10 Best Compound Exercises For Gaining Muscle & Strength!

In today’s world, compound exercises and movements are often overlooked because people in the gym are too busy with the machines for isolation movements. While isolation exercises are surely effective for building muscle, compound movements are more than needed for building a strong as well as muscular body. The biggest advantage compound exercises have over isolation movements is that you can target more than one muscle group with only one exercise. Moreover, compound movements can also help you improve your stability and muscular strength as you can lift heavy with this type of movements. So, if you want to focus on building both muscle and strength together then these 10 best compound exercises are more than enough to build every major muscle groups in your body.

Barbell Deadlift

Traditional deadlift with barbells is one of the best compound exercises that you can’t miss if you want to build a strong and muscular back. From upper back to lower back, from glutes to hamstrings and from traps to forearms, there are very few muscle groups that are not engaged while performing deadlift. However, the main muscle groups that get benefitted most by this amazing compound movement are: traps, lats, lower back muscles, glutes, rhomboids and rear deltoids.

Other muscles like forearms, side deltoids and biceps also works while performing this exercise but they merely work as a stabilizer so that you can lift the weight correctly especially if you are doing heavy deadlifts. While barbell deadlift is more than enough for strengthening your back muscles, there are several other deadlift variations that can help you target other muscles apart from the back. For instance, Romanian deadlift which is another variation of barbell deadlift is great for targeting the glutes and hamstrings to make them defined and muscular.

Also Read: 8 Best Deadlift Variations You Should Try!

Just like this, there are several other variations for deadlift available that you can choose for specific muscle groups but all of them are compound movements. Now you can realise how beneficial deadlift is! Add this outstanding exercise in your workout routine to see incredible changes in your back and back of your lower body.

Barbell Squat

Barbell squat is one of the most popular exercises along with bench press and deadlift because of how beneficial these 3 lifts are! Squat is easily one of the best compound exercises for your lower body. It is a staple exercise in a leg day. Performing squat with barbells put excellent pressure on your every lower body muscles from quads to glutes and from hamstrings to calves. That pressure from doing heavy barbell squat is sufficient to force these lower body muscles to grow bigger and stronger. Apart from them, core muscles also play a role as a stabilizer while doing this exercise.

If you didn’t include barbell squat yet, you should include it immediately if you want drastic changes in your muscle growth. To get best results, start your leg day with barbell squats because with full energy, you can lift heavy and your muscles will get more tension. Furthermore, heavy leg movements like barbell squat and leg press can boost your testosterone more than any other lifts and we all know how crucial testosterone is for muscle growth.

There are also several variations of squats too like barbell front squat for targeting specifically the quad muscles. Nevertheless, the traditional squat is still the best for overall lower body muscular growth. That’s why, squat should be a must in your leg day.

Barbell Bench Press

Barbell Bench Press is one of the staple exercises for targeting the chest aka pectoral muscles. Even though there are hundreds of chest press machines in the gyms, people still love to do bench press because they know how fun it is to lift heavy weight with the help of your chest muscles! Moreover, that heavy lift helps to gain massive pump into the muscle fibers and size to the muscles. As a compound exercise, along with targeting the chest muscles, bench press also target your anterior deltoids and triceps.

Starting your chest day with bench press is always a great idea to put the highest amount of tension on your pectoral muscles. With incline and decline variation of bench press, you can also isolate the upper portion and lower portion of the pectorals. But for overall chest and anterior deltoids development,  flat bench press is the best.

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While both chest and front shoulder can get the most out of this exercise, triceps only works as a stabilizer so that you can push the weight properly. So, if you desire for big, 3D, strong and muscular chest with defined anterior deltoids then you should not miss bench press at all.

Overhead Barbell Shoulder Press/Military Press

Overhead barbell shoulder press aka military press is an outstanding shoulder exercise that can help you get 3D, big and round set of deltoids and also helps to strengthen other muscles like triceps, upper chest and traps. The reason why it is one of the best compound exercises is because not only it can help you target your all the three heads (anterior, lateral and rear head) of the deltoid muscles equally but also it can help to build you insane shoulder strength just like deadlift does for your back.

In addition, just like most other compound lifts, you can also go heavy to create sufficient tension on the muscles. And, as we already have mentioned, muscles such as traps, triceps and upper chest also get decent pressure to gain strength. Thus, military press can be greatly beneficial to build strong, big as well as muscular shoulders especially deltoids.

