If you don’t have compound exercises in your routine, it’s time you jumped on the bandwagon. According Caley Crawford, NASM-CPT and director of training and experience for Row House, the beauty of compound exercises is that they allow you to achieve a productive and efficient workout where you do “more work in less time.” Thanks to Crawford, we’ve got some pretty stellar compound exercises that burn more fat so you get the most out of your fitness sessions.
“[Compound exercises train] your muscles work together, which will result in greater functionality in your daily life,” says Crawford. “You’ll be activating more muscles at once, which will not only build your strength, but also train your core more efficiently. When more muscle is working, it requires more oxygen, which means your heart has to work harder for you to see more cardiovascular benefits, sooner. More muscle activated also correlates to more muscle growing and building strength, leading to increased calories and fat burning.”
If you’re looking to speed up fat burning, Crawford offers five compound – and/or “large muscle group” – exercises that totally trump traditional isolated exercises like tricep extensions and bicep curls. Keep reading to learn all about them, and then don’t miss 7 Most Recommended Compound Exercises to Melt Belly Fat.
This exercise is a full-body movement consisting of an overhead press with a squat. Crawford prefers dumbbell thrusters over dumbbell thrusters because dumbbells establish more instability which really activates your shoulder stabilizers. Get ready to work your core, lower body, and upper body all at the same time.
To set up, Crawford asks you to position your feet shoulder-width apart and have a dumbbell in each hand. The weights should be held in a “forward grip,” which means the heads of the dumbbells should rest lightly on your shoulders. Next, lower yourself into a squat by hinging your hips back, bending both knees, and lowering your hips until your thighs reach a position parallel to the floor.
Crawford goes on to explain, “When you rise from the squat, use the momentum of your legs to push the weight over your head. Fully straighten your arms above your head and hold the weight in a steady position for a second. your shoulders (front rack position), then immediately begin another squat, repeating the process.”
Creator of men or “Creator of humans”
The man maker, or what Crawford likes to call the “human maker,” is another total body move that primarily targets your shoulders, chest, core, and triceps. It can also activate your quads, glutes, and hamstrings.
To set yourself up, start in a high plank position. Your hands should be on a set of dumbbells placed shoulder-width apart.
First, complete a renegade row by lifting one of the weights up to your rib cage, making sure your hips and shoulders stay perpendicular to the floor. Switch between your left and right sides.
Then it’s time to do push-ups. Perform a push-up while holding the weights. For extra points, try performing a “deficit push-up” by lowering your chest to the floor.
Then you will do a cleanse with dumbbells. Bring your feet closer to your hands and bring the dumbbells explosively up to each shoulder, making sure they form a front rack position.
Now perform a front squat by lowering your hips until they reach a position parallel to the floor, making sure your body weight stays in both heels. The dumbbells should again be in a front rack position.
Finally, finish the exercise with an overhead press. Straighten your legs and bring the dumbbells above your head until your arms are completely straight. If the dumbbell weight is too heavy, feel free to use your leg strength to lift the weights.
Bring the dumbbells to your shoulders, then lower them to each side of your body. Put them on the floor, step back, and repeat this exercise for as many reps as you aim for.
“The man maker exercise can be quite challenging, so it’s important to start with lighter weights and focus on good form before moving on to heavier weights,” says Crawford. “It’s also important to warm up thoroughly before attempting the exercise and to modify or back down the exercise as needed based on your fitness level and experience.”
A classic push-up is an incredible full-body exercise that requires full activation of your core. This move also works your triceps, chest, and posterior chain.
“I strongly suggest starting with manual release push-ups to make sure you can maximize your range of motion. This will target more muscles and build strength faster,” says Crawford.
Start by assuming a high plank with your hands placed a little outside of shoulder width. Your feet should be together and your body should form a straight line from head to heels. Activate your glutes and core and keep your neck neutral. Next, lower your body to the ground by bending your elbows. Push back to the position you started in, fully straightening your arms.
“One trick is to make sure your chest hits the ground before your hips. Modify as needed by using your knees or a wall,” adds Crawford.
“The deadlift is the strongest lift we can do. It’s going to activate the glutes, hamstrings, and the whole posterior chain as well as your core,” Crawford tells us.
Start by positioning your feet shoulder-width apart and stand upright. Point your toes forward. Place the barbell, kettlebell or dumbbells on the floor in front of your body. Stand close enough to the weight so that your shins touch it. Swing your hips back and, using an overhand grip, grab the weight with your hands shoulder-width apart.
Crawford continues, “Lower your hips by bending your knees slightly and bring your chest up so that your back is straight and your chest is facing forward. Keep the bar close to your body as you stand up straight, keeping your chest lifted and your back flat. Exhale at the top of the lift, then lower the bar back to the floor with control, making sure to keep your back straight and hips back.
As for Crawford’s pro tips for this exercise, she says to make sure your back stays straight during the lift to avoid potential injury. Activate your lats, glutes, and core to support your lower back. Also, keep the barbell (or whatever weights you’re working with) close to your shins during the lifting motion to ensure you stay balanced. And finally, gain momentum through your heels to lift the weight.
Clean & Jerk
Last but not least in our roundup of compound exercises that burn more fat is the clean and jerk. Start by standing up straight and placing your feet shoulder-width apart. Your toes should point forward. Place the bar in front of your body. Use a wider overhand grip than if you were doing a deadlift. When it comes to this particular lift, Crawford says you’ll typically assume a “hook grip,” where “your thumb is under your fingertips as it wraps around the bar.”
Next, bend your knees and lower your hips, keeping your chest up and your back straight, in order to grip the bar. As you extend your knees and hips, bring the bar up to your thighs. Keep your shoulders above the weight. When the bar is at thigh height, shrug your shoulders and use your hips explosively to drive the bar up. Once the bar is at its highest possible point, quickly drop under it, positioning your elbows around and under the bar to “catch” it at your shoulders.
Crawford continues, “Once you’ve grabbed the bar, stand upright with it, keeping your core tight and your back straight. From this position, dip your knees slightly and push the barbell up, using the power of your legs to push the barbell overhead. When the bar reaches its highest point, quickly move your feet into a split position, with one foot forward and one foot back, to help stabilize yourself. Once you’re in the split position, fully extend your arms above your head to lock in the Next, stand up with the weight pressed above your head. Always insert the front foot first, then the back foot. Lower the weight towards your shoulders, then slowly lower it back to the floor.
Crawford calls this exercise a “true Olympic lift” that requires good form. A coach or trainer should watch you while you perform this move to make sure you are doing it correctly. Start with a light weight and go from there.
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