Going to a gym and hopping on an expensive piece of weight equipment is great. Most of the time they have padded seats, with easily adjustable resistance levels, handles to grip, and a nicely oiled track/mechanical apparatus for your engaged body part to move. But, the downside is that these movements and machines do not replicate real life and real movement that is used everyday. When was the last time that you where in a seated position and straightened both legs…as done while using leg extension machine? And would you be doing this movement in the big race you’ve been training for? No. So, why do we train our muscles in ways we’d seldom use them? Instead, we should be using compound and unilateral movements (using one side of our body at a time) to accomplish these tasks.

Simply training one side of our body, one of our limbs, coupling multiple exercises, or adding resistance to our normal everyday movements would be an obvious solution to implementing this type of training. But, one that I would like to talk about now is multi-joint movements.

There are many movements that use your bodyweight (squats, pull-ups, push-ups, leg raises, sit-ups, etc.) and natural movements to achieve a complete workout. These exercises can be combined or modified to build strength and muscle quickly. Multi-joint movements, commonly called compound exercises, are an efficient way to get a full-body workout done in less time, targeting multiple muscle groups at once. They can be done both unilaterally and bilaterally. The more joints that are worked, the more muscle fibers are activated and the better your results will be. I am a large advocate of swimming for this very reason. Swimmers tend to have very muscular and toned bodies. The act of swimming engages all of your muscles from head to toe.

There are many factors that make compound exercises extremely effective at building a lean, ripped body. Here’s a quick overview:

  • By activating more muscle fibers, you place a greater demand on your body and rapidly consume more energy than when performing isolated movements. In turn, this has a metabolic effect, helping you burn more fat quickly.
  • When you activate multiple muscle groups by moving on one or more planes, you also stimulate and strengthen a great deal of smaller stabilizing muscles.
  • Real-life activities don’t happen while sitting on a bench lifting a weight on a cable. Natural movements are on multiple planes using multiple muscles at the same time. Training with compound movements improves performance in athletics as well as regular daily activity.
  • Multi-joint movements are extremely efficient, activating more muscle fibers in less time than when performing multiple isolation exercises.

So, what’s an example of a multi-joint exercise? Burpees! As seen in the attached picture, a burpee starts out by squatting down, extending into an extended push-up position (doing a push up if you want), getting back up into a squat position, and then jumping vertically into the air with your arms stretched above your head. Repeat. Trust me, doing a set of 10-15 of these will engage almost all of your body’s muscles.

About the Author

Christopher Kazda is a Certified Personal Trainer and a Chiropractic Technician at New Beginnings Chiropractic, 1861 Business Hwy 18/151, Mount Horeb, WI 53572. He is available Monday through Saturday to help you reach your fitness goals.

Please call 715-302-2153 or 608-437-9990, email at kazdakinetics@gmail.com, or visit www.newbeginningschiropractic.net, for more information or to schedule an appointment.