Compound Exercises You Can Do At Home

Push upCompound exercises are exercises that involve multiple joints and therefore more than one muscle group.  These exercises burn more calories than isolation exercises (working 1 joint and 1 primary muscle), help with flexibility, stability, coordination and overall strength.

Here are some of the most common compound exercises using just your own body weight (in other words they can be done anywhere).

Squats: Works lower body.  With your feet shoulder width apart, chest up, lower back tight, lower yourself like you were sitting in a chair, pushing your butt back.  Once your knees break 90 degrees, stand back up and thrust the hips forward squeezing the glutes (butt).

Push-ups: Works upper body and core.  Start on your hands and knees.  Place the hands directly under your shoulders forming a straight line from the shoulder to the wrist.  Spread the fingers on the ground to provide a solid base of support.  Extend the legs backwards, coming up onto the toes feet can be together or few inches apart.  Your body should be in a straight line from head to heels (do not allow the butt to raise above the hips).  Lower yourself towards the ground keeping your head inline with the spine and bending the elbows back towards your toes (not out to the side).  Once your chest is an inch or so from the ground, push yourself back up to fully extended arms.  If the full push up is too challenging, you can perform these on your knees.  The position is very similar – from the hand and knees position, slide the knees back so that the majority of your body weight is on your hands. Keep your hands below the shoulder, shoulder width apart.

Lunges: Works lower body and core (balance).  Start with your feet together.  Step forward with your right foot as you lower your body down towards the floor.  Your front leg should form a 90 degree angle, keeping the knee over the ankle and not allowing it to go over the toe.  If you struggle with the knee going over the toe, step forward a little more.  Your rear foot will be on the toes and the knee should be bent towards the floor without touching the knee to the floor.  Push yourself off from the heel of the front foot coming back to a standing position with feet together.  Repeat on the other side.

Burpees: Works full body.  Start in a standing position, feet together or hip width apart.  Lower your hands to the floor into push up position while jumping your feet back into push up position.  Do a push up.  Jump your feet forward towards your hands, coming up right and jumping up into the air. Land back in the starting position.  A modified option for beginners is to walk the feet back into push up position and then walk them forward.

Here is a great 16 minute warm up and workout that will leave you sweating and will burn calories and provide an afterburn effect (you keep burning calories post workout).  The best part – you are getting some cardio in as well by performing these as HIIT (high intensity interval training).  All you will need is a timer or stop watch, some water and a towel.  Trust me, you will sweat!

Warm up:

  • March in place for 1 minute
  • Jumping jacks for 1 minute (or you can do walking jacks.  Instead of jumping feet out, move one foot out while raising arms, return the foot and repeat on the other side.  This is 1 repetition).
  • High knees or march in place 1 minute

Workout:   Do as many repetitions (reps) as you can, working as hard as you can in the time allotted

  • Squats – 1 minute
  • rest 30 seconds
  • Push ups – 1 minute
  • rest 30 seconds
  • Lunges – 1 minute alternating legs
  • rest 30 seconds
  • Burpees – 1 minute
  • rest 1 minute
  • repeat

You can perform this work out 2 to 3 times a week with a day of rest in between.  Have time for more?  Perform a total of 4 rounds for a 30 minute calorie blasting workout.

Submitted by Jodi Langellotti avid runner, fitness enthusiast and Health and Wellness Coach

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