Compound Exercises & Weight Lifting Workouts

Get more bang for your buck with the bench press.
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Compound exercises are one of the most efficient ways to workout, since you can work multiple muscle groups at once. Beginners and advanced weightlifters can benefit from a full-body compound exercise regimen. The benefit is that you can target all the major muscle groups of the body without spending hours a day in the gym.

Muscle Groups

There are 13 major muscles groups in your body. However, you don’t have to do 13 different workouts to hit each of them -- that’s the beauty of compound exercises. You can combine the muscle groups even further if that makes it easier for you: Abdominals, arms, back, shoulders and legs. The most effective compound exercises work three or more of the 13 muscle groups at once.

Best Compound Exercises

Staple compound exercises everyone should use: barbell bench press, squats, military press, deadlifts, dips, pullups/chin ups, bent-over rows, upright rows, close-grip bench press, dumbbell lunges, exercise ball crunches, shrugs and triceps pullovers. Change up the exercises you use every few weeks to keep the workouts fresh and to keep you body from getting too comfortable with the same routine day in and day out.


A beginner-to-intermediate weightlifting plan consists of two resistance training workouts per week. Choose three or four exercises per workout, each targeting a different area of the body. The idea is to hit each muscle group at least once per week. A sample workout may include bench press, exercise ball crunches and chin ups. A second workout could start with squats, military press, dips and shoulder shrugs. Each workout should take about 30 to 45 minutes.

Sets, Reps and Weight

Shoot for three sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise. Rest one or two minutes between sets to make sure you have maximum energy for each subsequent set. Choosing the right weight for each exercise will take some experimenting on your part. The weight should be heavy enough that repetitions seven and eight are difficult to do. It’s a good idea to spend your first couple workouts practicing all of the compound exercises to get a feel for how much weight you can handle and to get comfortable with the various machines you’ll be using.

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