Top 8 Compound Lifts for Maximum Size and Strength

Multi-joint moves are what the most time-efficient workouts are made of! Add these 8 compound lifts to your routine and get superior workouts with better results for less time!

Exercises can be classified as either compound or isolation exercises. The first are the ones which involve multiple joints and more than one muscle group, while the latter are exercises which target only one muscle group and work it to exhaustion. While both types of exercises deserve a place in a well-balanced workout regimen, if you were to choose one of them as the backbone of your muscle-building trainings, pick compound lifts because they are far more efficient. These exercises stimulate multiple muscle groups at the same time, thus creating the greatest change in body composition with the added bonus of developing your body in a proportionate, highly aesthetic manner.

Compound lifts generally require more balance and strong core muscles, which then allows for the use of heavier weights, and going heavy yields better results. The ability to be able to handle heavier weights always translates into heightened intensity, improved performance and increased muscle mass. The following is a list of 8 best muscle-building compound moves, along with some important tips that will help you get the most bang for your buck!

#1. Barbell Bench Press


This all-time bodybuilders’ favorite targets the chest, the anterior delts and the tri’s, hitting them with precision and intensity that stimulate muscle growth. Add the bench press to your workout to build your strength for push-ups and improve your overall power in sports performance. To squeeze the most pec-development benefits out of it, make sure to keep your rib cage high, lower back arched and shoulders down.

#2. Dips


Here we have another bodybuilding classic. Performing dips regularly will help you build serious upper body mass and strength, mostly because of the unique mechanic of the movement. Doing dips will also help you improve your performance on the overhead press and bench press by improving lockout strength. To increase focus on the chest, keep your torso leaned forward about 45 degrees through the set; if you’d like to target the triceps more, keep your torso straight.

#3. Barbell Deadlift


The deadlift is the king of mass builders and there’s no denying that. When done correctly, this quintessential exercise is not only perfectly safe, but it’s also insanely effective for building mass all over the body. It mostly targets the thighs, hams, lower back, traps and forearms, but in fact it works the entire body from the neck to the thighs. For maximum results, come to a dead stop on each rep instead of rebounding the bar off the floor.

#4. Squat


If you’ve been into fitness for a while, you know about the powerful gains of regularly performing squats. This great exercise doesn’t just help you achieve muscular, incredibly toned legs – it also promotes muscle building in the entire body by creating a strong anabolic environment. It’s a multifunctional exercise that will build your quads, hams, calves, abs, lower back and glutes. To get the most of it, make sure to keep your head up and lower back slightly arched. The bar should be set on your upper traps as you slowly squat to a position where your thighs are just below parallel to the ground.

#5. Bent-Over Row


The bent-over row is a compound lift that can increase overall strength and muscle mass of the back muscles and can play a significant role in deadlifting and pulling performance. When performed correctly, it exhaust the latissimus dorsi, the posterior shoulders, the rhomboids, the forearms and biceps, the spinal erectors and to a lesser extent, the hams and glutes. Additionally, it works the legs and the core by forcing them to stabilize your body during the exercise. To do it properly, keep your knees slightly bend to help support the lower back. To activate the lats better, pull the bar to the belly button – to hit the upper back, pull it to the chest.

#6. Pull-Up


The biggest benefits of doing pull-ups are the strengthening of your back muscles (specifically the lats), preventing or reversing muscular imbalances that can result from too many upper body pushing movements and building a powerful core that will improve your performance on all lifts. To stimulate different parts of the back, change the width of your grip once in a while and experiment with pulling to the upper, mid and lower chest.

#7. Military Press


The military press is often said to be the key move for building strong shoulders. This move works your anterior delts, upper pecs and triceps, and helps you build and support a stronger bench, stronger lockout, more stable core and much more. Everyone can benefit from having a strong overhead press, but for bodybuilders it’s a must! To build total body strength, perform the movement while standing. Also, make sure not to lean back too far.

#8. Close-Grip Bench Press


The close-grip bench press is unique in its versatility – since it allows you to safely handle the heaviest loads of any triceps exercise, it can be used as a means to achieve a wide variety of goals. While performing it, your tri’s will get assistance from the chest and front delts, and your torso will act as a stable base of support. Because of heavy loads and the long range of motion, it is the ultimate exercise for gaining strength and maximizing muscle gains at the same time. Use a grip set about 6-8 inches apart and lower the bar to about nipple level.