Compound Exercises Are the Key to Big Gains - Deepstash
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The Big Three Exercises

The Big Three Exercises

If you’ve ever watched a powerlifting competition, you know that the athletes compete in three events: deadlift, squat, and bench press. But even if you’ve never witnessed those strong competitors move mind-boggling amounts of iron, odds are that those very same exercises—or at least variations of them—are the bedrock of your training program. Sure, your workouts are filled with countless other moves, but the one you perform first in each workout while your muscles are still fresh is likely one of the “big three.”


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Compound Movements

Compound Movements

Compared to isolation exercises such as the biceps curl, dumbbell fly, and calf raise, which target a single muscle group and move a single joint, compound (multi-muscle, multi-joint) movements provide significantly more bang for your strength-training buck. Indeed, by recruiting and engaging more lean mass, compound exercises can help you build more of it as well.


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Multi-Muscle Movement: The Challenge

Multi-Muscle Movement: The Challenge

These exercises require several muscle groups spanning at least two joints to work together to get the job done. If even one of them isn’t up to the task (e.g., because it's fatigued or not yet strong enough to pull its own weight), the rest of the team (read: your body) suffers, leading to sub-par performance and sub-optimal results.


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The Bottom Line

Skew the balance of the exercises in your training plan toward compound exercises, performing the most heavily loaded ones and those that place a premium on relative strength (e.g., pullup, chinup) at the beginning of your workouts. That will ensure that every muscle involved is able to exert its full strength.

But don’t discount the value of isolation exercises either. Sometimes laser-focusing on a single muscle group is exactly what’s required to bust through a plateau, jumpstart hypertrophy, or strengthen a weak link that has been holding you back in a compound move.


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