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Why Compound Moves are the Key to Getting Ripped
by Jari Love

I recently collaborated with exercise physiologist Cory Fagan at Peak Power Sport Development to see how many calories, carbohydrates and fats people burn during various exercises. I was specifically interested in comparing the benefits of compound exercises to isolation exercises. Using a metabolic chart, Cory tested 10 people, including myself, in his lab at SAIT.

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The results were astounding and proved that YES, people burn more calories through compound exercises than they do through isolation exercises. In fact, compound exercises burn 2–3 times more calories than isolation exercises. For example, a 71 kg. (156 lb.) male burns 4.3 kcals/ min with a bicep curl, but 9.0 kcals/ min by adding a deadlift in combination with a bicep curl. Similarly, a 55 kg. (121 lb.) female will burn 2.9 kcals/ min with a lateral dumbbell raise for the shoulders and over 8.0 kcals/ min by adding a lunge to the lateral raise. All of the data suggests that if you really want to burn more calories and make an impact, you need to involve the hips and legs into your exercises.

In regards to burning fat, we also discovered that people burn 100% carbohydrates during compound exercises. Although most individuals want to burn fat, burning carbohydrates is beneficial to individuals seeking weight and fat loss. The science behind this discovery is based on our bodies' very limited supply of carbohydrates for exercise, and when those stores get low, the body automatically releases fat to replace the muscle and liver carbohydrate. Think of compound strength training as a reverse method of losing fat. Compound exercises burn a lot of calories and carbohydrates, which causes fat to be utilized after the workout.

Many people believe that to target certain muscle groups, isolation exercises are the way to go. This is simply not the case. Isolation exercises, for example bicep curls and the chest fly, only work one muscle across a single joint. Both actions focus on one muscle in a single movement. Compound exercises, like squats, bench presses and lunges, work multiple muscles across more than one joint through a single movement. Not only do they reshape troubled areas, like your glutes and abs, they also sculpt secondary muscles like triceps and calves.

Six good reason to use compound exercises:

  1. Not only are you giving your body a more complete workout, you're enhancing your balance and improving your core all at the same time.
  2. Your heart rate stays elevated so you can perform the exercises longer. Isolation exercises produce more immediate lactic acid, causing you to fatigue quickly.
  3. If your goal is to lose weight and decrease body fat, then burning calories directly from carbs is the best way to do it. (To achieve those same results you'd have to run a 5 kilometer race.)
  4. Compound exercises also allow you to lift a heavier load (weight) because you involve more muscles in the action.
  5. When you take advantage of those large muscle groups, like the muscles of the lower body, you activate testosterone, which helps increase muscle.
  6. Compound exercises are also functional in daily activities, such as lifting a toddler or getting in and out of a car.

There's nothing wrong with performing isolation exercises during your workout. But if you don't have a lot of time to spend at the gym and you're trying to lose fat, then incorporating compound exercises into your routine is a more efficient way to do it.

Click here to read our review of Jari's DVD Get Ripped! at our sister site, Your Exercise DVDs

Click here to visit Jari's website.

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