Training movements could be broken down into a food analogy: compound movements are the main ingredients like chicken is to a roasted chicken dish. The seasoning, vegetables, rice, etc. could be compared to isolation movements.

Compound exercises create the meat of the muscle-building process, while isolation movements add the finer details to the physique. It is possible to build mass utilising isolation movements, however, the process drags on longer than what it would if you were to toss a few compound exercises into the mix.

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that utilise more than one set of joints, incorporating a plethora of muscles. This results in more muscles being worked and, ultimately, more gains being made.

Say, for example, that you’re doing deadlifts. During the movement of the exercise (lifting the weight from the ground to your thighs), there will be movement in both your hip and knee joints. As a result, quads, hamstrings, and muscles of the back come together to generate the amount of force needed to rip that bar from the floor. If you’re doing a barbell overhead press, then the elbow and shoulder joints come into play, making use of the anterior and medial heads of the shoulder, triceps, and to a lesser extent, the traps and upper pecs.

To simplify things: more joints used in an exercise movement = more muscles used to perform said exercise = making all kinds of gains.

However, this doesn’t mean that you should concoct your own little exercise that has you using every single skeletal muscle available. We understand that you’re NUKE’d up and ready to go, but safety should precede your ego.



As with most exercise movements, compounds consist of either pulling or pushing movements.

As a general rule, compound movements that involve pulling mostly affects the posterior chain, i.e. the muscles of the back, the hamstrings, glutes, etc. While squats are a pushing exercise, it also largely incorporates the posterior chain to successfully drive through the movement. However, there are machines and techniques that you could put into place to reduce the involvement of the posterior chain during skwaats.


Nutritech athlete performing a bench press

As mentioned above, the opposite rings true—to an extent—for compound movements involving pushing, as this affects the anterior chain of the body, i.e. the pecs, quads, the anterior and medial heads of the shoulders, etc. Although, this should just be regarded as a general rule.

Deadlifts and squats affect both the anterior and posterior chains of the body as well as many stabilising muscles, which is why they are considered two of the best exercises that one could do for ultimate strength development.

There are a lot of exercises that fall into the compound category, and thus, adding a fair amount of variation will contribute to you making some sick gains, provided that your nutrition and supplementation are on point.


At first, it may sound a bit illogical to keep isolation movements to a minimum during a workout, however, when your goal is to maximise gains, it’s in your best interest to focus most of your energy on compound movements.



4 sets, 12-15 reps


4 sets, 8 reps

Walking Lunges

4 sets, 15 steps per leg


Flat Bench Press

4 sets, 12 reps

Chin Ups

50 reps (as many reps as possible until 50 are reached)

Military Press

5 sets, 10 reps

One-Arm Dumbbell Row

4 sets, 12 reps


Front Squat

4 sets, 12 reps

Leg Press

4 sets, 15 reps

Dumbbell Step Ups

5 sets, 12 reps


Incline Dumbbell Press

5 sets, 12 reps

Cable Rows

4 sets, 10 reps

Arnold Presses

4 sets, 12 reps

Bent-Over Underhand Barbell Rows

4 sets, 12 rep

Although compound movements are often used as strength development exercises, they are also perfectly suited for making mind-blowing gains at the same time, provided the correct rep range is met. As seen above, some exercises have more sets and reps than others, this is because some body parts require more stimulation than others to grow.

At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. The outline above can be followed down to the T, or feel free to play around with the reps and sets.


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