Here’s the number one excuse I hear from individuals regarding reasons for not exercising: time. You may think you don’t have a lot (or nearly enough) of it, but we all have the same 24 hours in a day. Professional athletes, successful business executives, stay-at-home parents and students all have a crazy number of tasks to complete in a day, and those who excel at what they do certainly know how to make good use of the time they’re given. This same theory applies to individuals who make time to exercise: those who want to incorporate it, who are motivated to complete it, do it. Those who aren’t, don’t. It’s relatively simple.
With fall in full swing and winter creeping closer, the days seem much shorter. It gets darker earlier and the sun seems reluctant to rise in the mornings. Believe me, I understand it’s hard to get up and exercise when it’s still dark out or to stop at the gym in the evenings when the sun is already setting. Enter compound exercises: time-saving moves that fire up multiple muscle groups at once. You’ll not only burn more calories with compound exercises, but you’ll get more done in less time.
Compound exercises can be different exercises performed in one fluid motion (like a squat combined with a bicep curl, or a bicep curl to a shoulder press—or even all three) or one exercise that activates a few muscle groups (lunges or deadlifts). A great full-body strength training workout would incorporate multiple compound exercises performed for 20-30 minutes.
Notice I refer to a workout such as this as “strength training.” This is because compound exercises are extremely effective when it comes to increasing strength and building muscle mass. Here’s why: if you combine two exercises in a fluid motion or are activating multiple muscle groups at one time, you are very likely to be able to lift heavier weights than if you performed a single exercise. For instance, if you perform a bicep curl and immediately lift the weights into a shoulder press, you are likely to be able to curl the same amount of weight as you press. Typically, you can press more weight than you can curl because the shoulders are a larger muscle group than the biceps. When you perform both exercises in a fluid motion, the explosive effect allows you to curl the same weight as you press. Ideally, you’ll use the heaviest weight you can handle while maintaining proper form.
These exercises are also ideal for core strengthening. Your body has to stabilize itself in order to push through the motions, activating those hard-to-reach abdominal muscles that keep your body in a state of solid, balanced strength. Below are a few compound exercises to incorporate in your next workout session. Perform as many as you can in 30-second bursts or reps of 10-15 exercises. Repeat your chosen sequence 4 times.
Triangle Push-Up: Place your hands together on the floor with the tips of your pointer fingers and thumbs touching (the space between them looks like a triangle). Extend into plank position and lower your chest to the floor, keeping your elbows at your sides. Push your body back into plank position. This is one rep. If this is too difficult, perform the exercise on your knees.
Works triceps, biceps, core and chest
Squat + Bicep Curl: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand (a weight you are comfortable with—remember, try to go heavy). Perform a squat, but make sure your knees don’t track over your feet. Squat as if you are sitting in a chair. If it helps, do this near a bench or box at the gym and only squat until your glutes touch the box. On your way up to standing, perform a bicep curl.
Works biceps, glutes, quads and hamstrings
Bicep Curl + Shoulder Press: Hold a dumbbell in each hand in standing position. Curl the weight to your bicep and immediately lift weight into a press above your head (the shoulder press). Lower the weight down to starting position using the reverse motions of a bicep curl to avoid injury (keep the weight close to your body and use slow movements to lower the dumbbells).
Works biceps, shoulders and forearms
Push-Up + Row: In plank position, place hands on dumbbells with wrists stacked in line with shoulders. Lower your chest into push-up position and return to plank. Once in plank, lift the dumbbell on one side until it touches your ribs on that side. Make sure your tricep extends directly above your torso and remains close (touching) your body throughout the whole motion. Pulling the weight outside of the range of your torso increases risk of injury and lowers exercise effectiveness. Perform on the other side, return to plank position and repeat the whole exercise.
Works chest, biceps, shoulders, back and supporting core muscles
Jumping Alternating Lunge: Start in standard lunge position with one foot forward. Make sure your knee does not track outside your ankle and does not go over your foot. Bend your leg so your quad is parallel to the floor. Your back leg will be extended in a straight line to your supporting toe. In one swift motion, jump into a lunge on the opposite side. Do not rush this motion and make sure you remain in proper form, but complete the jumps as quickly as you can.
Works glutes, hamstrings, calves, quads and supporting core muscles
Single-Legged Deadlift + Row: Start in standing position with a dumbbell in each hand. In one motion, begin extending one leg behind you while lowering your chest to the floor. Balancing on your standing leg, bend and activate your leg muscles until your torso and extended leg are nearly parallel to the floor. While in this position, lower your arms (with dumbbells) toward the floor. Lift the weight until the dumbbells nearly (or do) touch your rib cage on either side. Remember to keep your triceps extended straight above your torso and keep your arms close to your sides. Slowly return to standing and repeat the entire motion, alternating standing legs.
Works glutes, hamstrings, quads, arms, back, and core muscles
To avoid injury, be sure to ask me about form at your next visit! If you are interested in an entire exercise or nutrition plan, call (920) 499-3333 to schedule a consultation with me at Lifestyle Chiropractic.
Best of health,
Dr. Chad M. Hoffman