Every great physique has been sculpted using a programme built around five core compound exercises. That’s because these exercises deliver greater benefits, rep for rep, due to a number factors.
Firstly, they target multiple muscle groups due to their multi-joint nature and also engage more stabiliser muscles than other exercises. By incorporating more muscles with each rep, these compound moves deliver better gains in size and strength, while also improving natural movement patterns. These are all essential elements for anyone who hopes to achieve superior aesthetic enhancement.
With more muscle fibres incorporated during these movements, they also cause the greatest amount of micro-trauma to muscle tissue. This is the stimulus needed to initiate the natural anabolic response that rebuilds muscle fibres, making them bigger and stronger than before when the right nutrition and optimal rest guidelines are followed.
This happens as the release of potent anabolic hormones is stimulated, such as testosterone, human growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor. A great deal of research has also shown the importance of these acute hormonal elevations, in response to the mechanical stimulus of heavy compound lifting, for the optimal regulation of steroid hormone receptors, which are needed to mediate these hormonal anabolic effects.
Levels of these anabolic hormones have also been shown to remain elevated for between 15-30 minutes after intense training with compound exercises, which further facilitates the muscle repair and growth process.
In addition, heavy compound exercises also help to strengthen the muscle’s supporting structures, like tendons, which attach the muscle to the skeletal system, which helps to reduce the risk of injury, and develops stronger, more cohesive musculoskeletal structures.
Master The Moves
The five essential exercises that every novice should master are the squat, deadlift, bench press, any overhead press and the pull-up. This is how to execute them with perfect form.
Place your feet flat on the floor beneath a loaded bar. Drop your hips down and grasp the bar with an overhand or mixed grip. Position your hands at shoulder-width or slightly wider apart. Lift the bar by extending your knees and driving your hips upwards. Keep the bar close to your body throughout the lift. Pull your shoulders back at the top of the lift and hold for a count. Return to the starting position by bending your knees and dropping your hips back. Keep your back straight and your knees pointed in the same direction as your feet throughout the entire movement.
Position yourself under a racked bar, placed at shoulder height. Place the bar on the back of your shoulders and grasp the bar on either side with a wide grip. Stand upright to dismount the bar from the rack and take a step backwards. Position your feet shoulder-width apart and keep a slight bend in the knees. With a straight back and your head facing forward, bend at the knees while allowing your hips to drop down and back. Keep your knees pointed in the same direction as your feet as you descend downwards. When your knees and hips are fully bent drive yourself upwards through your feet and heels as you extend your knees and hips. Drive yourself upwards until you reach the starting position.
- Flat bench presses
Lie on your back, under the bar, on a bench. Grasp the bar using a wide grip. Un-rack the bar and position it over your upper chest. Lower the weight to your mid-chest in a controlled manner. Press the bar back up until your arms are extended.
- Overhead presses
Either in a seated or standing position, grasp the the racked Olympic bar with a slightly wider than shoulder-width overhand grip. Un-rack the bar and position it near your upper chest. Press the bar up until your arms are extended overhead. Return the bar to your upper chest.
Stand under a pull-up bar. Grip the bar with a neutral grip. Pull yourself up, until your neck.