Compound / Multi-Joint / All-Body Exercises

Compound exercise is the term given to a movement that covers a wide range of motion, working several muscles or muscle groups simultaneously. This type of exercise is excellent for all over conditioning and functional fitness.

Squats combined with shoulder press:

This exercise adds a shoulder press to a squat to increase endurance and core strength. It can be performed with weight such as a barbell, but dumbbells are more manageable. Concentrate on maintaining correct form, with tummy tucked in tight, square elbows and belly, leg, hip and knee all in alignment.

  1. Stand with feet hip width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height with palms facing forwards.
  3. Keeping your tummy tight, squat down, keeping your weight over your heels and pushing your hips back.  Make sure that your knees point towards towards your second toe.
  4. Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up.

 Kettlebell Work Circuits:

Kettlebells are simply weights with a handle. The most well known exercise is the ‘Swing’ and it is the one you need to perfect before going onto any other type of kettlebell related exercise.

The One Arm Swing:

  1. Hold the kettlebell in an overhand grip and soften your elbow slightly.
  2. Stand with your feet hip width apart.
  3. Squeeze your core muscles by engaging your abdominals – pulling them from your navel to your spine.
  4. Bring the kettlebell up level with your eyes and away from your body by rocking your hips and bringing up the kettlebell with momentum.
  5. Pause at the top and control the weight on the way down to avoid injury.

In the video above, Rick Mayo demonstrates five great kettlebell circuits for strength or conditioning / cardio vascular. This depends on the weight / load – the shorter the rest period the more of a conditioning effect you will achieve. The following routine can be carried out with a 30 second break in between and 60 seconds between each circuit, aiming for about 3 circuits:

  • Clean and Press – 5 reps
  • Renegade Row – 6 reps on each side
  • Turkish Get Up -3 reps on each side
  • Double Kettlebell Squat – 12 reps
  • Hand to Hand Swings – 30 reps

Farmer’s Walk:

The Farmer’s Walk is fantastic for targeting the shoulders, biceps, glutes, quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, lower and upper back and upper traps. It will also challenge your grip strength like nothing else!

Commonly used in Strongman competitions, the core muscles and legs will be tested to the limit by this simple exercise. You don’t need to invest in special equipment either as you can use dumbbells, or buy a pair of Farmer’s Walk handles online to use on barbells.

  • Use chalk to help you grip the handles, especially if you tend to sweat.
  • Stand in the centre of the handles, but if you shift, make sure you shift backwards to allow the two strongest fingers to support the weight.
  • Press your heels into the ground.
  • Start by using short, choppy steps, not long strides that can set you off balance.
  • If you need to turn, make the front ends touch together for extra stability.

Weighted Step-Ups

The Weighted Step-Up is useful to help build leg strength with a low risk of injury to the body. It specifically targets the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps, without placing undue stress on knee joints, hips and back. You can increase the intensity of the workout by altering the height of the step, the weight and the speed with which each rep is performed.

As some people tend to favour one side over another, this exercise is particularly useful in that each leg is worked separately and is built equally.

Balance and co-ordination are tested with the effort needed to control the weight on the way up and down, forwards and backwards.

Step Height:

Start off low, about 10 centimetres off the ground, increasing the height according to strength.


You can even begin with no weights, but it’s good to start off with a little, even if they are very light 1kg weights on each side.

  • For strength training, use higher weights and fewer reps (8-12.
  • For conditioning / cardio-vascular training, increase your speed and increase the number of reps (20-30).

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