April 12, 2024

The best way to add muscle is to do compound exercises. Compound exercises are the kind of exercise that work more than one muscle group and although compound exercises are harder to do they tend to have a bigger payback in muscle mass gained.

If you are looked to lose compound exercises are also good as they tend to concentrate on the massive muscle groups that will help to increase your metabolism.

best compound exercisesOne thing to really concentrate on when doing compound exercises is to make sure that you are controlling the on the up as well as down part of the rep so that you do not cheat and not use those weaker muscles at all.

Slow and controlled is the message when doing these exercises

A great example of the difference between an isolated exercise and a compound exercise is Flyes, which are very isolated to your pectoral muscles compared to bench presses which hit your pecs, deltoids, and triceps.

So know that you know the difference here is that list. Here are the best compound exercises.

5 Best Compound Exercises

Bench press

As already mentioned bench presses are great as they will work all of your chest, shoulders and triceps.

There are three kinds of bench press.

Inclined bench presses get the upper part of your chest and shoulders more,

Flat bench presses hit all of your chest and

Decline Bench presses (when you are using a decline bench) are best for the lower part of your chest and triceps although doing too many decline bench presses will really give you a saggy looking chest.
compound exercises using Tom Venutos tips

Military press

This is the classic exercise where you sit upright and push a barbell up from behind your neck straight up above your head.

Military presses push your anterior deltoid (front of shoulder) and again your triceps and are a great mass gainer for both.

I find that when I am doing this exercise it is really important to feel where and how you are pushing the bar up. You have to remember that there are some secondary muscles at work, mostly the triceps which are a very strong and leveraged muscle for this exercise.

When you are pushing concentrate on those shoulder muscles doing the pushing up. If you have to get the weight a bit lighter to do this then that is better as you get lots of opportunity to work your triceps in other exercises


Probably the greatest compound exercises ever are squats. Doing squats are great for all of your core muscles as well as the muscles in your legs. This is perhaps the toughest and best workout for gaining mass ever devised.

As you likely know the biggest muscles in your body are your quadriceps on the front of your legs. To do squats properly you need to take care that you lower back is not bowed in or out and to do this a belt or lower helps most.

Also when doing squats I have found that my calves do not extend far enough so I have always rested my heels on a block of wood. I have also written about a 30 day squat challenge that I did which is without weights and has you doing squats everyday. In doing the 30 day squat challenge you will definitely feel the lower back and abs getting a lot of work as well as your glutes. The legs do definitely burn


Using a machine row is a great way to work your whole back and is hard to emulate doing free weights. This exercise works all of your back muscles, upper and lower and also work your biceps.

After doing a few sets of rows your whole back will be sore. Doing rows it is again important to protect your lower back by making sure that you do not twist it in any direction.


build musclePullups are done by holding a barbell with both hands fairly close together and then pulling up towards your chin. Pullups work your biceps, rear deltoids and your traps.

Traps are the muscles on either side of the top of your back beside you neck.

This a great exercise I find for opening up and strengthening the very top of my body.

How Best to do Compound Exercises

OK now that you know the best compound exercises there is one thing that is important to note and that is the locking out of your joints.

Over years of lifting weights locking out at the tops of bench presses or squats or really any exercise can lead to joint problems.

On every rep try to get right to the end of the extension until you are about to lock your joint and then stop. Locking your joints is bad and is one thing to really remember especially when lifting the heavy weights that compound exercises allow you to lift.

I believe that if you do nothing but the best compound exercises in every workout making them the core then you will get bigger faster with lots of strength gains

20 thoughts on “The Best Compound Exercises

  1. Use the gym machines 1chest press 2 lat pull down 3 seated row 4 shoulder press thats a full upper body workout now with the lower body its pretty simple use the leg curl and the leg extension see how easy that is.

  2. cmon guys…best compound exercises are squat, deadlift,benchpress,military presses,and pull ups,..all these exersises you can combine with whatever you can think of.
    Stop critisizing eachother….

  3. Chris dude he was joking. I don’t se how pull-ups build your rear delts, I thought they only target your lats and biceps

  4. A clean and press into a squat is a great compound exercise! Add in a few exercises with a kettle bell, some yoga and pilates and your away : )

  5. i just want to insult jim for bringing up PNF in a talk about compound exercises! proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is just s type of developmental stretching!! what does that have to do with compound exercises and mass gaining . . . . not impressed by the big words at all.

    1. Yes, any exercise that is compound like that works great. And hey it is an olympic event so why not go hard with the clean and jerk

  6. Just wanted to agree with a couple people on the fact that Deadlif should be on the list as one or to. It is considered to be one of the best proofs of real all around strength and works more muscle groups at the same time then any exercise even squats. Just thought i would add :). Just so everyone knows though everything on the list is extremely important to building mass and strength so good training to all of you.

  7. Compound exercises are truly the best for mass gain. Just make sure that you break them up into different days for each body part that you will be working out. Also, try and force your muscles to adapt to heavier s for each set every week. Get at least three sets of four quality repetitions per exercise. Six would be best but at least four. Forget all that high reps, low s rubbish! If you want strength and muscle tone then this method can’t be beaten!

  8. There are numerous names for pronated grip chins, however in a real spit & sawdust gym you would be laughed out for that mouthful. there is a chin (supinated) and a heave (pronated). Lets keep things simple… anyone for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation?

  9. Tom go back and read what I said. I never disputed his original correction of the article – yes the “Pullups” section DOES describe Upright Rows. I only disputed what he said after that, which was “Pullups are pronated grip chins”. Honestly, where did you learn to read. I couldn’t have been more clear about the point I was making. Sometimes I despair of the level of stupidity around these days, especially from people so sure of themselves.

  10. The best compound exercises are squats then deadlifts then bench press. Also putting a block on your heels when you squat only adds pressure to your knees and back which will leave you more vulnerable to injury.

  11. Scott, pull-ups are pull-ups not “pronated grip chins”. The ONLY difference between the two is the grip so the logic behind that comment is kinda pointless. That’s like saying houses are bungalows but with an extra floor.

  12. And also Bent Over Barbell Rows are better than any machine, providing you are standing in the correct position and do not have a rounded back. Shouldn’t Deadlifts be on this list as well? Personally I think they’re the number 2 mass builder after squats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *