Compound Exercises for Weight Loss – The Best Workout Plan
A lot of exercisers believe that the best way to work out for fat loss is cardio. While cardio does burn calories and fat, it’s not the only type of exercise that you can do to achieve the body of your dreams.
Strength training and, in particular, compound exercises are also a proven fat loss training method. Combined with a healthy diet, you can use compound exercises to help you lose weight while you tone or even build muscle simultaneously.
But what are compound exercises, and what makes them so beneficial?
Compound exercises are movements that involve two or more joints and several muscles working at the same time. This makes them time-efficient and also means they use a lot of energy. That energy is measured in calories.
They’re also the best option for developing functional strength, which you can use out in the real world. Good examples of compound exercises include:
In contrast, isolation exercises use just one joint and often only a couple of muscles. This makes them less effective for fat loss, not useful for building strength, and much less time-efficient.
For example, to work your lower body, you could do squats or the following isolation exercises:
- Leg extensions and leg curls
- Hip extensions, hip abductions, and hip adductions
- Back extensions and planks
Imagine the time you’ll save by doing more compound and fewer isolation exercises!
This post will show you how to harness the power of compound exercises to create a time-efficient, full-body, fat-burning workout that will also tone and strengthen your major muscles. You can do this workout at home if you have a garage gym or in a commercial gym.
Your Compound Exercise Weight Loss Workout Plan
This workout involves three mini-circuits of three exercises – a leg, push, and pull movement. Each mini circuit includes a barbell, dumbbell, and bodyweight exercise. That means you won’t need to stop to adjust the weights or do anything else that will prevent you from moving quickly between exercises.
Set up the first three exercises and do each exercise once, taking no more than 30 seconds to move from one to the next. On completion of the third exercise, rest 1-2 minutes and then go again. Rest once more, and then do one final lap to make three.
Then, set up your next three exercises, and repeat the process. Finally, set up your last three exercises and do your final three laps.
So, that’s three laps of three mini circuits consisting of three exercises. Got it? Good! Short on time? Do two or even just one of the mini circuits.
Do this workout 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days, e.g., Monday, Thursday, Saturday, or Tuesday and Friday. Spend a few minutes warming up before your workout, and then make sure you stretch afterward.
Mini circuit #1
<30s between exercises, 1-2m between laps
Mini circuit #2
8-12 per leg
<30s between exercises, 1-2m between laps
Barbell bench press
Mini circuit #3
<30s between exercises, 1-2m between laps
Dumbbell shoulder press
Choose a weight that causes you to fail within the prescribed repetition range. This WILL take a little experimentation to determine, but you’ll figure it out once you’ve done this work out a couple of times.
mentioned here, do as many reps as you can, designated AMRAP (as many reps as possible) in the plan.
Get the most from this or any other workout by doing each exercise correctly. Improper form makes the exercises less beneficial and could lead to injury. If in doubt, check out some YouTube videos, or ask a personal trainer or gym instructor to show you what to do.
1. Barbell squats
The king of lower body exercises! You can do high bar or low bar squats as preferred. Using a squat or power rack, rest the barbell across your upper back and step out into a shoulder-width stance. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and squat down until your thighs are about parallel to the floor. Stand back up and repeat. Do not round your lower back, and make sure your core is braced for every rep.
Check out How to Do Squats Properly With Or Without Weights, 26 Secrets for the Perfect Squat, and Knees Hurt When Squatting? 5 Mistakes You’re Probably Making for more details on improving your squat technique.
The humble push-up is one of the most widely performed exercises in the world! Working your chest, shoulders, and triceps, the push-up is a simple exercise and an effective one. Bend down and place your hands on the floor, about shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet back so your body is straight. Brace your abs. Bend your arms and lower your chest down to an inch above the floor. Push yourself back up and repeat. Do as many reps as you can. Do not let your hips drop out of alignment.
3. Dumbbell rows
This exercise works your lats and biceps, as well as your lower back and core. Take a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly. Lean forward from your hips, so your upper body is inclined to about 45 degrees, arms hanging down and palms facing inward. Leading with your elbows, bend your arms and row the weights up and into your ribs. Extend your arms and repeat. Do not allow your lower back to round.
4. Dumbbell lunges
Lunges work one leg at a time, so they’re good for spotting and fixing right to left strength imbalances. They’re also useful for developing your balance, coordination, and hip mobility. With a dumbbell in each hand, take a large step forward, bend your legs, and lower your rear knee to within an inch of the floor. Keep your torso upright and your arms straight. Push off your front leg and drive yourself back up to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat.
5. Barbell bench press
Barbell bench presses work your chest, shoulders, and triceps. They’re one of the most popular free-weight exercises around. Lie on your bench with your eyes directly below the bar. Reach up and grab it with a slightly wider than shoulder-width overhand grip. Unrack the bar and pull your shoulders down and back. Plant your feet firmly on the floor. Bend your arms and lower the bar to touch your chest lightly. Push it back up and repeat. Stop 1-2 reps short of failure to avoid getting crushed by the bar.
