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Compound strength movements bring many benefits

Compound strength movements result in compound benefits. That's good news, but there's more: You can do these movements in the comfort of your own home using hand weights or simply your body weight. And you will be training your body with so many creative movements that it will almost feel like fun, or at the very least, enjoyable. So, just what is the difference between weight-training exercises that use compound movements and isolation exercises? Compound exercises are multijoint movements that engage more than one muscle group at a time, while isolation exercises target only one joint and one main muscle group. Biceps curls are an example of an isolation movement, as you are involving only the elbow joint and the biceps muscle group. When you add a squat or a lunge with the biceps curls, you create a compound movement. You are now working the biceps and some lower body muscles, such as the quadriceps (front of thighs), hamstrings (back of thighs), glutes, lower back and calves. Isolation exercises do have their place, however, particularly during physical therapy to correct a specific muscle imbalance or weakness after injury or surgery.

Why compound movements?

They're more functional: These exercises simulate real-life movements. Most daily activities, including many sports, involve moving several joints at one time. Squats and lunges are two examples of multiple muscle groups that, when strengthened, make it easier for you to get in and out of a chair, or to bend your knees while picking something up.

They burn more calories: Combining lower-body movements with upper-body movements will increase your heart rate, which means you will be adding a dash of cardio to your strength workout, increasing calorie burn.

They add intensity: Involving more muscle groups at the same time will allow you to lift heavier weights and build more strength.

They shorten workout time: You can select eight to 10 movements that will activate those major muscles, cutting the average workout time in half.

They build core strength: Core-strengthening exercises are most effective when using multijoint movements that include abdominals, middle and lower back, shoulders and chest. A strong core helps to protect your back and improve posture, balance and coordination.

They reduce your risk of injury: Because you will be training your body as a whole, you avoid muscular imbalances, lessening your chances of being hurt, whether you are playing sports, exercising or just performing everyday activities.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Sally Anderson is happy to hear from readers but can't respond to individual inquiries. Contact her at

Perform 10 repetitions of each compound movement, then change sides and repeat with other side. These exercises target the lower body, abdominals and upper body and help to improve balance.

Squat with one-arm shoulder press: Standing tall with feet hip distance apart, hold one weight in your right hand, shoulder level, palm facing in; extend your left arm at shoulder height. Bend your knees, lowering into a squat position and keeping your chest open while pushing your hips to the back. Push into your heels to stand up with a right leg knee lift, pressing weight overhead; avoid locking your elbows. Lower weight to shoulder level and repeat the squat and shoulder press.

Variation of the wood chop: Standing tall, abdominals contracted, hold one weight overhead with both hands. Slightly rotate your upper body to the right as you bring the weight diagonally across your body toward the outside of your right hip as you lift the right knee. Touching your foot to the floor, return the weight to the original position and repeat.

Reverse lunge with hammer curl: Hold a weight in each hand with palms facing in and elbows tucked in to your sides. Keeping your back straight, lower your hips by taking a big step to the back with your left foot, chest lifted, head up and abdominals contracted, front knee near parallel to the floor and back heel lifted off the floor. As you begin to lower your hips, curl your arms from the elbows, bringing the weights toward your shoulders while keeping your upper arms stationary. Press your arms down as you return to a standing position.

Compound strength movements bring many benefits 04/25/16 [Last modified: Monday, April 25, 2016 1:22pm]
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