Pull Ups

Very few bodyweight exercises are as great as pull ups. With the help of wide-grip pull ups, you can build great thickness in your lat to make your back wider and you can also build your bicep muscles. On the contrary, if you use close grip, your traps, rhomboids and other inner back muscles will get the actual tension. Furthermore, by using underhand grip, you can target the biceps more than the lats and other back muscles.

If you are already an elite or advanced lifter and have master all types of pull ups, you can go for weighted pull ups for more challenge and tension on your muscles. So, you can see why pull ups is one of the best compound exercises.

Also Read: Best Exercises for Biceps to Get Big Arms!

With its different variations, you can target all the back muscles as well as your biceps. Even the forearms also gain significant amount of strength thanks to this superb exercise. If you want to have strong and muscular back with wide lats and big guns then pull ups is a great option for your pull day.

Barbell Lunges

Barbell Lunges is another noteworthy lower body compound movement that can help you to build strong and muscular glutes, quads and hamstrings. The difference with barbell squat is that with squat, you can target your glutes and quads equally but with barbell lunges, your quads get the maximum target while hamstrings and glutes get the rest. Obviously, they will also get enough tension to grow bigger and stronger. But the main focus here is the quads.

It is no surprise that barbell lunges is one of the best compound exercises if you want to focus on your quads. Moreover, this amazing compound exercise can also improve your overall strength just like squat does and improve your stability. If done correctly, it can be unbelievably good for strength as well as muscle growth in quads and even in glutes and hams.


Speaking about bodyweight exercises, how can we forget dips? This is another awesome exercise that can help to build strength and muscularity in your triceps, lower chest, traps and anterior deltoids. There is not a long list of exercises that can rival the effectiveness of dips in triceps and in lower chest. The lower portion of your pec muscles is not easy to grow but with dips, you can not only get strong and muscular triceps but also defined lower chest.

Credit: MensHealth

Additionally, just like bench press, anterior deltoids are also benefitted from performing dips as the execution of both these two exercise is almost same that is: pushing the weight. If you are already habituated with bodyweight dips, you can perform weighted dips just like weighted pull ups. Dips will be a great addition in your push day when you hit chest and triceps because this compound movement is made for these two muscles just like pull ups is for back and biceps.

Bent Over Barbell Row

Bent over barbell row is one of the staple exercises for back because it is one of the few lifts that can target all the back muscles equally. That’s where its greatness lies which is why barbell row is a must for almost every elite and professional athletes and bodybuilders. Along with targeting all the back muscles such as traps, lats, rhomboids, lower lats, barbell row also targets the rear deltoid greatly.

Using the underhand grip, you can make barbell row an isolation movement for lats. Nevertheless, the traditional overhand grip is still better because it can provide you better grip so that you can easily lift heavy and maximize the pressure on all the back muscles including lats. So, it is undoubtedly one of the best compound exercises for thick, muscular and strong back. In your back day, you should not miss this mind-blowing exercise at all.

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Clean and Jerk

If you are focusing solely on weightlifting and strength training then clean and jerk is one of the best compound exercises for it. It can help you build explosive strength in your body and large muscle groups from quads to glutes and from back to shoulder and in the core muscles too. Moreover, it also strengthen your triceps.

The fantastic thing about this strength building compound exercise is that you can also build decent amount of muscle with its help so even if your focus is to build strength in your muscles and body, you can also grow your muscles with this exercise. Powerlifters who compete in Olympics and professional strongman competitors perform this compound lift to build their insane superhuman strength!

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Farmer’s Walk

Farmer’s walk is the last exercise in our list of 10 best compound exercises and it deserves the spot because of how simple execution of the exercise is yet how effective it is to build strength and muscle in your body with this exercise. All you need to do is to carry a pair of heavy dumbbells or kettle bells and walk for several meters.

It will strengthen your quads, glutes, lower back, shoulders, traps, biceps, forearms and abdomens because all these muscles are engaged when you walk the farmer’s walk. It is more of a strength building movement still a good enough exercise to build muscles too! If you want to build strength and stability in your body, you can consider farmer’s walk along with clean and jerk.

The Bottom Line

Therefore, these are the 10 best compound exercises that you can include in your workout routine to gain muscle mass in more than one muscle group and unmatched strength. Add all these movements in their specific workout days to get all the strength and muscularity you need! For example, include pull ups, deadlift and barbell row in back day while add squat and lunges in leg day. Hopefully, you have found this article about best compound exercises helpful enough. If it is really so then don’t hesitate to express your valuable thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks for visiting and appreciating our work.

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