This exercise works your back and biceps. It’s not easy, so don’t worry if you can only do a few reps at first. Just crank out as many as you can. With practice, your numbers will soon increase. Grab an overhead bar with a shoulder-width underhand, overhand, or neutral grip. Hang with your arms straight and your feet clear of the floor. Bend your arms and pull your chin up and over the bar. Lower yourself down under control and repeat.
7. Barbell deadlifts
We’ve saved our favorite compound exercise for the last circuit! The deadlift works so many muscles we can’t list them all here. Needless to say, this exercise provides a lot of bang for your buck. Stand with your toes under your barbell. Reach down and hold it with a shoulder-width overhand or mixed grip. Straighten your arms, lower your hips, and lift your chest. Do not round your lower back. Drive your feet into the floor and stand up. Make sure your hips do not rise faster than your shoulders. Lower the bar back to the floor, allow it to settle for a second, and then repeat – no bouncing!
See How to Deadlift for Beginners – A Step by Step Guide, 50 Essential Deadlift Tips and Tricks Every Beginner Should Know, and The Top 10 Deadlift With Proper Form Rules to Prevent Back Pain to perfect your deadlift technique.
8. Dumbbell shoulder press
Your final pressing exercise works your shoulders and triceps. You can do it seated or standing as preferred. Take a dumbbell in each hand and lift them to shoulder-height with your palms facing forward. Press the weights up and overhead. Lower them back to your shoulders and repeat. If you do this exercise standing, take care not to hyperextend your lumbar spine.
9. Incline rows
Your last exercise works your back and biceps. It’s easier than pull-ups, so you should be able to crank out a decent number of reps! Set the bar in your squat rack to waist-height. Sit on the floor beneath it. Reach up and grab the bar with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Lean back and extend your legs, so your weight is supported on your hands and feet only. Your body should be straight. Bend your arms and pull your chest up to touch the bar. Extend your arms and repeat. You can also do this exercise using a suspension trainer, such as a TRX hung from a power rack.
What, No Arms or Abs?!
This workout contains no isolation exercises for your biceps, triceps, or abs. This is not an oversight. All of these muscles are involved in this workout, albeit indirectly. You use your biceps in all pulling exercises and your triceps in all pushing exercises. Your abs or, more specifically, your core helps keep your spine stable during many of the exercises too.
You COULD work these muscles with additional exercises, but that’s probably not necessary. Most arm and core exercises are isolated, which means they don’t burn many calories and aren’t very useful for weight loss. That’s why we’ve left them out.
Compound Exercises for Weight Loss – Final Thoughts
Cardio is an effective way to burn fat, but it can also be tedious and time-consuming. Doing a lot of cardio can also cause muscle atrophy, which will lower your metabolic rate, leading to slower fat loss.
Strength training has none of these disadvantages and can help you reach your body composition goals more quickly and easily.
That doesn’t mean you should quit cardio forever. After all, it’s excellent for your health. But, for fat loss, it needn’t be your only workout. Use these compound exercises for weight loss workout plan to lose fat faster while sculpting your muscles and building functional strength all at the same time. Talk about time-efficiency!
Body transformation does not have to be complicated. It boils down to two essential habits that you must incorporate into your lifestyle. They are:
- fueling your body with real food vs. processed food, and
- start moving every day, whether it be simple walking, and even better, by adding resistance training like a push-pull combination of pushups and deadlifts.
You can even minimize the number of compound exercises you need for weight loss and body transformation further.
Weight loss alone is not going to cut it if you want to change your appearance dramatically. The only way to improve how you look is by adding tone and muscle, and this post relies on the best of the best full-body exercises to help you lean out fast.
But, if you want the most abridged version possible, pushups and deadlifts will do the trick. But that is only if you are nourishing your body with real food. You can rarely out-train a bad diet unless you’re an Olympic athlete working out 10 hours a day.
See the 100 Pushup Challenge: How to Do 36,500 Push Ups This Year and this 12 Week Deadlift Program for Beginners in Fitness or Powerlifting to start with the excellent push-pull sequence using pushups and deadlifts.
- Squats for Weight Loss and Body Transformation
- The Top 10 Squat Accessory Exercises for a Bigger, Better Squat
- Squats vs. Deadlifts; Which Is Better For You?
- 20 Greatest Benefits of Squats; The King of Free Weight Strength Training
- How to Do Squats Properly With Or Without Weights
- 7 Deadlift Fat Loss Results You Need to Know
- 27 Sensational Ways How Deadlifts Change Your Body
- 37 Remarkable Benefits of Deadlifts to Unleash Your Fitness Fast
- 7 Greatest Deadlift Muscles Worked That Can Change Your Life
- What Muscles Do Push-Ups Work?