Full-body compound exercises offer an efficient way to work out, by working several muscle groups at once and taxing your cardiovascular system. This is a great asset for busy women who barely have time to make it to the gym as it is. With just a few full-body compound exercises you can be in and out of the gym in a matter of minutes but have a body that looks like you spend hours working out. Perform two to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise.
The thruster is a full-body compound exercise that combines a front squat with an overhead press. This exercise will target your hips, glutes, thighs, back, core, arms and shoulders. Begin by holding a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder level with your elbows bent. Adjust your feet to at least hip-width apart. Contract your abdomen, straighten your back then bend your hips and knees to lower into a squat. Continue down until your thighs reach horizontal. Exhale as you push through your heels to return to the standing position. As you near standing, use the momentum from your hips and legs to propel the weights upward. Press the weights overhead by extending your arms. That's one repetition. Lower the weights back to your shoulders to prepare for the next thruster.
The deadlift is a fundamental human movement and one of the most useful full-body compound exercises you can do. This exercise mimics the action of picking up something heavy off the floor, such as children, groceries, bags or all of the above. The deadlift works your hips, glutes, thighs, back, shoulders and core muscles. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place a challenging size dumbbell on the outside of either foot. Bend your hips and knees to lower into a squat and grasp the weights with an overhand grip. Stabilize your abdomen, straighten your back and look straight ahead. Maintain this position as you exhale and press through your heels to lift the weights and reach a standing position. As you near the top of the movement, push your hips forward and pull your shoulders back. Pause and then carefully return the weights to the ground.
Straight-Leg Deadlift with Row
This full-body compound exercise offers an effective way to work your hamstrings, glutes, back, core and arms in one fluid motion. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your arms extended at your sides. Adjust your feet to hip-width. Engage your stomach muscles and, keeping your back and legs straight, and bend forward at the waist allowing your arms to hang toward the floor. From here, pull the weights toward your chest by bending your elbows and lifting them close to your body as high as you can. Lower the weights back down and push your hips forward to return to the upright position. Keep your back straight throughout this exercise to avoid injury.
Lunge with Biceps Curl
Combining a lunge with a biceps curl allows you to work nearly every muscle in your lower body as well as your back, core and, of course, your biceps. Stand holding a dumbbell in each hand. Stabilize your abdomen, straighten your torso and take a large step forward with your right leg. Lunge into your right leg by bending your hips and right knee until your thigh reaches horizontal and your knee is bent to 90 degrees. As you lower into the lunge, bend your elbows to bring the weights toward your chest. Lower the weights then press through your right heel to return to the upright position. Repeat the exercise with your left leg.
Jen Weir writes for several websites, specializing in the health and fitness field. She holds a Bachelor of Science in exercise science from Montana State University, is an NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and maintains a personal trainer certification from the American College of Sports Medicine.