13/01/2016 06:08 GMT | Updated 12/01/2017 05:12 GMT

Compound Exercises: Get Stronger and Leaner

If you want to really change and reshape your body, strength training is the way to go. By building muscle and losing fat you can build and sculpt a healthy, lean and strong body - but with so many exercises and programmes out there, it can be confusing to know what exercises will give you the most bang for your buck.

Introducing your new best friend - compound exercises. These are moves which work multiple muscle groups and joints using free weights. If you think of your workout as a cake (bear with me...), these exercises are the sponge cake. They're the big guns, the supporting structure, the heavy duty moves that will maximise effort and build the foundations of your strong, lean body. These exercises work one major muscle group supported by smaller, supporting muscles and joints, which means you activate more muscular stimulation and nervous system action. Ultimately this results in increased muscle mass and strength, which not only makes you strong, but lets you sculpt a lean, toned body by increasing the amount of fat-burning muscle in your body.

The use of free weights (rather than machines) also forces your body to use its stabilising muscles, which builds a super strong (and toned!) core far more effectively than doing 100 crunches a day. Going back to the cake analogy, think of exercises such as crunches, bicep curls and calf raises the icing and decoration on your cake - important, but not the main event. They should be used to target specific weak spots to support your compound lifts, but should not be the basis for your entire workout.


​Examples of compound exercises are the squat, deadlift, bench press, pull up and shoulder press. As the exercises that work multiple major muscle groups, you get a much bigger workload than you would with an isolation exercises, but this does mean they are the tough ones. These are the exercises that will challenge you, make you sweat and make you sore, which is why people are often keen to skip them. But if you really want to change your body shape and get stronger, this is by far the most efficient and effective way. Would you rather spend hours and hours in the gym every day doing tricep extensions and crunches, or spend a tough 45 minutes working your entire body?

Over the next few weeks, I will take you through my favourite four compound exercises which, if used as the core of your training programme, will help completely re-shape and strengthen your body like never before, so stay tuned to kick-start your 2016 with your most effective workouts yet!