The Athletic Benefits of Compound Exercises

Few athletes have time to train all the muscles they want in a session. That's where compound exercises come in.

Today's high school athletes have a lot on their plates. Between school, practice and [for some] jobs, finding the right workout to perform in what little free time they do have seems next to impossible.

Compound Exercises

Every athlete should want to train his or her entire body for improved athleticism, using at least two or three sets per muscle group. But few people have the time for that. That's why STACK recommends including compound exercises in your workouts. Because they engage several muscle groups in one set, these exercises not only save time, they more closely simulate game day scenarios.

Compound Exercises

What they are: Compound exercises are weight training movements that involve more than one joint and muscle group—as opposed to isolation exercises, like Bicep Curls, which engage only one joint and one muscle group.
Major benefit: Depending on your sport, you have to jump, cut and explode at any given moment, using several muscles and joints at the same time. Compound exercises prepare your body for these multi-joint athletic movements by mimicking them in a controlled environment with added weight.
How you'll save time: These exercises save time because you work at least two [and sometimes more] muscle groups in one set. Hence, they are an ideal solution for athletes struggling to find time for a solid workout that will truly improve their performance.

The world's top athletes move their muscles and joints in harmony with one another. If you aspire to play like them, you need to train like them, too. College recruiters don't offer scholarships to athletes with the biggest biceps and hardest abs.

Check out NFL and NBA superstars Reggie Bush, Andre Johnson and Kevin Durant performing compound exercises to improve their functional strength and take maximum advantage of their training time.

DB Push-Up-to-Row

Here Reggie Bush is primarily working his chest, back and core, which keep him stable throughout the exercise. Secondary muscles at play include the triceps, biceps and shoulders.

Sets/Reps: 4x16 [16 Push-Ups, 8 Rows each arm]
Coaching Points: Position legs at shoulder width and get in good push-up position // Drive elbow as high as possible and bring weight close to breastplate during row // Keep body in stable position throughout entire exercise // Engage core // Keep head still, in line with the spine

Single-Leg Dumbbell Curl-to-Press

In this compound exercise, Durant is working both his biceps and his shoulders.

Sets/Reps: 3-4x6-8, switching legs halfway through each set
Coaching Points: Don't swing dumbbells // Keep balancing leg slightly bent // Don't arch back too much during press // Squeeze bicep at top of the curl // Keep press in line with ears, not too far forward or backward

DB Reverse Lunge to Upright Row

NFL wide receiver Andre Johnson works his legs, shoulders, traps and biceps in this compound exercise.

Sets/Reps: 3x8-10 each leg
Coaching Points: Step back with leg as straight as possible // Lower into lunge until front knee is at 90-degree angle // Keep torso straight up and down // Raise elbows high and bring dumbbells to chin for Upright Row // Keep planted foot flat during Reverse Lunge // Squeeze shoulder blades together during Upright Row

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock