Back to the Basics: Compound Lifts are only the Beginning


What a better way to start off my first official, informative, post by starting at step one? While working out, there needs to be some consistency as to what you do. One way that I have found to work for myself, is by incorporating compound lifts into my workouts.

Compound lifts explained simply, are workouts that work multiple aspects of a muscle, or group of muscles. There is a wide variety of compound lifts that can used in a workout. For the purpose of keeping this simple, I will be touching on the four that I believe are the most important to incorporate into any workout. The four in specific that we will be talking about are the deadlift, bench press, squat and military press.

It is important to remember, that as you continue working out, or first start working out, always, always, always, focus on form before you start putting on more weight than you can handle. With good form, comes good outcomes. If you are doing a workout with bad form, it can increase your risk of injury and set you back further and sometimes even set you back further than before you started.

Proper before, and after form for squatting
Proper before, and after form for squatting

First, let us touch on the most common workout everyone has heard of, the squat. The squat is a exercise that targets your legs, arguably the strongest muscle of the human body. While squatting it works out a couple of important muscles in your legs including, your hamstrings, quadriceps, and butt.


Squatting is a exercise that doesn’t always need to be the first thing done when walking into the gym, or necessarily the last thing you do. I have found it helpful to change where I put squats in my workout. Sometimes, I put it in the beginning to get my heart rate up, in the middle to keep my routine balanced, or at the end for a good burnout and getting that feeling of accomplishment after the last rep.

img_3097img_3098The bench press, has many different variations that can used to spice up your workout, but for the sake of time, we will be talking about the standard barbell bench press. Benching works the pectoral muscles (the muscles that make up the chest area) and a small portion of the triceps, which is why chest and triceps are usually grouped together in a workout.


Within my workouts, I put the flat barbell bench press first in my workout, mainly to see my progress. Tracking how much weight you do each week on a specific workout is a good way to track your progress. When benching, I find it tough to increase the weight I do in a short amount of time, so to get the best results, I bench first and put maximum effort into each rep and focus on my breathing to keep it consistent. Breathing is key in any workout, it may not seem big, but correct breathing helps with lifting.

Proper deadlifting form

The next exercise I’m going to talk about is what I consider to be the most dangerous compound lift, the deadlift. This workout uses the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, quadriceps, hamstrings and adductors. The reason that deadlifting is so dangerous is because it works muscles that can easily be damaged, if the workout is done with the wrong form. Wrong form can cause serious damage and potential cause pulled muscles, and for me, risk of refracting my lower back (a injury I
sustained a few years ago).

I tend to put deadlifting at the beginning of my back and biceps day. It’s a good way to lift heavy and get you pumped for the workout, and also doesn’t put too much strain on your back for the rest of the workout. The most important thing to remember while deadlifting is to keep your back straight and make sure when you reach the top of the lift, your knees don’t lock before you lock your back. Everything should be done simultaneously and be in one swift motion.


Proper military press form, before and after

The final workout, which is a hard focus on shoulder muscles, is the standing or seated military press. There is no difference in motion for seated or standing military press, the only difference is in the name (standing or seated). Standing military press can occasionally be a little easier because it allows you to get a little bit of momentum behind it and almost make it a “push press“, which is a small variation to the military press.

The military press works all three of the deltoid muscles, with emphasis on the front deltoids. Military press is important because it helps build a stronger, wider upper body. After a month of two of doing this press correctly you should see a difference in posture and width of your shoulders. It creates a more stable base and also creates a strong looking upper body.

I place the military press at the beginning of my workout, because the other exercises I do focus on multiple areas of both my front and rear deltoids. I get the best results on any my lifts, when I place them at the beginning of my workouts. After performing this press, you should feel a little fatigued, but that can’t stop you, keep going and dig deep for the energy to complete your workout.

As I stated, these four workouts are only the beginning. Group them with other exercises to create  a dynamic workout and reach for the results you have always wanted. There are many references to go to that allow you to find a plan, and choose what type of workout you want to do if you don’t know how to design you own.

From the wise words of Arnold Schwarzenegger:

“For me life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer.”

Find your hunger, and find your drive, its about building and overcoming. Never give up and always keep working to become a better you both inside and outside!





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