Body Building Resources

Compound Exercise - 7 Muscle Mass
Building Exercise
By Jean Lam

If you're looking for a hard, massive and muscular body, compound exercise is the answer. Compound exercise is a type of exercise which involves several muscle groups at a time. This is very beneficial for the body since you can usually workout 3-4 muscle groups. One of the greatest advantages of compound exercise is you can do a whole body workout just by doing a few exercises in a few minutes. In contrast to isolation exercise which usually focuses on only a single muscle group, compound exercise allows you to limit your isolation exercise sets for instance because you've already worked your muscle groups to a certain extent.

Due to the nature of compound exercise, it's a great muscle mass building exercise and it also builds greater strength gains. Ask any serious body builder in a gym and they will tell you that compound exercise is a sure-fire way to gain muscle mass fast. Heard about bench press, military press, deadlift, bent-over row, pull up, dip and squat? All these are compound exercises and they work several muscle groups simultaneously. We will start with each exercise.

(1) Bench Press

Bench press is the favorite exercise of most body builders which can either be performed with a barbell or two dumbells while you're lying on a bench. Usually what can be performed with a barbell can also be done with two dumbells. The bench press primary focus in on the chest muscles called the pectorals and the secondary muscles worked are the triceps and the shoulder muscles also known as the deltoids. You have to hold the barbell in a wide grip position or one dumbell in each hand and push it up and down until you can feel your pectorals stretched. You have to lift heavy such that you can do between 6-10 repetitions. If you can do 15+ repetitions, the weights are too light and if you can do only 4, they are too heavy. About 2-3 sets is a good start for beginners. If you incline the bench, you'll focus more on the upper pectorals for your chest.

(2) Military Press

Military press is a massive shoulder building exercise which can also be performed either with a barbell or two dumbells. This exercise targets the deltoids, the upper back called the trapezius and the rotator cuff. You can either do it standing or seated. While holding the barbell or dumbells shoulder level, raise them up and down. About 2-3 sets of 8-10 heavy repetitions.

(3) Deadlift

Deadlift works a large number of muscles including the lower back, the middle back, the trapezius, the hips, the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the glutes and the forearms. To perform the deadlift compound movement, you have to spread your legs at a shoulder width space, bend your knees slightly above 90 degrees while lowering your arms and grasp a barbell in a shoulder width position. It's important to keep your back straight at all times. Then you have to raise the barbell up not by focusing on the strength of your arms but rather on your back and whole body. Then lower the barbell down on the floor by bending your knees to return to the initial position, then repeat. About 2-3 sets of 6-10 heavy repetitions.

(4) Bent-Over Row

Bent-over row is a very powerful back development exercise and one of the most favorite back exercise for pro body builders. If you want to get a thick muscular back, do bent-over rows. Apart the back, it also works the biceps and forearms. To perform this exercise, you have to spread your legs at a shoulder width space, bend your knees slightly above 90 degrees, grasp a barbell in a shoulder width position and lift it towards your chest then lower it slowly. This movement focuses on your upper lats. On the other hand, if you lift it more towards your stomach, you'll focus on your lower lats. It's important to keep your back straight at all times. Note that the barbell is still off the ground until you're finished with the exercise. About 2-3 sets of 8-10 heavy repetitions.

(5) Pull Up

Pull up is one of the most easiest and an excellent way to train your back and develop a wide athletic V-Shape back. You only need a bar from which you can hang from. But it does not mean pull up is an easy exercise. It's actually very hard if you're new to it and chances are you won't be able to do a single repetition initially. Pull up is a body weight compound exercise and a powerful one to develop your lats, back, rear shoulders, biceps and forearms. You can do wide grip pull ups palms facing away from you which focus more on the upper lats and close grip pull ups palms still facing away to target more on the lower lats. Another close related exercise is chin up which uses a close grip palms facing towards you. Works the lower lats, back, biceps and forearms. You can also focus more on the biceps by squeezing them at the top when you raise your body. About 2-3 sets of 7-10 repetitions. If you can't do that range of repetitions, you might need to start slowly and progress gradually. On the other hand, if you can do more than 15 repetitions with time and practice, you can use a weight belt and add weights to make the exercises more difficult.

(6) Dip

Dip is such an excellent, flexible and powerful exercise to develop the pectorals, the triceps and the shoulders. You only need two parallel bars at a certain height and you have to grasp both sides with your arms such that your body is elevated when you do so. Then, you have to lower your body and bend your elbows no lower than 90 degrees as this will stress too much the shoulders, and next, raise your body to the initial position. If you incline your body more to the front, you'll focus more on your chest muscles and if you keep your body straight, you'll target more on the triceps. Same as with pull ups, you can use a weighted belt if you can do more than 15 repetitions. About 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

(7) Squat

Squat is the best leg mass builder of all leg exercises working the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the glutes and even the lower back. Usually performed with a barbell on your upper back and shoulders supported with your arms, lower your body by bending your knees no lower than 90 degrees, then raise it up to the initial position. Repeat. Do the movement slowly and don't jump up. Concentrate on your legs and you'll start feeling the burn of lactic acid after several repetitions. Also, it's important to keep your back straight at all times. About 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions. Squats can become extremely unbearable when you're training really hard. Leg training is one of the most difficult, tiring exercises and it drains energy from your whole body. You can sweat a lot while doing squats for instance. This is why pro body builders usually work their legs only on a specific day.

If you include these 7 compound muscle mass building exercises in your workout and you pay proper attention to nutrition and rest, you're already on your way to big muscle mass gains guaranteed. So go for it. Good luck.

About the author

Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body Building Resource which provides articles on weight training, nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.

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