Starting a weight lifting routine with compound exercises

Remember, before embarking on any fitness or weight loss regime, please remember to consult your doctor or physician.

If you intend to begin a weight lifting program but don’t know where to start, allow me to help you by introducing the big 3. I have a strong belief in the effectiveness of compound exercises.

To weight lifting neophytes, a compound exercise involves various groups of muscles. This is in contrast to an isolation exercise that only focuses on 1 muscle group.

Compound exercises are excellent at strengthening and toning various muscle groups. Because you can typically work with heavier loads when performing compound exercises, you also burn more calories.

I base my own work out routine among these 3 compound exercises, and if you’re not sure where to start, look no further than the big 3!

Squats
Squats are excellent at building lower body strength and power. Many muscles groups are required in order to perform a squat. Squats primarily work your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. However, your core plays an important role in stabilizing your body doing this movement, thereby activating your lower back and abdominal muscles as well.

If you’re new to weight-lifting, start out light or perform the motion with no weight at all. If you would like to perform this exercise with a load, consider using a Smith machine for added safety. Utilize a load that allows you to perform a maximum of 10 repetitions a set. I recommend 3 sets for beginners before moving on to 5 sets with added weights.

Remember to watch your form and to increase the weight in moderation!

Chin-ups
Chin-ups are excellent upper-body strength building exercises. Chin-ups primarily work your lats, but it also directly involves your biceps too. ‘Hanging’ from a chin-up bar will also stretch your pecs and triceps.

I enjoy performing chin-ups on the same day I do pec work for this very reason. If you want a V-shape for your upper body, start performing chin-ups now soldier!

I recommend utilizing an assisted chin-up machine, or a lat pull down machine for beginners. Use a grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-length. Grab the bar with a false-grip (thumbs on top of the bar, not wrapped around it) and pull with your ring and little finger.

Keep your chest out and your shoulder blades pinched back at the peak of contraction. If you are using a lat pull down machine, try to ensure that the bar touches the top of your chest. Straighten your arms as much as possible as you stretch and try to ‘hang’ for a moment before contracting again.

As with squats, try to use a load that allows you to perform a maximum of 10 repetitions for the first set. Try to perform 30 repetitions worth of chin ups spread out over a number of sets that feels comfortable for you.

Benches
Benches, or bench presses, are great at working the front of your upper body. What chin-ups do for your back, benches do for your front. Benches primarily work your pecs, but your front deltoids, and triceps are also involved in this epic movement.

I recommended starting this exercise on a ‘flat’ bench to begin with. Keep your arms slightly wider than shoulder width. I recommend using a true grip for this exercise (thumbs wrapped around the bar). When a false grip is used for benches, it is sometimes referred to as the ‘death grip’ and for good reason too. An overwhelming majority of bench accidents happen when a false grip is used.

Though proponents of the death grip swear by its supposed increase on pectoral intensity, I am unable to ascertain any noticeable difference.

Pinch your shoulders back slightly and ensure that the bar touches your chest at the end of this movement. The bar should touch the lower portion of your chest, where your pectorals meet your upper abdominals. Exhale as your contract. Straighten your arms as much as possible without locking your elbows.

If you can perform standard push ups, you should be able to perform benches with a decent amount of load. However, do get someone to spot you if you need the safety. Aim for a load that allows you to perform 6-8 repetitions for your first set. For added safety, you can use a Smith machine.

Finally, many women ask me if benches will help increase the size of their breasts. Unfortunately it will not. Breasts tissue is primarily made up of fat. Benches increase muscle mass in the chest area. Benches can help to firm up breasts tissue, which is excellent for voluptuous women. Top-heavy women may wish to consider a lower-back and pec workout in place of breast reduction surgery.

Contrary to popular belief, benches (in isolation) will not necessarily cause your breasts to deflate. Some women go down in cup size primarily due to losing weight after embarking on a fitness regime.

Somehow, I have a feeling that if benches could increase the size of a woman’s bust, I’d see a lot more women in the gym.

Remember; always consult your doctor or physician before embarking on any exercise or fitness regime!

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About Dedrick Koh

Dedrick Koh is a Social Media and Communications Specialist at Nanyang Polytechnic. He has a Bachelors (Murdoch) and Diploma (Ngee Ann Polytechnic) in Mass Communication. Dedrick is a communications professional and a highly skilled classical guitarist. As a communications professional, he has worked on brands like Coca Cola, DHL, Nokia, Nestle, the Health Promotion Board, the Economic Development Board of Singapore and the President Challenge. He gave private classical guitar during his polytechnic and undergraduate studies to put himself through school. He has succesfully prepared students for ABRSM and Trinity exams and was previously an instructor cum assistant conductor at Ngee Ann Polytechnic Strings under Alex Abisheganaden .