Compound Dumbbell Exercise

Compound Dumbbell Exercise

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Seated dumbbell shoulder presses are a compound exercise.

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Compound exercises involve movement of two or more joints and thus have a practical carryover for everyday activities and playing sports. This is in direct contrast to isolation exercises, which involve a single joint and provide less functional benefits for daily life. Compound exercises also allow you to work multiple muscles simultaneously, which saves you time. They can be performed using barbells, resistance bands, strength training machines and dumbbells. Using dumbbells usually requires the most balance and stability as controlling two weights is harder than controlling just one.

Upper Body Exercises

You can work your chest, shoulders or back muscles using compound dumbbell exercises. Pushing exercises involve your triceps as do pulling exercises. Overhead pushing exercises, which can be performed while seated or standing, target your shoulder muscles; supine pressing exercises, such as the dumbbell bench press, target your shoulders. Rowing exercises target your back muscles, which are also known as your latissimus dorsi muscles or lats for short.

Lower Body Exercises

You can use dumbbells to perform a wide variety of lower body compound exercises. These exercises target your quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus maximus muscles as well as your abductors and adductors to a lesser degree. Lunges, step ups, squats, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats and squat jumps are all effective compound leg exercises performed with dumbbells.

Core Exercises

"Core" is the term for the muscles of your midsection, which include the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis and erector spinae. These muscles work together to support your spine as you move your arms and legs. Because the muscles of your core seldom work in isolation and working each muscle individually with a separate exercise would take a lot of time, compound core exercises are effective and efficient. Turkish get-ups, single-arm waiter's and farmer's walks, Russian twists and dumbbell wood chops are all effective compound core exercises.

Whole Body Exercises

At the top of the compound exercise tree are the whole body exercises. These exercises involve several muscle groups, burn lots of calories and also drive your heart rate sky-high when you use heavy weights or perform many repetitions. These exercises are more advanced than the compound dumbbell exercises that target a specific area, so start by using light weights and performing few repetitions. Examples of whole body compound dumbbell exercises include thrusters, high pulls, cleans, snatches, swings, squats, the curl and press, dumbbell burpees and renegade rows.