At the end of this article I am going to give you 18 compound movements to improve your home workout. They will help you increase strength using the dumbbells you have at home, but don’t skip ahead!
The At-Home Workout
Have you been forced to make the choice to workout at home and forgo that gym membership? You have a set of dumbbells that are collecting dust because you feel lost on how to use them. Do you feel like they are too light to be able to really get you any results? You are not alone – and that is precisely why you have landed here, on Life Stride Fitness’s article because you are obviously ready to change that. Like I said don’t skip ahead – there is a lot of information coming that I think that you will find VERY USEFUL!
Before we go further, if you are new here – I am Coach Meggs. I am specialized in helping the every day beginner with their health and fitness journey. If you should have any questions regarding getting started on your own journey, please reach out on the form below and I will be sure to help in any ways that I can!
What is Lacking?
Most of the time when people think of using dumbbells there is one or two exercises that come to mind. One being the bicep curl, and the other being lateral raises of some capacity. While these moves are not bad by any means, they are considered accessory movements or isolation exercises. Below I will break down the meaning of the different types of movements (isolation and compound) and will give you some examples of each before diving into the 18 compound movements to improve your home workout.
Isolation vs Compound Movements
Isolation Movements = Single Muscle Group
Some examples of isolation exercises would be:
- Any type of dumbbell flye
- Cross-over exercises
- Lateral or Front Raises
- Curls (various forms)
- Triceps Extension
- Triceps Kickback
- Calf Raises
- Leg Extensions
If you think I am against the bicep curl or the leg extension, they all have their time and place. In fact, I do recommend having them in each of your workouts as an accessory to your workout.
Here are some reasons why isolation movements improve your at home workout:
- Recover from injury
- Fix muscle imbalances
- Target Toning
Now before you attack me with the last one on that list… Target toning is different from spot reducing. Target toning is where you pick a particular muscle to tone or build muscle. For example, exhausting your biceps doing curls to failure at the end of your workout.
Compound Movements = Multiple Muscle Groups
Moving Forward, I want to talk to you about compound movements. I want to address why they are important, and how they can improve your at home workouts. Compound movements involve 4 main types of exercise: the push, the pull, flexion (at the knee) and extension (at the hip).
For pushing you will use your chest, triceps, and shoulders. Pulling uses back and biceps. Flexion of the knee involves the quadriceps (aka quads) and adductors. And the Extension of the hip uses the glutes (your peach), hamstrings (hammys) and lower back.
Here are some of the reasons that compound movements are important to improve your home workout:
- They are efficient. Training more than one muscle group at one time.
- Assist with mobility and stability. For more information read: Your Mobility Matters! Increase Balance and Stability Now!
- Increases strength, mobility and lean muscle mass of the areas you are working.
There are two forms of compound movements.
- Major Compound Movements – normally consisting of exercises using the barbell. (I am not covering the major compound movements in this article, but if you would like more information – You can find a great resource here.)
- Minor Compound Movements – using body-weight, dumbbells or resistance bands.
You are likely here because you are a beginner and might even be intimidated by big barbell movements. I specialize in the beginner, so I am going to give you a list of minor compound movements that you can do to improve your home workouts! All you need is your body, a set of dumbbells or some resistance bands!
One more thing before I get to the reason you are on this article, let me drop my contact information. If you want me to write an at home program for you, coach you along the way and take out the guesswork of what to lift when, fill-out the form below and I will be happy to respond as soon as possible!
18 Minor (But Effective) Compound Movements
Finally, you will find below minor compound movements can be used with light weights for more repetitions. Yes, even those blue neoprene weights that you bought on QVC as a set whit that famous “shall not be named” fitness guru made you buy as you were eating a half gallon of Mint Chocolate Chip will work. (No judgement here – if you know my story… I once ate an entire family size box of fruit snacks as I “healthy food” shopped the day before I started my very last diet.) You do not have to have a huge set of equipment for these moves to be highly effective.
Remember this list is designed to help the beginner and is not an extensive list of all compound movements.
- Goblet Squat
- Reverse Lunge
- Bulgarian Split Squat
- Wall Sit
- Romanian Dead Lift
- Kettlebell Swings (using a dumbbell)
- Bent Over Row
- Inverted Row
- Floor Press
- Overhead Press
- Low Plank
- Side Plank
- Ab Roll Out
- Loaded Carry
- Leg Raise
When writing your next work out stick to the 80/20 rule. 80% compound movements and 20% isolation movements. You will see dramatic increases in your strength and overall performance!
As I mentioned before, this is not an end all be all list. I know there are other compound exercises that I have not covered here. If you have a great compound exercise that would be perfect for beginners and think I should add it to my list, comment below!
If you need someone to write out a program and help take out questions of what to do when, fill out the contact information above and let’s connect!
(Disclaimer – if this is your first time attempting a workout or you are recovering from any injury – you will need to get the “blessing” of your doctor or medical professional before attempting any of these exercises)
XOXO Trainer Meggs