The ’70s and ’80s saw the birth of the globo-gym era and with it a limited, narrow conception of what training looked like. Most people who exercised chose either bodybuilding or “aerobics.”
Despite all the headbands and flashy colors, aerobics was not much different than a lot of the popular weight loss programs of the modern world. The basic concept was to move a lot and you’d lose weight. It works. There doesn’t need to be a lot of rhyme or reason. More movement tends to have that effect.
Where aerobics focused on shrinking the body, bodybuilding was all about isolating muscle groups to make them as large as possible. Thus, the majority of weightlifters flocked to machines where they would individually work their biceps, triceps, pecs, shoulders, quads, hamstrings, abductors, and calves.
Knee extensions and lat pull-downs replaced squats and pull-ups. When weightlifters used free-weights they, likewise, isolated individual muscles, doing preacher curls, and skull crushers. Of course, there is an obvious exception—the bench press.
Like the monks of the dark ages who copied the works of Plato and Aristotle, only a rare few kept alive the compound movements. Typically these were athletes who, driven by a need to perform, remained committed to finding the best way to train the human body. This is to train movement patterns, not isolated muscles.
All humans are athletes, at least in how they are meant to move. We must maintain the fundamental human movement patterns: the push (vertical and horizontal), the pull (vertical and horizontal), the hip hinge and hip dominant movement family, the squat and knee dominant movement family, and locomotion.
Compound Movements Are Effective
Today, compound movements have been restored to their rightful place atop the exercise hierarchy. Whether you are trying to lose weight, tone, or add muscle, your program almost certainly involves squats, lunges, hinges, hip thrusts, rows, and presses.
But does it combine these movements? You probably do RDL’s and maybe you’ve even worked up to one of my favorites, the single leg RDL. But have you done a single leg RDL row? By adding a rowing motion at the bottom of the hinge your glutes, core, and balance are worked even harder.
There are tons of these double compound movements that can be combined to create a fast, extremely powerful training effect. Because they combine multiple movements at once they get more work done in less time.
Try the following circuits, where I pick six of my favorite double compound movements and combine them for a fast, extremely metabolic training dose.
Double Compound Circuit 1
3 Rounds of:
- Thruster – x10
- RDL Rows – x5 per side
- Alternating Glute Bridge Crunch – x5 per side
Double Compound Circuit 2
3 Rounds of:
- Sumo Deadlift High-Pull – x10
- Atomic Push-Ups – x10
- Renegade Row – x10 per side
- Split Squat Chop – x5 per side
Variation of deadlift high pull courtesy of Greg Walsh of Wolf Brigade.
Fitness For Busy Schedules
That is it—both circuits hit every muscle in your body. You’ll be soaked in sweat in no time at all. These circuits are perfect for fitting in a lot of fitness on a busy day, or for those days where you want to start with a lot of skill work and end with a bang.
For more unique exercise combinations check out my Push, Pull, and Thrive program.