Getting started with compound lifts

Getting started with compound lifts

2 June 2016


“Starting a new fitness regime can be overwhelming. If you’re looking to improve fitness, build muscle mass or burn fat – look no further than compound lifts,” says Ash Forster, Australian Fitness Professional.

Today, training options available to the average person are unlimited, especially with the growing volume of information on the internet and the ability to share achievements and workouts via social media and health APPS. A simple google search for fitness will yield almost an infinite number of exercises, methods, workout locations and/or fitness equipment to help you achieve you goals and obtain your ideal physique.

But what if you’re a beginner?


You might have unlimited motivation, but lack experience and confidence in the world of health and fitness. You might be out of shape and feel like taking a step forward is too hard. Which path do you choose and how do you know it is right for you?

The answer is…


As awe-inspiring as a gymnastics muscle up, as smooth as a perfectly timed Olympic lift, or as soul shattering as a prowler sprint, the basics trump all these movements for convenience, scalable difficulty and effectiveness.

The basics are compound lifts that engage the largest amount of muscle mass while using the body’s natural stabilising musculature and connective tissue.


Compound lifts provide a simple entry point into the fitness world while allowing enough variety through speed, intensity, time and weight combinations to continue to yield great results no matter how far into the journey you push.

Compound lifts are multi-joint exercises that can be scaled to suit your level of fitness and goals. Whether you’re a beginner looking to improve posture, or an advanced body-builder sculpting your body for competition, basic compound lifts can create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest time, stimulating changes in metabolism and positively affecting hormones.

Examples of effective compound lifts:

  • Squats and squat variations (both bilateral and unilateral)
  • Press movements including standing presses and bench presses
  • Row movements including standing and supported options
  • Posterior chain and hinge movements like the dead lift


The ideal equipment for a compound lift, in my professional opinion are dumbbells and barbells. Barbells provide an easier option for heavier movements such as a 200kg squat, whereas dumbbells offer a more refined approach with generally a much better range of motion.

Lifting dumbbells will engage a lot of the stabilising muscles and tendons particularly when doing unilateral (single limb) movements like the split squat or one arm row. Dumbbells also cater for a variety of body types, with the user defining the movement path and weight.

Dumbbells offer a limitless variety of workout options, and with small changes can yield big improvements in results over time. Simple, yet important alterations to movements such as a change in grip positions, the speed of movement or variation in muscle activation can keep you stimulated while continuing to deliver results.

“Compound lifts are also perfect for the home gym as they don’t take up a lot of space and can be completed in your own time. A program composed of compound exercises will provide a fitness foundation you can build upon and always return to reignite the fitness motivation.”

Check out the MX55s as a new alternative in the selectable dumbbell category. For more info on dumbbells, compound lifts or general MX55 training and fitness tips join our mailing list.

Train hard always,
your Fitness Professional
Ash Forster BSc(SprtsSc)


About Our Blogger – Ash

Ash is a movement and human performance specialist based in Western Australia. Specialising in weight loss, strength and conditioning and nutrition, Ash has an extensive martial arts background and is the founder of ‘Origin Fitness’.

Dedicating his time to self development and personal training, Ash seeks to improve the lives of others teaching physical autonomy, cultivating a healthy lifestyle and effective strength and conditioning training.

Constantly looking for new ‘flow states’ both in and out of the gym, Ash is driven by the desire to find new training modalities that challenge the limitations of traditional athletic improvement.

Ash holds a double degree in Sports Science and Nutrition from the Edith Cowan University. Ash is an Accredited Exercise Scientist through ESSA and a certified  instructor of ‘Animal Flow’, which combines quadrupedal and ground-based movement with elements from various bodyweight-training disciplines.