Master these key compound movements to add muscle size and strength fast.

Let’s not beat around the bush: every single one of your workouts should be based around compound lifts.

A compound lift is an exercise where there is movement at two or more joints. A good example would be the squat (movement at the hip and knee joints) or the shoulder press (movement at the shoulder and elbow joint).


So why should compound lifts form the foundation of any training plan? Quite simply, because they involve movement at more than one joint the require multiple muscle groups to act at the same time. Compound lifts are more bang-for-the-buck moves because the more muscles involved, the heavier the weight you can lift, and the bigger the weight you lift, the bigger the growth hormone response.

This hormone response is crucial. It means that not only will you put on more muscle in the areas you’ve recently trained, but you’ll also see benefits all over your body. That’s because the hormones responsible for muscle growth also burn fat, so you’ll get bigger and leaner across the board.


That’s why bicep curls aren’t actually the best exercise for building big biceps. It’s far more effective to perform compound exercises, such as bent-over rows or chin-ups, to really fatigue your biceps by exposing them to the maximum amount of weight they can manage.

That’s not to say isolation moves don’t have a part to play, they do. For instance, they can be deployed towards the end of your workout to specifically isolate a muscle to cause additional fatigue. But the basis of each workout should be the major compound lifts.


Your feet should be shoulder- width apart with your toes pointing slightly outwards. Slowly lower yourself down— keeping your chest and chin up while maintaining a natural arch in your back. Keep the weight on your feels, your body upright and don’t let your knees roll inwards or forwards. Bring your body down until your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. The deeper you can squat, the better.


Your head, upper back and glutes should be flat against the bench. Brace your core and maintain a natural arch in your back. Slowly lower the weight to your chest, taking your elbows out to 90 degrees, until the weight is almost toughing the middle of your chest or just over your nipples.


Squat down and grip the bar just outside your knees with your core braced, your shoulders retracted and over the bar and your back flat. Use your legs to power the initial lift, pushing down through your heels. Keep the bar close to your body and, as it passes your knees, push your hips forward. Keep your shoulders back throughout the move.


Grasp the bar using an overhand grip with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. The wider they are, the harder the move becomes. Start from a dead hang with your arms fully extended. Pull yourself up by squeezing your lats together. Once your chin is higher than your hands, slowly lower yourself back to the start position.


Standing upright and feet hip- width apart, take a big step forward and keep your knee over your front foot but not beyond it. Lower down until both knees are bent at 90 degrees before pushing back off your front foot to return to the start position. Keep your back upright and core braced throughout the move.


Position the weight on your upper chest with your hands just wider than shoulder-width apart. Keep your chest upright and your core muscles braced. Press the weight directly upwards until your arms are fully extended overhead. Lower the weight back down to your chest and repeat.


Stand with your core braced, your back straight and your shoulders retracted. Bend your knees slightly and lean forward from the hips, not the waist. Pull the weight up to your lower sternum, fully retracting your shoulder blades to allow the weight to come up to your chest, then slowly lower the weight to the start.