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Best Compound Movements for Muscle Building

What Are Compound Exercises?

Compound lifts are movements that use multiple joints and multiple muscle groups in the same exercise. Compound movements can be loaded heavily and done over a large range of motion making them great “bang for your buck” exercises.The most well-known compound lifts would be the squat, bench press, and deadlift. In powerlifting circles, these lifts are called the big 3. These lifts are considered cornerstone exercises for strength training programs because of their many benefits

  • Full Body Workout: You can design a comprehensive full-body workout based around just the big 3 lifts. These exercises work multiple muscle groups in the upper and lower body.
  • Increased Strength: These exercises are excellent movements for increasing your relative and absolute strength. Because these movements engage multiple muscle groups and lend themselves well to progressive overload, they’re efficient exercises in a program focused on increasing strength.
  • Improved Functionality: The big 3 exercises mimic some of the common movement patterns someone would do in regular activities of daily living. The squat and deadlift are like movements someone would do when they’re picking up an object, especially something heavy. And the bench press develops upper body strength that makes it easier to carry things.
  • Increased Muscular Development: While you don’t have to rely on the big 3 exclusively to build muscle, they are efficient exercises to stress large muscle groups. And if you have traditionally relied on machine exercises for muscle building, adding in these large compound movements to your routine can be an easy way to increase the amount of load you expose yourself to.

Because of this compound movements are staples in training programs designed for building muscle, increasing strength, and athleticism. Some people find the technical requirements of compound movements intimidating and miss out on their many benefits. Luckily, 4x World Champion Sadik Hadzovic shared with us some key takeaways to mastering the big 3 compound movements.

Mastering the Bench Press

  • The king of all chest movements.
  • Many people can’t activate their chest on this movement. They get a great triceps and front deltoid pump but never target the chest. Rotate your shoulder blades back and down, this way you can activate more chest.
  • You have to have a strong foundation, similar to building a house, our base is going to be our heels. We’re going to make sure we’re driving to the floor with our heels and keeping our core tight.
  • We’re trying to make the reps count, so don’t bounce the weight off your chest. You must control the weight. Full range of motion, keep a slow and steady tempo.
  • If you’re training for aesthetics, you want to keep the reps somewhere between 8 and 12 repetitions. And if you’re training for strength, we’re going to keep the rep range between 4 and 6 repetitions.

Mastering the Barbell Back Squat

  • The barbell back squat is the bench press of the lower body.
  • A major takeaway for the barbell back squat is the positioning of our feet. Our stance is going to determine so much, a wide stance or a narrow stance. The stance we choose is going to affect whether we hit our outer or inner quads. When I’m training to get the quad sweep, I like to stay within shoulder width stance.
  • Also worth noting is the range of motion. Do we stop at parallel or are we going below parallel? The answer to that question is going to depend on your flexibility and overall range of motion. But both are extremely effective. I go a little below parallel, but I don’t crash down with the weight, I control the descent.
  • Control and tempo. It’s so important for injury prevention. We want to control the descent with the barbell and not put unnecessary stress and load on our knees, instead we want to keep this stress on our quads. I keep my core tight and stay locked in and engaged. Controlling the weight on the way down.
  • The squat is something that I like to do at least once per week. I love this exercise because you’re stimulating your central nervous system and it’s going to allow your upper body to actually get bigger.

Mastering the Deadlift

  • This is my favorite compound movement. The barbell deadlift is an advanced movement.
  • The #1 takeaway here is I want you to focus on your posture. I want to make sure my legs are shoulder distance apart. Then I kneel down and grip the bar, you want to have strong hands.
  • It’s important to sit low and sit back into the lift. Hands and feet are always shoulder width apart. I want you to visualize pushing off the floor with your heels. I like to visualize a leg press. I’m pushing the floor away as I’m executing the movement.
  • After that, rotate back and sit back, you heard me talk about the imaginary chair. I start seated and I drive up with my legs and pull through with my hips. Then back down controlled. I pause and reset before I do my next rep.

These are the top 3 compound movements that are critical for your success. If you’re on a mission to take your physique to the next level, it’s essential to incorporate these to your daily routine. - Sadik

Sample Big 3 Workout Plan

Here's a sample 3-day workout template based on the big 3 compound movements - bench press, back squat, and deadlift:

Day 1 - Bench Press (Workout A)

  • Barbell Bench Press - 4 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Incline Dumbbell press - 3 x 10-12 reps
  • Chest Flys - 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Triceps Pushdowns - 3 x 10-12 reps

Day 2 - Back Squat (Workout B)

  • Barbell Back Squat - 4 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Leg Extension - 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Leg Curls - 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Calf Raises - 3 sets x 10-12 reps

Day 3 - Deadlift (Workout C)

  • Deadlift - 4 sets x 6-8 reps
  • Pull-Ups - 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Seated Cable Rows - 3 sets x 10-12 reps
  • Bicep Curls - 3 sets x 10-12 reps

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Date September 22, 2021
Category Training