Compound Exercises: How to Get More With So Little Gym Time

A lot of people are interested in working out at the gym but they are apprehensive because they don’t have enough time to go through a complete exercise routine that can work out the entire body. For these people, it is now possible for them to get more out of their gym time even if they are pressed for time. There is an amazing workout that can be used to maximize one’s time in the gym – doing compound exercises.


What Is Compound Exercise?


Compound exercise is definitely the best solution to opt for when the goal is to exercise every muscle in the body without spending too much time. With compound exercises, more than one group of muscles can be exercised simultaneously. One set of compound exercise (usually with eight to ten repetitions) can easily help proportionately tone the body.


Performing compound exercises recruits more muscle groups. For example, the compound exercise “bench press” works out the muscle groups found in the triceps, shoulders, chest. On the other hand, “bicep curls”, which is an isolation exercise with the same nature as bench press, only stimulates the biceps muscles. Here are some examples of compound exercise that can be done at the gym even when pressed for time.


Barbell Squat


This is considered to be at the top of the list of lower body exercises. With the barbell squat, the major muscles located in the calves, thighs, and butt can be exercised simultaneously. The positive effect of squatting for the body include strengthening the back and stomach muscles, effectively improving body balance. One set of barbell squats should include eight to twelve repetitions.


Abdominal Bicycle


The abdominal bicycle is one of the abdominal exercises targeting the entire abdominal muscle. It is also an exercise that stimulates the lower, upper, and side regions. Basically done on the floor, one set of abdominal bicycle takes eight to twelve repetitions as well.


Dumbbell Shoulder Press


The dumbbell shoulder press is another compound exercise worth doing within a short period of time. This is a perfect exercise to develop not only the shoulders but also the neck and upper back. In addition, this is the kind of compound exercise used to tone the back of the arms.


Wide-Grip Lat Pull-Down


With the wide-grip lat pull-downs, the back muscle will surely develop perfectly. It will take a good shape in no time as long as this compound exercise is included in the gym workout routine. Even if there is no bicep curls included in the workout routine, the arms will be properly toned and will take a good shape with just a repetition of wide-grip lat pull-downs. There are also many pull up bar workouts for the more advanced athletes


One-Arm Dumbbell Row


If the purpose of working out is to develop the mid- and upper-back muscles as well as the shoulder’s rear head, then the compound exercise named One-Arm Dumbbell Row is the perfect set to take. This takes center stage for developing the said muscles. In addition, it can perfectly assist in developing the forearms and biceps.


Barbell Bench Press


For the upper body, traditional bench press should be enough. This is actually the kind of exercise that can be considered as a staple when it comes to chest development. Bench press can easily work all the major muscles found in the chest as well as the other muscles found in the arms and shoulders.


Dumbbell Lunges


Another compound exercise to help with lower-body development, dumbbell lunges are typical multi-joint exercises  that greatly double the effects of isolation exercises such as leg curls and leg extensions. The lunges can work the lower-body muscles, back, and abs. It is also perfect in shaping the hamstrings and glutes.


How Many Sets to Do For Compound Exercises?


One set of compound exercises take eight to twelve repetitions. When going to the gym, one set of compound exercises should be enough. This one set is actually designed to help the body reach muscle fatigue. Reaching muscle fatigue basically means that the last few repetitions of the said exercise will become a challenge but will help create the positive effect every individual is striving for. Once the body reaches muscle fatigue, the muscles will undergo change in the shortest time possible.


For those who are working out using compound exercises for the first time, it is fine if one cannot complete the 12 repetitions. Gradually increasing the number of repetitions that can be completed at every workout is also a good way to make the most out of the effects of the compound exercises. The first priority when it comes to compound exercise is to achieve the perfect form instead of completing the twelve repetitions.


Once the perfect form has been achieved, the next goal is to increase the weights for the next workout. The effect of the workout will also increase as the weights are increased. Also, don’t forget to workout with an alternating schedule, e.g. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This way, the muscles will have sufficient time to rest and recover.


Is Warming Up Necessary?


Compound exercises are time-efficient muscle builders. But the effects won’t be enjoyed if one does not warm up properly. Warming up the muscles can be done by performing simple exercises like jumping jacks or walking on the treadmill. No matter if it is compound exercise or not, warming up is an essential part of any workout program.


Warming up is essential simply because it is what conditions the body for exercise. It helps increase the blood flow not only to the exercising muscles but to the heart as well. Skipping this workout essential poses a lot of problems as it puts the body at risk of injuries and heartaches. It is imperative to take a few minutes to prepare the muscles before going through the rigorous exercise routine.


How About Cooling Down?


Yes, cooling down is also essential when working out at the gym. And by cooling down, that doesn’t mean to hit the showers immediately. Proper cooling down takes more than that. Some of the cool down exercises that can be done after doing some rigorous compound exercises include stretches or slow walking for five minutes.


Cooling down is certainly an important part of the workout routine. Properly cooling down allows the body to return to its condition before exercising. Properly cooling down significantly reduces muscle soreness too.




There should be no more reason for not visiting the gym because even a few sets of compound exercises can take care of the entire body even when you are pressed for time. Working out using compound exercises is basically a smart way of exercising nowadays. Of course, make sure to sleep enough, eat properly, and maintain a positive disposition as well. The body can be kept healthy and fit with the right combination of exercise, attitude, sleep, and diet.

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