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You're Just "Compound"ing The Problem

When looking at the English language, there are millions upon millions of words that can be used to complete a sentence or express a thought. Some of these are actually comprised of two smaller words combined together to make a larger one (e.g. doghouse). Words such as boxcar and the example given above are known as compound words. Just like in any language, a workout (oh look another one) can be done in this way as well. That's the focus of this week's post.

The last sections articles have discussed topics in nutrition. Since this is a fitness blog, I figured we'll step away from that subject for a bit and return to why you started following my page in the first place.

Before getting into the heart of the matter, lets develop a background (oops I did it again) as to what a compound exercise is, why they are effective in addition to some of the minor risks involved with doing a workout of this type. Are you ready?

As the name implies, a compound exercise is one that incorporates two or more specific muscle groups in one complete movement. For example, a bridge with a chest fly works both the upper (pectorals in chest) and lower body (glutes and hamstrings) at the same time. See below for more exercise ideas you can incorporate into your fitness routine.

Earlier in this segment I mentioned these exercises as being effective. Most often this is true. Exceptions will follow in a future paragraph. Why do they work? Thank you for asking and there are several reasons. One being they create harmony in the body by forcing two sometimes polar opposite body parts to work together. While a simple exercise like walking uses the entire body, it is relatively easy and natural, thus, requiring very little thought. Others, however, are more detailed and demand more concentration.

Because of the learning curve sometimes required to master a compound exercise, they build coordination. Controlling the working body parts entails knowing what every involved muscle group(s) is/are doing throughout the entire movement. The saying practice makes perfect definitely applies here: the more you do it the better you get!

Last, but certainly not least, putting together a workout comprised of several compound exercises means you can get a lot done in a short period of time. In the five examples I will list at the bottom of this page, you can work the entire body in approximately 30 minutes! How cool is that? And some can be performed without equipment! That's a plus for those of you who don't have a gym membership.

Now for the opposing side. Although few and far between, and like any other activity in life, compound exercises can present a risk. Primarily, muscle strains due to improper form occur because these dictate (occasionally intense) focus on the whole kinetic chain. Rushing through a compound (or any) exercise is not recommended for this reason. Remembering to breathe during the movement is vital in order to be able to engage everything properly and ensure you can finish your rep. A full range of motion is crucial to benefitting from the movement. Holding ones breath shortens the movement pattern, takes oxygen away from the brain and working muscles, and can potentially cause injury.

So, keeping everything in mind, how do you put it all together in just five exercises? Well that's easy! At the end of this blog, you will find two different workouts which allow you to mix and match exercises that work every muscle from head to toe. Be creative and have fun! Let your imagination run wild and who knows, you may even invent one of your own!

If you are not sure what an exercise is or how to execute it correctly, you should be able to find some helpful tips online. You may also contact me personally...I'm here to assist in you in any way I can.

Workout #1

  • Crunch w/overhead press (upper abs & shoulders)

  • Sumo (wide) squat w/concentration curl (biceps & adductors)

  • Lawn mower row to triceps kickback (quads/hamstrings, upper back & triceps)

  • Bridge w/chest fly (glutes & chest)

  • Bicycles (obliques & lower abs)

Workout #2

  • Dead lift w/row to heel raise (hamstrings, rhomboid & calves)

  • Triceps press to pullover (triceps & lats)

  • Press out to preacher curl (shoulders & biceps)

  • Walking lunge w/twist (quads, glutes & obliques)

  • Chest press w/leg lift (chest & lower abs)

Bonus mix-in exercises:

  • Squat press (quads & shoulders)

  • Bicep curl to overhead press (biceps & shoulders)

  • Dead lift to upright row (hamstrings & shoulders)

  • Bridge w/cross body overhead reach (glutes & obliques)

  • Dead bug (lower abs & upper back)

  • Renegade row (abs & rhomboids)

  • Elbow plank w/rotation (upper abs, obliques & upper back)

See! You can do it! No problem! It really is that easy! Just pick a workout or substitute your favorite activities from the bonus list into your own workouts. Whatever you do, make sure to get up, get out and get moving! More workout formats coming in my next post so keep tuning in to learn how fun working out can be! Until next time, have a great week!

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