Compound lifting or compound exercise is fairly loose term, which covers exercises that require multi-joint movement. A great example of a compound exercise is a deadlift, this activates extension of both the hip and knee joints. In contrast a bicep curl isn’t a compound lift, as it only leads to flexion of the elbow, this is therefore referred to as an ‘isolation exercise’, which has its place within the remit of bodybuilding and some functions in sports – such as pulling players to the floor in rugby – however within the sporting arena, compound exercises are more relevant and will be the sole be focus within this article
The difference between these two exercise becomes apparent when you assess the discrepancy in muscle engagement. Due to the multitude of joint engagement when performing a compound exercise, there is far more demand on more muscle groups, which has a profound beneficial effect on the body, thus leading to some profound physiological benefits:
Increased hormone secretion
These exhaustive bouts of training will stimulate glands in the body to increase growth hormone and testosterone. Growth hormone is also referred to as ‘the fountain of youth’ and allows the tissues of the body to repair sufficiently. Furthermore, this type of weight training also increases the male sex hormone: testosterone, which aids the training recovery process.
Reduced body fat
The oxygen demand when you perform compound lifting is incredibly high due to the amount of muscle cells which require energy. This leads to an increased heart rate, which in turn increases the body’s metabolic rate, not only during training but also for periods of time post-training. Therefore this type of exercise – when perform with minimal rest – will lead to you burning more calories Vs isolation exercise if both set and rep amounts are equated.
If you are time short, compound lifting is a great way to squeeze in an intense, robust training session without sacrificing precious time. This is simply because you are targeting so many muscle groups with just one exercise, as opposed to isolation training, which is far less time efficient as this form of training only hits one muscle group per exercise.
Improved power output
Some of the more complex compound exercises such as clean and jerk and snatches require the development of progressive power output, beginning at the legs to create the initial drive and moving upward towards the hips and upper extremities. An exercise like this is great for improving several sports that require explosive bouts of power, such as rugby, american football and throwing events in track and field.
Complex compound exercises such as these also put your body into a big oxygen debt, due to the amount of muscles used during the lifting process (even more so then the ones mentioned in point 2). This is a great way to progress from compound exercises such as deadlifts and squats and further boost metabolism and burn off lots of fat.
Compound lifting for bone density
By now we all know the profound benefits of compound lifting for the muscles, but there are also big benefits for bone health. The strain placeon the body by the weights breaks the bone down, allowing it to rebuild effectively into a stronger version. This is especially beneficial for elderly populations who will suffer from poor bone health. Seek assistance from a fitness professional to ensure you get the correct training programme and that you’re using correct technique and aim to progressively increase the weight you’reusing to maintain good bone density.