Body Weight Compound Exercises

Picture of young handsome athletic man doing pushups
Man doing push-ups (Image: marinovicphotography/iStock/Getty Images)

It's no secret that compound exercises are far superior to isolation exercises when it comes to gaining muscle and burning fat. Compound exercises involve multiple joints, which allows for more muscles to be worked and -- consequently -- more fat to be burned. If you don't have access to a gym, or simply don't have the time to go, worry no more: Compound exercises can be done in your living room. Learn the most effective compound body weight exercises to get a great workout without gym equipment.

Pull-ups: The Generational Exercise

Fitness trends change, but certain exercises stand the test of time. One exercise that never goes out of style is the pull-up. Pull-ups will never phase out for one reason: They produce tremendous results. Find a stable bar and grasp it with an overhand grip. Bring your feet off the floor and gather your balance so that your body doesn't swing. Pull your body upward using your lats, biceps and shoulders until your chin reaches bar level. Slowly lower yourself to the starting position. Perform as many repetitions as you can, rest 30 to 90 seconds and repeat for a total of two to four sets.

RFESS: Big Name for Big Results

The rear foot elevated split squat is one of the most effective lower body exercises. This exercise works the same muscles as a normal squat, but it's performed on one leg, which significantly increases the difficulty. Stand inches in front of a chair or couch that is about knee-height. Take a large step forward and place one foot on the chair. Maintain contact between the top of your foot and the surface of the chair. Keep your back straight and chest up as you lower into a singe leg squat. As soon as the thigh of your working leg reaches parallel to the floor, extend your hip and knee to return to the standing position. Perform six to 15 repetitions and rest for 30 to 90 seconds before beginning again. Aim for two to four sets.

Keep Calm and Do More Push-ups

Push-ups are among the best exercises for strengthening your upper body -- especially your chest, shoulders and triceps. Lie down on your stomach and set your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Push your body up -- using your arms and shoulders -- until your arms are fully extended and your lower body weight is held aloft by your feet. At the top of each push-up, the body should form a straight line from heels to head. Slowly lower yourself -- maintaining the straight alignment of your body -- until your chest is a few inches from the floor. Complete as many repetitions as possible, take 30 to 90 seconds of rest, and do up to three more sets.

Tips and Considerations

A workout may include pull-ups, squats and push-ups. Allow 48 hours of rest between workouts. Aim for three nonconsecutive sessions per week. While these are some of the best body weight compound exercises, others -- including planks and squat jumps -- will complement them.

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