6 “Must Do” Compound Exercises For Building Size and Strength

compound exercises for building size

For those of you who are unaware that strength is very important for building muscle and burning fat.

In this blog post, you’re going to get my top 6 “Must Do” compound exercises for building muscle and strength.

It’s probably the most underrated component that most people ignore and the reason they don’t get the results they really want.

Benefits of Compound Exercises

A Compound exercise means you are targeting multiple muscle groups at the same time. So, let’s say you do bicep curls; you’re only working your biceps alone.

The same applies to exercises, like skull crushers, where you only work your triceps. That’s why they are called isolation exercises.

So, if you are serious about building muscle and strength, then you have to do compound exercises.

Probably you already know how to perform most of these exercises, If not, then you definitely should, because if you do, you will get far better results from your workout.

Once you learn how to master each of these moves (and you will if you do them consistently), you will get the fastest results.

6 “Must Do” Compound Exercises

So many guys try to show off by lifting too heavy with poor form. That’s why I included instructions on how to execute each of these compound movements correctly to prevent injury



There are not too many weight training exercises that are good as deadlifts for building a wide variety of muscles in a single move.

The deadlift works your back, glutes, hamstrings, hips, quads, biceps, and forearms. Why would you want to miss out on that? If you are interested in reading more about the benefits of deadlifts check out – 20 Benefits of Deadlifts you probably never knew.

The Deadlift is an easy exercise to perform, but the only difficult part is having good form, especially when you are lifting heavy weights.

Injuries can occur at any moment, so make sure you know exactly what you doing.  I  have had my fair share of injuries over the years because of poor form.

Don’t make this mistake; wear a belt, and if you are a beginner practice just lifting the bar with no weight on it. Practice makes perfect.

There are a lot of videos on YouTube that will show you how to deadlift correctly, so practice makes perfect. You can also ask one of the personal trainers at your gym to show you how to do them.

How to perform deadlifts correctly

  • Position your feet beneath a loaded barbell.  Squat down and grasp the bar with an overhand grip.
  • Then, begin by lifting the bar by extending hips and knees to full extension.
  • As you reach the standing position, pull shoulders back.
  • Return to starting position and repeat.
  1. SQUAT


There is no doubt why squats have been voted the king of all muscle building exercises. Professional bodybuilders and strength athletes have been doing them for decades.

Squats are most effective when they are done with your thighs parallel to the floor (known as a deep squat).

Similar to deadlifts, squats work several muscle groups in one lift. That causes the release of testosterone in the body. Again, your form is important when performing this exercises.

If you have never before done squats, practice squatting with just a barbell, with no weight on it, eventually adding weight as you progress.

If you are serious about developing your hamstring’s, the thigh’s and glutes, squats are definitely the best exercise for that.  It will help you build muscle and strength in your lower body.

If you are a woman, and you want a bigger and firmer butt, then check out this article 10 benefits of squats for women.

How to perform squats correctly

  • Position an Olympic bar on a rack at chest height.
  • Then, position the bar on the back of your shoulders, grasping the bar on both sides.
  • Next, lift the bar from the rack and position your legs shoulder width apart.
  • Sit back while slowly pushing your hips back and allowing your knees to bend forward. Squat down until your legs are parallel to the ground.
  • Keep your head up, then slowly extend the bar to starting position and repeat.


bench press

The Barbell Bench press is one of the most popular upper body compound exercises amongst bodybuilders and powerlifters. The bench press will also target related muscle groups such as arms and shoulders.

I have been doing the bench press for over 10 years now and it’s always the first exercise I do to begin my chest workout.

People have been doing this exercise for decades, and there is more than one variation -: reverse grip, narrow grip floor press, and JM press, to name a few.

The more weight you are able to push in a single rep, the greater chance you have to develop upper body strength, muscle, and power.

Like I said, when you do these exercises in the beginning for your chest workout, you will make faster gains than you ever imagined.

