Compound Movements: Ultimate Fat Burning Exercises

ultimate fat burning exercises

Get the biggest bang for your workout training buck with the ultimate fat burning exercises. 

If you’re hunting down fat burn, then compound workouts are a must for your workout arsenal. In fact, compound movements (CMs) should make up most of your training – with the occasional isolation exercise thrown into the mix. Not only will CM training give you big fat loss results – it gives you plenty of other athletic perks for overall fitness success.

The Difference Between Compound and Isolation Exercises

Compound exercises use the muscles around two or more joint groups to move a weight. That means multiple joints and lots of muscles are involved in just one exercise.

Think about a squat, one of the best compound movements. When you squat down, you are involving your hip, knee and ankle joints and all the muscles that surround those joints.

Or take an overhead press. You’re activating the joints in your elbows and shoulders and even activating muscles in your abs, glutes, and lower back.

Multiple joints and multiple muscles = compound movements. 

The opposite of those compound movements are isolation exercises using only one joint and limited muscle involvement.

A seated bicep curl requires only the elbow joint. A knee extension uses only the knee joint.

These isolation exercises still require multiple muscles – in a bicep curl you’ve got your bicep and your forearms working, but the overall exercise is limited to just one joint.

utlimate fat burning exercises goblet squats

So why are compound movements superior? Let me list the ways.

Reason 1: Burning Fat

The more muscles you train at once, the higher the energy demand on your body. Since CMs require more muscles to be engaged, each of those muscles increases the energy output significantly.   One CM can increase your calorie burn 20x higher than an isolation exercise.   So not only do CMs burn more calories while you are training, but they significantly increase your post workout EPOC – the amount of calories and fat you continue to burn once the workout is over.  

Reason 2: Faster Strength Gains

You can lift more weight with CMs because you’ve got multiple muscles working together.   Five muscles can lift more than just one or two right? And since you are consistently lifting heavier weight, your muscle fibers grow faster to give you faster strength gains.

 Reason 3: Time and Energy Efficient

If you had to train each muscle independently, it would take you hours to get through a full body workout. But by combining muscles into one movement, you increase how many muscles are targeted and activated in just a short amount of time. Instead of hours, you could hit nearly all your muscles with just 3 or 4 CMs. A much shorter and more efficient workout. 

Reason 4: Increases Cardiovascular Demand

In order for a muscle to work, it requires oxygen. And the longer that muscle works, the more and more oxygen that must be supplied to it to keep it energized and powerful.

In CMs, you recruit multiple muscles to complete one exercises. That means your current oxygen supply depletes much faster and your heart rate has to increase to bring in more and more oxygen to keep all of those muscles fueled.   Because of the higher oxygen demand, your heart and cardio systems are elevated in the same way they might during a high intensity sprint workout.

The bigger the muscle group, the more oxygen it needs. So to really train your cardio system, add some powerhouse CMs, like squats and deadlifts to your regular training.

Reason 5: Improves Flexibility

Working flexibility isn’t always limited to static holds (in fact, static holds are shown to decrease the power and force behind those muscles and decrease your neural efficiency).  

But CMs with a slow eccentric movement, the down portion of the deadlift or squat, can help increase your flexibility in a positive way. Picture the deadlift, as you slowly lower the bar back to the ground, you have a controlled and complex lengthening of the muscle fibers in the backs of your legs.   That 4 second eccentric movement doesn’t seem like much, but overtime it can contribute significantly to the total length of your muscle fibers, increasing your long term flexibility without a second of static hold stretching or decreasing your power output.

Reason 6: Strengthens Bones

One overlooked benefit of strength training is the impact it has on your bones. Lifting weights helps increase bone mineral density and helps prevent future fractures, breaks or osteoporosis. You may not care about this now, but your future, aging self sure will.  

Reason 7: Better Functional Adaptability

We don’t go through life using just one joint or muscle at a time. Our bodies are designed to move in millions of different ways and patterns – running, jumping, dancing, twisting, playing – all require a coordinated movement between multiple muscles and joints.

By routinely practicing CMs, you increase the neural connectedness between multi-joint movements that translate to more efficient and natural movement throughout the course of your day. Whether you’re a pro athlete coordinating jumping and throwing with cutting and turning or a stay at home parent carrying groceries and running around with kids – CMs help train your body to function cohesively.

woman doing compound movements


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