We all know the basic exercises: bicep curls, lunges, sit ups, the whole bunch. They work but they can be boring over time, not to mention time consuming when you go through them at one time. Oftentimes, trainers will recommend what is called compound workouts in order to exercise more than one muscle group at a time and maximize your workout. If you only have a half hour to exercise, it’s best to try and make good use of every minute of your time. Compound total-body workouts do just that!
Aside from the effectiveness and time-saving benefits of these types of workouts, it’s also important to keep yourself motivated to workout with good music, maybe a workout buddy, and mixing up your exercises every so often. If you keep it the same every time, you’ll most likely be missing certain muscles in your workouts, and you may lose motivation due to the constant repetition. So, to spice up your normal routine, I’ve come up with a few new and exciting compound exercises to work out a variety of muscle groups for a total-body experience!
What You’ll Need
Two weights and/or one kettlebell. The weight of these varies based on your fitness level, but you’ll need two weights if you go that route (one for each hand). You can substitute with objects around your home, like water bottles or heavy books, for example. I like using a kettlebell in some of my workouts, but you can use a standard weight instead.
Resistance band. Optional, but this is a great way to maximize your workout.
Foam roller. This is a great tool to help massage and relax your muscles post-workout, but if you don’t want to go out and buy one, you can instead use a towel or paper plates on hardwood floors to let your heel slide. You can even use a fitness ball instead.
Start in a seated position with your heels resting on the floor and your hands behind your thighs. Slowly lean your trunk back until your arms are straight and your trunk is hovering above the floor. It’s normal and advised to have a C-shaped curve in your back:
Slowly release your arms from your thighs as you bring your legs to tabletop position, and your arms in a circle (pretend you are holding a beach ball in your arms) outstretching in front of you. Your trunk should remain stable/static:
Once you’ve settled into this position, extend your legs to a 45 degree angle and bring your arms overhead (continue to pretend you are holding a beach ball):
Maintain your legs in a 45 degree angle (or if that is too much, bring them back to tabletop) as you lift your arms above your head:
Lower your arms and legs back to the starting position. Repeat this 20x, and slowly lower your legs back to the starting position.
Repeat for 2-3 sets.
Upper Body Burner
Start in a quadruped position holding two weights on your hands. (Skip the weights if it’s too much on your wrists.) Slowly bring your body into a plank position while holding your weights on the mat. Be sure to squeeze and activate your core and your glutes; aim for a neutral spinal alignment:
Lift one arm at a time as you bend your elbow into a hammer curl. Try to keep your body as stable as possible while doing this––you should not be swaying your body from side to side. Squeeze your core and glutes!
Switch arms and perform a hammer curl on the opposite arm. Repeat for 5x on each arm (for a total of 10).
Take a break if you need it. But if not, keep holding your original plank position with your weights in hand. Shift your weight into your right arm as you slowly twist your body to bring your left arm up to the ceiling and your left leg rests on top of your right. Keep your hips up and don’t let them sink towards the floor:
Bring your arm back down and turn your body back to the starting plank position. Shift your weight to your left arm and repeat on the right side. Repeat 5-10x on each side.
Repeat for 2 sets.
Weighted Resistance Band Squats with Oblique Twist
If you have a circular resistance band, place it around your thighs. Stand with your legs apart, holding a weight in your hands (I recommend at least 10 lbs). You should feel some challenging but manageable resistance in your band, which should be your starting position. If you don’t have a resistance band, you can perform this exercise without it, but it’s advised to use one for the maximum benefit.
Next, perform a standing squat while holding the weight. Be sure NOT to let your knees go over your toes as you squat. Stick your glutes out and back when you squat to be sure your knees are in line with your ankles. Perform a low squat to challenge yourself:
Return to a standing position as you squeeze your core to bring your right knee to your left elbow. You are performing a standing oblique crunch so be sure to activate your core as much as possible.
Return to standing. Perform another resistance squat and as you return to standing, bring your left knee to your right elbow as your perform an oblique twist. Return to standing. Repeat 10 oblique twists on both sides (10 on left side, 10 on right side).
Repeat for 2-3 sets.
Beach Ball Hugger
Note: this exercise should be done at a quicker pace for added strengthening and cardio benefit!
Holding two weights, one in each hand. Start in a standing position with both feet together. Perform a standing squat as you bring your hands underneath your thighs, trying to touch both weights together. Keep your chest up as you squat:
As you return to standing, pretend you are holding a big beach ball in between both arms as you bring your arms out to the side and up to shoulder-height:
Keeping your arms in this position, bring your arms above your head. For an added challenge, perform a calf raise as you hold your arms above your head!
Return to perform another squat and repeat.
Repeat 20-25x, 2-3 sets.
Arm and Core Stability Pike to Knee Tuck
For this, you will need to use a foam roller under your feet, or either of the substitutes I mentioned earlier. With the foam roller under your feet, assume a plank position with your legs elevated on your foam roller:
Slowly lift your hips towards the ceiling while activating your core muscles. The foam roller should roll in towards your hands as you do this, but you should not be using your legs. You should be using your core muscles and putting your weight through your arms:
Slowly bring your legs back down into a plank position. From plank, keep your spine in neutral and your arms stable as you tuck your knees into your chest. Your knees/legs should be hovering over the ground, not touching it. Hold briefly and then return to your starting plank position. This counts as one repetition:
Repeat 10-15x, 2-3 sets.
Have any other compound workouts you like to do personally? Share them in the comments below!