Most adults in America aren’t getting enough cardio and muscle-strengthening exercise. Even those that do try to work out every week, it’s hard to get results when time is limited. There is a better way, however.

Compound workouts are taking the fitness world by storm. It’s improving exercise routines and getting more people invested in their workouts. If you’re new to the concept of compound workouts, we have the primer on getting started.

Before we jump into the routines, let’s understand what they are and why they’re changing the game.

Compound Workouts

Compound exercises aren’t complex. The basic idea is to work on multiple muscle groups at the same time. We already do this to a lesser degree when we’re running, lifting, squatting, and etc.

The difference between regular movements and compound exercise is intentionally engaging unrelated groups. For example, lifting free weights while squatting. This not only saves you time, but it also ramps up the intensity and mental concentration required.

Compound exercises are more challenging–and more interesting from a competitive perspective. Isolation exercises still have their place, which is still great for beginners and rehab.

Why You Should Try It

If you’re a creature of habit, you might feel like compound exercises are too involved. While it is true that trying too many things at once can complicate things, this is about maximizing your time. If you’re comfortable with two exercises already, why not combine them?

You also improve your secondary muscle groups, improving balance and stamina. Compound workouts burn more calories, improve coordination, and elevate your BPM more efficiently. Also, you’re going to keep your core more engaged when combining two separate muscle groups.

For those who dislike traditional core exercises, compounding is your saving grace. Targeting your stabilizing muscles will reduce the risk of injury during an intense workout session. Picture holding a press-up bar while squatting and you have a great example of compound workouts.

It’s More Natural

Combining muscle groups during your workouts is a more realistic way to build muscle. In real life, when you’re picking up heavy objects, pushing or pulling things out of the way, you rely on multiple muscle groups. This is partly why Crossfit has grown so much in popularity.

It’s a lot easier to relate to working out using ropes, tires, and pieces of lumber than gym equipment. That isn’t to say that you can’t do compound exercises in a traditional gym. You will need to get more creative to mix things up, however.

Compounding exercises is about balancing the body’s network of muscles. Think about how it is often joked about skipping leg day in the gym community. Top-heavy bodybuilders are a perfect example of inefficient and impractical workouts.

Sure, it’s fine if you’re lifting to compete purely in one niche event, but for everyone else, it’s silly.

Prepare for Power

For all you beginners out there, don’t start attaching weights and resistance bands across your body yet. We want to emphasize the importance of achieving proper form before doing compound workouts. You need to reach a level of comfort with isolation moves before doing compound moves.

Once you’ve become comfortable with isolation moves, and move onto compound moves, you can still do them after compound workouts. This is because you never want to risk an imbalance of “freshness” or power between muscle groups. That imbalance can increase the odds of injuring yourself.

There are other red flags you should know before doing intense workouts, too.

Recommended Workouts

Start with basic combinations, such as burpees. The reason why burpees are so hard for beginners is that they are one of the first compound exercises people try. They are also cardio-heavy, which sucks for strength trainers.

Other great starters include dumbbell lunges and squats. For these moves, all you need to do is incorporate a bicep curl or tricep thrust into your leg exercises. As you perform these workouts, you’ll begin to notice how much more you’ll use your core to stay balanced.

Scheduling and Routine

We recommend doing compound workouts every other day. Never follow them up with intense strength training sessions. Try to alternate compound muscle groups every other day with cardio in between.

It may also be worth the investment to hire a personal trainer to show you the proper technique and moves for improving your weaknesses. Remember, always start with light weights when incorporating them into your routines. Even if you do isolation exercises at 20 lb dumbells, start with only 5 lbs.

Once you feel stable and get used to the feeling, then you move up to more weight and repetitions. You want to find a balance between muscle fatigue and that healthy burn. If you work out until you’re spent, you increase possible injury during compound exercises.

Remember to drink plenty of water between sets and nourish your body. Compound workings demand higher amounts of protein, carbs, and electrolytes. When you’re working out more than one muscle group at a time, you cause a spike in the resources the body needs at once.

This also means that it’s important to have healthy post-workout snacks ready. As soon as you finish a compound workout session, your muscles are screaming for nourishment to repair those fibers and rebuild muscle.

Prepare for the “New You”

Seeing the results of compound workouts is believing in them. You’ll love what you see in the mirror, you’ll feel more capable, and you’ll have more time to enjoy life. Compound exercises are the answer to everyone’s apprehensions and fears of working out.

Challenge yourself as you’ve never done before. Say goodbye to early plateauing and boring yourself to death at the gym. Find yourself a personal trainer and start planning your new workout routine.

Improve your chances of success by including a workout plan and getting a family member or friend involved. It’s much easier to hold someone else accountable than yourself.

Learn more about avoiding burnouts and frustrating gym problems here.