2 May, 2019

A compound exercise requires several muscle groups and joints to be working at the same time to perform a movement. The benefits of compound exercises are exceptional, combining multiple fitness elements. The recruitment of multiple muscle groups helps to build strength and mass, while also burning more calories than isolation exercises. On top of this, compound exercises help to keep muscles balanced, improve coordination and strengthen the core.

The functional aspect of compound movements is what also makes them so effective, and why they form the foundation of all good strength and conditioning programs. Here are five fundamental compound exercises that will work the entire body and will help you achieve maximum benefits with your training:



Starting Position:

Start with feet shoulder width apart with toes slightly turned outwards. Barbell should be sitting on the upper traps, with the arms forming a strong W position. Keep the chest up, core braced and focal point ahead.


Technique Cues:

Downward Movement – Break at the hips and knees, lower until parallel or below whilst maintaining a neutral spine. Keep the chest up and core braced.

Upward Movement – Keep the heels flat and push through the floor. Extend the hips and knees whilst keeping the chest up.

Squat Movement



Starting Position:

Start with feet shoulder width apart, barbell over the mid-foot, quarter squat position, barbell vertically aligned over the shoulder blades and a neutral spine position.

Technique Cues:

Upward Movement – Push through the floor with the feet, extend the hips and knees at the same time, maintaining a vertical bar path. Keep the chest up and a neutral spine position. Lock out at the top of the movement.

Downward Movement – Slowly lower the barbell back to the floor along the same path as it was lifted, by pushing the hips back first and then bending the knees once it gets past them.

Deadlift Movement


Bench Press

Starting Position:

Position yourself with back flat against the bench and feet flat against the floor. Grasp the barbell slightly wider than shoulder width apart.

Technique Cues:

Downward Movement – Slowly lower the barbell to the mid-point of the chest, keeping the core braced and neutral spine position.

Upward Movement – Press the barbell up off the chest and backwards towards the eyes, keeping the back flat against the bench and elbows on a 45-degree angle.

Bench Press Movement


Barbell Row

Starting Position:

Start with feet shoulder width apart, slightly bend the knees and flex the trunk so that the shoulders are in front of the barbell. Keep the chest up, cored braced and maintain a neutral spine position.

Technique Cues:

Upward Movement – Pull the barbell up to the lower abdomen and hold for a second before lowering.

Downward Movement – Slowly lower the barbell towards the floor, keeping it as close to the body as possible. Maintain a neutral spine position.

Barbell Row Movement


Overhead Barbell Press

Starting Position:

Stand with feet shoulder width apart and with a normal posture. Position the bar across the clavicles, with the hands outside shoulder width apart and palms forward.

Technique Cues:

Upward Movement – Keeping the forearms under the bar, push the bar upwards, keeping it close to the face and have the elbows slightly forward. When the bar clears the head, start pushing slightly backwards until the arms are fully extended and the bar is balanced over the body

Downward Movement – Reverse the movement on the way down, keeping the bar close to the head, stopping at the level of the clavicles.

Shoulder Press Movement



To learn more about exercise technique and movement patterns, check out our Cert III & IV in Fitness and become educated in a field you are passionate about today!




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