If you are a beginner, I recommend a 4-day workout split routine, so you target each body part once a week.

It’s very important that you get plenty of rest and eat healthy sources of protein and carbohydrates as well.  Obey these tips, and you can’t go wrong!

How to perform Bench Press correctly

  • Lay down on a flat bench and grasp the bar, using a wide overhand grip.
  • Lift the barbell from the rack and hold it above your chest.
  • Next, slowly lower the bar until it almost touches your chest.
  • Then, pause a second and raise the bar back up to the starting position.
  • Complete the desired number of reps, then return the bar to the rack.


  • Focus on pushing the bar, using your chest muscles, squeezing your chest at the top of the movement.
  • Make sure you have full control of the barbell the entire time.

4.    Bent-over Barbell Rows

bent over barbell rows

The back is one of the biggest major muscle groups, besides chest and legs. There are muscles in your back that you probably didn’t know about.

The bent-over barbell row is one of the most popular compound exercises for building strength, as well as working your entire upper back muscles.

This exercise will add more thickness to your back because it will work all your major back muscles, including, Lats, posterior delts, and traps.  It will work your biceps as well. This is great because I love training my guns!

Also, this movement can be done in different variations such as changing your grip position and the ranges of motion that you pull the bar.

How to perform Bent-over Barbell Rows correctly

  • Grab a barbell (palms facing down) with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Bend your knees slightly and lean forward.
  • While keeping your back straight and arms fully extended, pull the weight right up to your waist.
  • With arms fully extended, lower the weight until your shoulders are stretched downward.
  • Make sure to keep your head raised.
  • Repeat for the desired number of reps.

5.    Pullups



Another one of my top muscle building and strength exercises is definitely the Pull Up. So, if you want that nice v-taper, then you will want to include the Pull Up in your program. They will help you increase your pulling strength.

This exercise takes a bit of time to get used to but once you learn how to master the Pull Up you will be able to advance to performing other body weight exercises, such as weighted dips and weighted pushups.

Check out this article Get Bigger and Stronger with Weighted Pull Ups, Dips and Push Ups.

How to perform Pull Ups correctly

  • Grab a Pull Up bar with an overhand grip (palms facing forward).
  • Cross one leg over the other and pull your body up so your chin rises above the bar.
  • Slowly lower your body to the starting position until your arms and shoulders are fully extended.


Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades back as you reach the top of the bar.

Easier Pull Up Variation

If you are finding it difficult to do Pull Ups, use an assisted pull up machine or try placing your feet  on a bench.

6.    Over-Head Press

Standing Military Shoulder Press - 4 Sets of 8-10 Reps

The final compound exercise is the standing overhead press (also know as The Military Press).  This is one of the most underrated movement for crafting perfect shoulders.

This exercise will also build your bench press strength. It’s quite common for guys to do this exercise with poor form. So if you are not careful you can ultimately do some damage to your shoulders.

With each repetition, you will be targeting your deltoid muscles as well as your triceps.

How to perform Over-Head Press correctly

  • Position your feet at shoulder width stance, with both knees inside the arms.
  • Next, lift the bar to shoulder height.
  • Next, press the bar over your head with arms fully extended.
  • Lower the bar in front of your neck and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Keep A Workout Log

If you want to improve on either of these exercises, I suggest keeping a workout log to track your best lifts. You can keep a record of the number of sets, reps, rest time and intensity of your workout.

A lot of people don’t do this and that’s why they hit a plateau in their training.  Trust me, it will make a positive impact on your progress and I highly recommend it.

I hope you liked reading this blog post, I’d really appreciate it if you shared it on social media for me. Thanks a lot and good luck!

If there are any other effective compound exercises that I have not included, let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.

Good luck!

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This program includes a wide variety of effective exercises for building muscle and burning unwanted fat.

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About the Author

I created this website to help people that are struggling to build muscle and lose weight. I love working out and motivating others to do the same, and to get in the best shape of their life. Read my story here. Also go ahead and Like us on Facebook.

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