi-joint moves target a collection of muscle groups to help you complete a full-body workout, crush the calories and beat stubborn fat for good.
In this article, the team at Instant Knockout take you through the best ones to add to your workouts and exactly how you should be performing them. First let’s see discover more about compound exercises in general.
What are compound exercises?
Compound exercises involve multiple muscle groups and elicit a great energy expenditure compared to isolated movements like the bicep curl1.
Because they demand so much of your body, you’ll burn more calories and ultimately lose fat.
For instance, the squat movement is a compound exercise that works the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves and even abdominals. That’s multiple joints and muscles across your body targeted in just one move!
There are benefits to both isolation and compound exercises. For example, isolation moves like the quadriceps extension are commonly used in settings such as physical therapy clinics and rehab centers to help correct a specific muscle imbalance or weakness that might occur after injury, sickness, surgery, or other conditions.
The main benefits of compound exercises are their efficiency and the fact they stimulate real life, functional movements.
If you only have a short amount of time to exercise, compound exercises should definitely be at the top of your training program. They may also help boost your flexibility, improve strength and muscle mass, and elevate your heart rate for cardiovascular health2.
So, which moves should you be focusing on most when it comes to compound lifts?
We detail six below. Many people tend to focus on completing compound lifts around three times a week, with isolation exercises more like twice a week3.
6 Compound Exercises to Include in your Workout
- Barbell Deadlift
The deadlift is a quintessential movement used in total body workouts. It involves many of the larger muscle groups in the posterior chain including the hamstrings, glutes, calves, trapezius and posterior deltoids (located at the rear of the shoulder).
It also works core strength and stability, and can be beneficial even at a light weight. It’s a good move if you need an alternative to the squat.
Completing the deadlift with a barbell targets your posterior chain more precisely and allows for a great amount of muscle engagement and stabilization, since you need to work to counterbalance the weight and ensure it doesn’t tip too far forwards or backwards.
Here’s how to do it:
- Set up a bar with a steady weight and position your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly under the bar, facing straight ahead. Your heels should be flat on the ground.
- Keeping your chest proud and lower back flat, hinge at the hips and bend the knees to pick up the barbell. You can use an overhand or mixed grip to hold the bar.
- Tighten your glutes and core as you bring the bar to a standing position. Make sure your arms are extended throughout the motion and breathe out on exertion.
- Keep the bar as close to your knees as you can and make sure it comes to rest at around thigh level. Pull your shoulders back without bending forwards.
- Bend your knees as you lower the bar back to the ground in a reverse motion, keeping your back flat and arms straight again.
- Dumbbell Bench Press
The bench press is a popular upper body move, targeting and building the muscles of the chest, triceps, and front deltoid shoulder muscles.
It’s a functional push exercise which can help with daily activities that involve carrying or pushing. Once you’ve mastered this move with a set of dumbbells, you could go onto a barbell which can help you lift more and restore muscle balance.
Here’s how to do it:
- Pick a set of dumbbells that you’ll feel comfortable with raising above your chest.
- Lie flat on bench with your feet firmly on the ground and hold a dumbbell in each hand just outside your shoulders.
- Lock your elbows bent at around 90-degrees and just under your torso. Your palms should be facing down towards your lower body.
- Inhale and press the dumbbells towards the ceiling, extending your elbows. When the dumbbells get close, stop and return back to the start position, repeat.
- Barbell Back Squat
Hailed the head of leg moves, the squat works every major muscle of your lower body and with more weight, can target your midsection and back muscles.
It places significant tension on your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and can strengthen the joints and ligaments surrounding the hips and knee.
Here’s how to do it:
First, if you’re new to this exercise you should practice the squat with your own bodyweight or work with a trainer to target the proper technique.
- Place your feet under the bar, rest it on your rear shoulder muscles and take it out of the rack. Maintain a wide stance as you take two steps back.
- Keeping the weight centered, press your hips back and bend at the knee almost into a sitting position.
- Go as low as you can, keeping the weight in your heels as you drive back up. That’s one rep.
Important tip: Compound movements are excellent. However, when they’re not performed with proper form, this can result in injury. This could also happen if you try and lift a weight that is too heavy for you. If you’re unsure, the best thing you can do is consult with a personal trainer or coach.
The lunge is an extremely beneficial exercise for flexibility and improving overall posture, as well as building the muscles of the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and calves. Think of it as a giant step forward.
The lunge can help if you have any issues keeping your balance and may improve your agility for everyday activities. It can be completed with a dumbbell, kettlebell or with your own bodyweight.
Here’s how to do it:
- Get yourself into a space where you can move forwards and backwards freely.
- Stand up straight with a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand, hanging your arms by your side.
- Keep your feet together no less than shoulder-width apart and take a big step forward with either leg.
- Bend at the knee until the front thigh is parallel to the ground and you land on your heel. Don’t let your toes go past your knee with the leg you step forwards with. Your rear leg should be bent at the knee behind you.
- Step back to your starting position, exhaling while you move.
- Repeat the motion with your other leg and alternate between each leg.
- Bent-Over Row
The bent over row is a crucial weight training exercise that targets the back muscles. With this move, you’ll mainly be focusing on your lats, rear delts as well as your biceps. The bent-over row will also work to improve your posture and spinal stability and involve some element of core strength.
You can complete the bent-over row with a barbell or dumbbell. For the explanation below, we use a dumbbell.
Here’s how to do it:
- Grab a medium-weight dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold the dumbbells down by your sides.
- Bend at the knee slightly and hinge forward at the hips until your chest is angled at around 45 degrees and parallel to the floor.
- With your wrists facing in, engage your core and flatten your back while you row the dumbbells up to around your ribs.
- Keep your arms tight by your side as you draw the dumbbells up. Inhale and slowly lower back to the starting position.
Push-ups are calisthenics for a total body strength workout. The sheer energy they require equals higher calorie burn and ultimately a greater amount of fat loss.
Although most people assume a push up is for exercising the arms only, it’s an entirely different story. They work every part of your upper body, developing your arms, back and midsection with each rep. What’s more, your legs also get challenged too.
Push-ups can be carried out in a variety of forms so whether you’re a beginner or professional, there’s a push up variation for you. Even better, they can done be pretty much anywhere.
Here’s how to do it:
- Get yourself into the plank position, with your arms fully extended and your hands flat on the floor. Your shoulders should be in line with your hands and elbows.
- Keep your feet less than shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your spine neutral and your core engaged as you lower yourself to the ground, letting your lower chest reach just past the level of your bent elbow.
- Push back up and keep to a good tempo with each rep.
The bottom line
If you’ve not added compound exercises to your training regime yet, it’s about time you should. They could raise your efforts in the gym and help you get the best out of your sessions for maximum fat burning results.
These six exercises are a good start and should be simple enough to carry out. If you’re not sure how best to perform a compound movement or which exercises suit you most, a personal trainer or coach can help.
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