The Best Four Compound Weightlifting Exercises to Build a Strong and Muscular Body


Compound Exercises - Purpose Driven Mastery“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

Fred DeVito 

Focus on Compound Weightlifting Exercises

To increase performance, strength, and size, these four exercises are on top of the list.

  1. Bench Press
  2. Squat
  3. Deadlift
  4. Military Press

All these are compound exercises, meaning they all work multiple joints and muscle groups when performed. For example, the bench press activates the muscle groups in the chest, triceps, and shoulders.  

Weightlifting: Bench Press - Purpose Driven MasteryWeightlifting: Bench Press - Purpose Driven MasteryWhat Makes These Exercises The Best

These exercises work multiple muscle groups in the body, hence increasing the efficiency in your workouts.  

To maximize your full body potential, you should aim to target the biggest muscle group in the body which is the gluteus maximus. This is also commonly known as glutes that contain three muscles in the back of each hip.

Weightlifting: Squats - Purpose Driven Mastery

Why You Should Lift Weights

Lifting weights is a form of exercise that helps with fat metabolism.  

But if new to strength training, you will be able to gain muscle rapidly and lose fat at the same time. However, once your body adapts to the initial change, it will take more time to gain muscle by lifting heavier weights.

Along with proper recovery and nutrition, weightlifting enables the body to build muscleBy lifting heavy weights that your body has not adapted to, it essentially breaks down the muscle tissue in that particular body part.  

Besides with burning more fat and building the physique that you want, lifting weights also:

  • Help keep the muscle that you already have.    
  • Increase your basal metabolic rate by having more muscles in the body.
  • Decrease the level of cortisol, the stress hormone in the body.

Weightlifting: Muscles - Purpose Driven MasteryThe Benefits of Testosterone

Studies have shown having higher testosterone levels can subdue fat cells creation while having lower testosterone levels can promote fat creation and obesity.  This is especially important if you have a higher level of fat because it’s generally associated with having lower testosterone level.

Because of the inverse relationship between testosterone and cortisol level, you should do exercises that maximize testosterone production.

You produce testosterone naturally because it’s the most important male sex hormone.[1]

270 to 1070 ng/dL[2] is the range of testosterone level in men according to the book Androgens and the Aging Male by Stephen J. Winters and Ilpo T. Huhtaniemithe.

How to Perform Compound Exercises

Here are the videos I have used in the past to learn how to properly do the squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press.  

Please consult with your physician to decide if you’re physically suited to do these exercises. Injuries can occur with these exercises, so do them at your own risk.  

Use the steps below as mere guidelines if you’re performing these exercises for the first time to prevent potential injuries.  

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  1. Warm up each exercise with just body weight or very light weights.
  2. Then do the exercise with just the barbell.
  3. Slowly increase the weights on the barbell with 10 pounds (5-pound plates on each side) increments to find your target weight.
  4. Find a target weight that you can do 4 to 6 repetitions (70 to 85 percent of your 1 maximum repetition) to maximize strength with optimal volume.
  5. Rest 3 to 4 minutes in between each set (I usually do 3 sets) for optimal reproducibility.

Depending on your goal, you may be content with your current lift weight.  

But if you are looking to get stronger, you will have to slowly increase your lift weight while staying within the 4 to 6 repetition range.

Closing Thoughts

The squats, deadlifts, bench press, and military press are the top four compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups in the body, including the biggest muscle gluteus maximus.  

To build strength for a particular part of the body, you may have to do isolation exercises such as bicep curls for your biceps.

The one hour of exercise is only a small part of the equation in building a strong muscular body.  

The other 23 hours of recovery time along with proper nutrients for the body to replenish and grow are way more important!

Whatever your goal is with strength training, remember that there are compromises along the way such as having too much muscle can limit flexibility in the body.

Be aware of your goal in strength training because having too much muscle mass can be disadvantageous. Ultimately you want to build a body uniquely catered to your goals.  

Because I run, cycle, rock climb, and swim, I don’t want too much muscle because that will hinder my recreational goals. Now I perform strength training with the sole purpose of maintenance.

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Footnote References:

[1]Guerriero, G (April 2009). “Vertebrate sex steroid receptors: evolution, ligands, and neurodistribution.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1163: 154–68.

[2]Oddens, B. J., and A. Vermeulen. “Androgens and the Aging Male.” November 15th, 1995. New York: CRC Press 1996.


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