In terms of reaching fitness goals, everyone usually wants to burn fat or gain muscle. What if we told you there is a way to achieve both at the same time? Weight lifting has been proven to be the best activity to burn fat and gain muscle in a single daily exercise period. More specifically, a compound lift is a form of exercise that will allow you to achieve these results.
Compound lifts are multi-joint, multi-muscle movements. For example, a barbell bench press involves moving both your elbow and shoulder joints, while requiring activation from the chest, shoulders and tricep musculatures. These types of lifts are fantastic for developing functional strength, which is necessary for practical, everyday life activities. Think of how you open most doors when exiting a building, you push it open! Compound movements also ramp up energy expenditure due to the increased amount of muscular contraction and co-contraction required to execute the movement.
Three basic compound movements that are a great way to introduce resistance training to your workout regiments are the bench press, deadlift and squat.
Barbell bench muscular break down:
Muscular activation during the eccentric (lowering of the barbell) phase comes from the latissimus dorsi (back) and bicep brachii (upper arm, anterior). The pectoralis major (chest), anterior deltoid (front shoulder) and tricep brachii (upper arm, posterior) are all acting eccentrically in preparation to move the barbell off your chest.
Muscular activation during the concentric (pushing of the barbell) phase comes from the pectoralis major (chest), anterior deltoid (front shoulder), and tricep brachii (upper arm, posterior), while the latissimus dorsi (back) and abdominal musculature act eccentrically to provide stability to the trunk.
Barbell deadlift muscular breakdown:
Muscular activation during the concentric (lifting barbell off the ground) phase comes from the lower back (erector spinae) musculature extending the truck, the gluteus maximus extending the hips and the quadriceps extending the knee.
Muscular activation during the eccentric (lowering of the barbell to the ground) phase comes from the hamstring muscle group eccentrically contracting to provide stabilization. The muscle groups providing movement on the concentric phase are eccentrically contracting here in preparation to fire concentrically.
Barbell back squat muscular breakdown:
Muscular activation during the eccentric (lowering of the body) phase comes from the activation of the hamstring muscle group and gluteus maximus eccentrically at the hip, while the quadriceps groups works eccentrically at the knee. Your calf muscles, ankle flexors and posterior tibialis work eccentrically at the ankle.
Muscular activation during the concentric (standing the body up) phase comes from the same muscle groups mentioned above, but all are acting concentrically to provide the force necessary to stand out of the squat. The abdominal and lower back (erector spinae) musculature are isometrically contracted to provide stabilization to the pelvis and hold the trunk in place.
As with any new resistance training routine, it is important to start with little to no extra weight (bodyweight is sufficient enough in most cases) to ensure proper technique is maintained as your body is learning new movement patterns. Progressing the external weight too quickly without proper movement mastery can increase one’s risk of injury. Therefore, start out slow and perfect your movements.
The exercises below will provide the basics of the afore-mentioned compound movements.
Compound Lift Workout:
1. Barbell Bench Press: 3-5 sets of 10-12 repetitions
2. Barbell Deadlift: 3-5 sets of 10-12 repetitions
3. Barbell Squat: 3-5 sets of 10-12 repetitions
Written By J’juan White and Angela Dendas-Pleasant.