Fitness & Equipment Guides > The Best Compound Exercises You Could Ever Do

The Best Compound Exercises You Could Ever Do

20th Mar 20

Compound exercises are an incredible thing to do for your training, and they have a whole world of different ways they can help your training if you know the best exercises and how to use them. The trouble is that a lot of the time, that’s just the issue. There are so many different choices out there that picking the best is just too hard to do. When you’re looking at compound exercises, that’s a luxury you can’t afford to have.

The confusion regarding the best compound or full-body exercises is that the end goal can differ for everyone. Some people may be looking for the best compound exercises to build muscle, others for functional strength and others for the most significant calorie burn. They’re all viable options, but they all differ, and that’s what we’re here to look at in more depth.

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Building Muscle

The first place we’ll start with is building muscle and the best compound exercises for doing it. Of course, this is one of the biggest reasons people look to compound exercises and the benefits they offer in the first place, so it makes sense. There’s a reason these exercises are so famous, after all, and they do incredible things for your muscle mass.

Bench Presses

Person doing bench press exercise

These are one of the best upper body building exercises and likely one of the heaviest lifts you’re capable of doing. They hit your shoulders, chest and triceps simultaneously, perfect for the kind of complimentary muscles we need here. Make sure you perfect your technique and push yourself, but it’s a fantastic place to start.


Person squatting barbell

Squats are often hailed as the best lower bodybuilder for the same reason as above. Again, that comes down to how many different muscles you’re using simultaneously, how much weight you can lift, and how natural the movement is. All of these come together for a real recipe for success, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for.


Person deadlifting barbell

Deadlifts aren’t just an amazing muscle-building compound exercise; they’re one of the best exercises you could do in general. They are a genuinely amazing feat of human strength, and for what they do to your body, they are an exercise that anybody should be doing no matter what they are exercising for. They need to be done correctly, of course, but as far as exercises go, few can meet this titan of training, hitting your whole posterior chain in every single rep and using the rest of your body for stabilisation.

Bent Rows

Person doing bent rows

Staying on the posterior side of the body, we’ll move slightly upwards and look at the best compound exercises to hit your upper back muscles in this exercise. The biceps are another beneficiary for his one, and, like the bench press, it’s likely to be one of the most significant lifts you can do.

Shoulder Presses

Person shoulder pressing barbell

The only muscle group that hasn’t quite had enough attention yet, even with all of these hardcore compound exercises, is the shoulders, and that’s why we’re finishing off with this one. The shoulder press is an amazingly effective way to hit all three muscles involved in the deltoid in one exercise as well as giving your arms another blast too. So make sure you’re using it to its full potential!

Build Functional Strength

Building muscle is all well and good, and the strength gains you’ll get from those exercises are all well and good, but for many people trying to utilise these exercises, that’s not quite enough. For many, functional strength is the aim of the game, and that’s a lot different from just building as much muscle as possible. This is being able to use that muscle in everyday life and do things your body was designed for.

Pull Ups

Person doing pull ups

Although it may not be something that you use directly daily, pull-ups are still a perfect example of the type of exercise we’re talking about here. It’s still a hardcore compound exercise using just about every muscle in your upper body, but because of the difficulty, even with the lack of weight, it still means almost all of your back and arm muscles benefit. That’s so easy to transfer into real life!

Muscle Ups

Person doing muscle ups

Muscle-ups are massively in the same kind of league, but because of the difference in the exercise, they have a much larger impact on the arms and chest and have all of the benefits of pull-ups. That’s perfect for a full upper body workout in one exercise and again uses the strength from your natural body weight that is easily transferred.

Chest Dips

Person doing chest dip exercise

Tricep dips are an amazingly useful way to hit your arms but add some forward tilt when you’re in the air, and you’re onto a winner. This is a chest dip, and it’s a huge chest and upper body builder that only takes your body weight. That’s incredibly hard to do as far as compound and chest exercises go, and it has to be one of the best for what we’re looking at here.

Sled Pulls/Pushes

People doing sled pushes

We need to give the legs a special mention here too, and there are more ways to train for functional strength than just squats and deadlifts. For example, another of the best compound exercises out there that you can do is actually when using a sled. Sled pulls and pushes give you real, transferable strength in your legs that helps you in ways you wouldn’t even imagine.

Tone Up & Burn Calories

Lastly, the best compound exercises for toning up. Weight training is still a great way to burn calories if you do it right, and the best way to do that is by using the most muscles per exercise that you possibly can. More muscles mean more calories burned because you’re doing more. Building muscle on top of that is just asking for more muscle definition!


Person during clean exercise

To get the best of compound exercises for toning up and burning calories, we need to look at exercises like the clean to hit as many muscles as possible. It’s like a cross between multiple exercises, like a deadlift and a squat in this case, and that just means more muscles in less time. What more can we ask for?


Person doing jerk exercise

The jerk exercise is essentially a shoulder press with more leg activation. It’s a huge lift that’s often regarded as a weight training titan, as seen in the Olympic weight lifting category, and it’s definitely earned its place as one of the best compound exercises you could have.

TRX Rows

Person doing trx rows

Another big back hitter that still uses a considerable amount of natural mechanics that are seen in daily life is with TRX rows. These are great examples of using your body weight in an already classic exercise to build your pulling strength, perfect for all kinds of activities in and out of your exercise.

Lunges with Pass

Person doing lunges with kettlebell

Finally, we have lunges. They may seem like a total wildcard in the list since they are much smaller than many other lifts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t fit the bill. They are still a great lower body exercise that does what we need. Add a pass to the mix with equipment like a kettlebell or dumbbell, and you add a load of core work into the mix too. It only gets better the more you do.

Compound exercises are incredible, no matter what you’re training for. You should always be doing more of them wherever you can. They help your performance in every fitness goal you could want, so learn which suit you the best, master your technique, and see what they can do for your workouts. Good luck.

Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.