Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Benefits of Compound Exercises

Wait, what exactly is a compound exercise?

Compound exercises recruit multiple muscle groups while isolation exercises (like a bicep curl) concentrate on a single muscle group. There are benefits to both, but when it comes to doing more in less time, compound exercises have the upper hand, which is why they’re used in most strength training workouts.

There are two main types of compound exercises you should know:

1. Single moves that incorporate multiple muscle groups and joints, like lunges, deadlifts, and squats.

2. Two moves strung together to create one exercise, like a bicep curl to a shoulder press.

Whichever type you’re doing though, when performed correctly, compound exercises are effective as hell.

Compound exercises are excellent for increasing overall muscle mass and burning calories.

Since compound exercises involve more muscle groups and joints, they can be used to move heavier loads.  And when you’re performing moves that are strung together, like with that bicep curl to shoulder press, you’ll want to use the heaviest weight you can to complete both movements with good form to avoid injury. Since the shoulders are larger muscles than the biceps, most people will be able to press more then they curl.

Putting more stress on the body [with compound exercises] has been shown to create higher hormonal responses, which leads to more muscle growth.

Here’s how that works: When you strength train, you do mechanical damage (damage to the muscle fibers) and metabolic damage (when you fatigue the muscles by depleting their energy stores)  This damage (it's a good thing!) signals a hormonal response that kicks in during the recovery period after your workout. The body releases growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factors, which help replenish energy stores and repair structural damage to the fibers.  Eating protein and carbohydrates also repairs the damage and build up stored energy, which is why a post-workout snack is so important.) Because more muscle groups are recruited and broken down during compound exercises, your body releases more of these hormones, so you end up building more overall muscle than you would have spending the same amount of time on isolation moves.

Keep in mind that isolation moves aren’t a bad thing—if you’re trying to focus on developing one specific muscle, they can be great…. Think bodybuilders doing ultra-heavy bicep curls for arm gains. However, if your goal is to gain more muscle mass all over, compound exercises are much more efficient.

Building lean muscle also helps increase the number of calories you burn at rest (your basal metabolic rate, or BMR), because muscle requires more energy for your body to maintain. So because compound exercises help build up that extra muscle mass, they can give your BMR an even bigger boost.

And compound exercises are also really great at working your core.

In addition to the muscle-building, calorie-burning powers of compound exercises, they also require your core-stabilizing muscles to get involved to power through the movement. And a lot of the time, this means your abs are going to put in some serious work. Without stabilizer muscles, you wouldn't be able to do any movements.  For example, the muscles in the core stabilize your trunk so you can squat and deadlift. So while the squat is working your butt, hips, and thighs, your core is also getting in on the action.

And many compound movements will just make you better at tackling day-to-day life activities because they’re considered functional movements.  Doing real-life movements is useful because it teaches us how to properly move outside in the world—for example, not rounding our backs when we bend over to pick something up, or using our back muscles to help pull something versus just using our arms.

Here’s how to lunge and lift your way to results with compound exercises.

We suggests focusing 70 to 80 percent of your strength workouts on compound exercises, while isolation exercises can make up the other 20 to 30 percent.

Yep, you don’t need to ditch isolation moves entirely–they’re still great for building strength in the body part you’re working. And if we’re being transparent, a true isolation exercise doesn’t really exist because the muscles in your hands and shoulders often come into play during movements like a bicep curl. But since the concentration is heavily on that single muscle group they’re often looped into this overarching concept.

When you’re at the gym, we suggests starting with your compound moves because they’re more challenging and require more energy and focus. Doing them when you’re low on those two things can lead to injury.

Here are seven of our favorite compound exercises to incorporate into your strength routine:

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Achieve Life Work Balance

According to a recent study published by the American Sociological Review, 70% of American workers struggle with finding a work-life system that works for them. For many in the workforce, achieving any type of work-life balance, can seem like a myth, especially when technology has made us accessible around the clock. Time free from workplace obligations seems to becoming ever more elusive.

Despite these realities, there are those that have managed to have carved out satisfying and meaningful lives outside of their work. Here are some of the tools they practice:


Instead of just letting life happen, people who achieve work-life balance make deliberate choices about what they want from life and how they want to spend their time. They talk to their partners, spouses, and others who are important in their lives, and come up with a road map of what is important to them, how they want to spend their time, and commit to following their path.


Work-life balance going off the rails is usually a result of letting things slide as opposed to any kind of intentional choice. People who are good at staying on track make a conscious choice to continually talk to the important people in their lives about what is working or not, and make decisions to change direction if needed. While life happens and situations change, they avoid ending up in a place they didn’t want to be due to drifting along.


People who have managed to carve out a work-life balance that works for them don’t just wait to see what time is left over after work. They make a point of planning and booking time off to spend outside of work and powerfully guard this time. While emergencies happen and situations come up that need their attention at work on occasion, they strongly resist any intrusion on this time.


People who manage work-life balance have developed a strong sense of who they are, their values, and what is important to them. Using this as a guideline for everything they do helps them determine what success means to them. They know what makes them happy and strive to get more of that in their lives. While their time may be seen by others as being skewed towards either work or life, it is what they consider balanced that works for them.


People who maintain balance are able to turn off their electronic devices to enjoy quality uninterrupted time doing matters they enjoy. They realize that multitasking is a myth and focus on the task at hand. Having developed the ability to compartmentalize their time, they seek out moments to simply enjoy the experience and savor life. Often they have discovered meditation, music, physical activity, or some other interest that allows them to get away from the pressures of everyday life to relax, rejuvenate, and regenerate themselves.


Many people go through life and get caught up in situations and circumstances that end up controlling them. Those that achieve balance have a defined plan around time frames and are willing to make some sacrifices to get what they want in the end. For example, many entrepreneurs typically plan to spend a substantial amount of time in the early part of their businesses. Those that achieve balance down the road see this as a sacrifice that will allow them to spend extra time and energy in other areas they are passionate about once the business is established.


People who have achieved good balance have a strong support network they can depend upon to help them get through difficult times. They are givers who typically extend themselves to help out in their family circles and communities. They tend to have a variety of interests and are always open to new learning and possibilities. They are curious, open, and want to experience life to the fullest.