Why Compound Lifts Should be Your Main Focus

Are compound lifts just part of the routine or are they your focus? Let’s discuss why they should be the focal point.

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When it comes to programming your routine, there is a lot of options.

You can focus on using machines, dumbbells, barbells, cables, kettlebells.

There is heavy lifts for strength, lifts for hypertrophy, and lifts for endurance.

Don’t forget circuits, intervals, and supersets.

Through it all though, you may only have 45 minutes to an hour to train. How do you squeeze all that in?

The key is to make the most of your time. As they say in the business world, get the biggest return on investment.

The key to that is focusing on your compound lifts.

The main compound lifts

In case you don’t know, compound lifts are you exercises involving multiple muscle groups.

Compared to say a bicep curl or side delt raise, these exercises only focus on a key muscle or a key muscle group.

With compound we are talking about multiple muscle groups. What are these you ask?

Some of the main ones to incorporate:

  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Back Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Military Press
  • Dips
  • Bent Over Row

Take the deadlift as an example. This exercise in general or based on variation can work the lower back, glutes, hamstrings, quads, adductors, calves, and traps.

That is a lot bang for your buck. Instead of spending time focused on one specific muscle, you are targeting mulitple.

Opportunity to stack the bar

Compound lifts also give the opportunity to really stack the bar.

This is where the majority of your results are created.

By lifting heavy and incorporating a lot of muscles you are going to see better results.

You will build more muscle. You are forcing your heart to work harder by forcing greater blood flow to key areas.

By making compound lifts the focus or priority of your workout you can save so much time in the gym. In fact, by doing 3 sets of a back squat you have already created a better effect than say doing 8 sets of isolation exercises that work one muscle.

By stimulating more muscle fibers you also enhance recovery and fix muscle imbalances. That is something that is very difficult to do with any isolation exercise.

Why they should come first

It really does not matter whether you want to build muscle, lose weight, or “get toned.”

Compound lifts are going to do more than any other exercise.

They should be first in your workout. Aside from doing a proper warm up.

If you start out on cardio or doing heavy isolation exercises, you are depleting energy from parts of the body that may be needed.

Studies show that it is not only about having already taxed muscles but our cardiovascular system can lack the sufficient energy if exhausted.

There is nothing like taxing your quads and then trying to do a heavy back squat which requires multiple muscles but focus on quads. Without the key muscles able to help, you could get injured or recruit muscle improperly leading to imbalance or bad form habits.

The point is to use compound lifts as a chance to get the most muscle adaptation from the start. Then you build on it with isolation exercises.

By doing this you will see better results and you will find that you don’t need to spend so much time training.


AEon Fitness is owned by CPT Ron Nattress. From the day Ron started walking he was involved in some sort of sport or activity. Tragically at a young age Ron became seriously ill with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. For many years he spent his childhood in a wheel chair and watching others enjoy the activities he loved. Determined to get his life back he did everything he could to get out of the wheelchair and back on the field. At around the age of 13 he finally had his condition under control enough to get out of the chair.  Around 15 years old he started lifting weights and doing activities that involved a lot of movement. He also focused a lot of effort on his diet. He quickly fell in love with the feeling it gave him. Finally able to move without pain he realized the change exercise and and nutrition can play in a person's health. From this point, it was decided that he wanted to help others get their health back under control. After getting certified with as a personal trainer he spent the next 15 years helping people achieve their fitness goals. Becoming an expert in special populations, Ron has found key ways to help people with arthritis, PCOS, diabetes, and many other serious health concerns. During these years, he also found a passion for cooking. Ron spent 10 years working as a chef in some of the finest restaurants in California. As a trainer by day and chef by night, he now has shifted his energy to writing cook books that provide healthy and delicious recipes.

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