Compound movements are multi-joint (two or more) movements that work several muscles or muscle groups in one movement. A great and classic example of a compound movement is the squat. Squats involve both the hip, knee, and ankle joints as well as quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, core, and back. They tend to burn more calories (compared to isolation movements like a leg extension) because of the higher amount of muscles involved.
Examples of Compound Movements Include:
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
- Kettlebell Swings
In terms of mass building and fat burning, compound exercises are supreme. You will be able to move heavier weights and stimulate more change in the body using these bigger lifts.
If you need more convincing, take a recent study done by Dr. Brad Schoenfeld where he looked at two different types of splits for training – Full Body or Split Body Parts.
Nineteen men (all of which had four or more years lifting experience) were assigned one of two different workout programs. There were 21 different exercises that were spread out over a 3 day per week workout program. Each group performed the same number of exercises per week (3 sets of 8-12) over an eight week period. The difference came in the splits, the total body group trained muscle groups twice per week and body split group only once (focusing on two to three per session). The outcome? The full body split dominated.
In terms of results, if you want to build muscle, you need to work them out more. Those who did full body workouts got better results because muscle groups were stimulated twice a week. Overall, full body splits caused you to work harder and stimulate more growth.
What does this mean for you? The amount of time you can consistently dedicate to your workout program will determine the split that works best. If you are lucky enough, able, and willing to work out five to six days per week, doing body splits may be best. Most people can only workout two to three days per week. For them, full body will give them the biggest bang for the buck. Those new to working out will benefit most from doing full body splits, as you advance you can split body parts up.
The Takeaway: Train at least three times per week, focusing on full body workouts with compound movements.