#FatblasterFriday | shorten your workouts with compound exercises

Most of us have better things to do than spend hours in the gym.

We want to get fit. We want to be healthy. We want to lose weight. But we have jobs and families and volunteer work and other things to do too.

When I ask clients how long they’re willing to commit to a single workout session, most tell me an hour. Including warming up, foam rolling and stretching.

My solution? Ditch the isolation exercises for whole body, compound movements. In my opinion, it’s one of the very best ways to up the intensity of your strength training workout

Not only do compound exercises get you out of the gym more quickly, because they involve more muscle groups, they also tend to be metabolic in nature. That means they’ll elevate your heart rate and burn more calories than single joint isolation exercises.

My favourite compound exercises combine an upper body movement with a squat or lunge. While you won’t be able to use as heavy a weight as you might if you were ONLY squatting or lunging, you’ll still generate a ‘burn’ if you keep the tempo up and resist the urge to take breaks between sets.

Today’s #FatblasterFriday workout consists of 5, whole body compound exercises. The only equipment required is a set or two of moderate to heavy dumbbells (you decide what’s ‘heavy’ for you, but by the end of a set, if you’re not starting to struggle you probably need a bit more weight…).

Perform 10 repetitions of each exercise in circuit style, without rest. Pause at the end of the circuit, then repeat a 2nd and a 3rd time.

compound exercises

Did you like this workout? Then PLEASE

  • WATCH and DO the workouts with me
  • SUBSCRIBE to fitknitchick on YouTube 
  • CHECK OUT the #FatblasterFriday Playlist for more, real time workouts
  • PIN the above WORKOUT PHOTO
  • GIVE me your FEEDBACK on YouTube or in the COMMENTS section below
  • LIKE and SHARE my videos with your friends via email, Facebook and Twitter


Disclaimer: Although I am a registered Personal Trainer, I am not YOUR Personal Trainer. Always adapt workouts to suit your body and fitness level. Always consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.




  1. love this ….thanks!!
    Kathy recently posted…Taking a little breakMy Profile

  2. I always tell people they’re called “isolation” exercises becuase the isolate you from the rest of your life 🙂

    True true true…
    Contemplative Fitness recently posted…On social cancers, building walls, and establising legitimacy…My Profile

  3. Love compound moves!!! My all-time favorite way to work!
    Great tips on your video!
    Kim recently posted…Twittering, Tweeting, Hashtag………What?????My Profile

  4. I do a lot of compound work too, though I try to do heavier, isolation weight training at least once a week. But the compound work really gets my heart rate up! Thanks for another video to add to my collection. 🙂
    Carrie Rubin recently posted…My Favorite ThingsMy Profile

    • Carrie, that’s a great way to combine the two. I like to add in one or two isolation or “vanity” exercises at the end of my workout. My clients love it when I let them choose a single body part exercise to add after the harder work!

  5. By the second half of each quarter, I won’t even let my students do single-joint moves. They are nagged to do compound moves.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…Special Mind/Body Collections for Special BoomersMy Profile

  6. Love your videos always!!!!! Your explanations are great & so easy to follow the whole thing & a graphic too! I may be the one person out there that likes isolation moves over compound & I am sticking to that no matter how many con articles are out there. I understand it takes longer but sometimes I just need heavier weights for certain body parts & the compound exercises don’t allow me to do that. I can sculpt my body & body parts the way I want. I am not saying that compound moves are not good cause they are so great for you – I just do what I think works best for me BUT it does take me longer! 🙂 I love the compound move workouts for short on time & for really most people – they love them.. I am the weird one! 😉
    Jody – Fit at 55 recently posted…Two Push-up Moves for Core, Chest, Balance, Triceps & Body!My Profile

    • Thanks Jody! Yes, when you have lots of time to train (and weight loss is not your primary goal), isolation moves work well.
      As Kymberly pointed out, different strategies work well for different goals!
      You are not weird; you just know what works for YOU!

  7. Even my “forever fit” seniors can do compound moves cuz my peeps ROCK the ages! They moan and groan, but they can do them. On alternating weeks we’ll do some isolation exercises to vary and to confirm good form. Jody raises a good point, which is that the exercise (type, organizing principle, intensity, etc) is determined by the goal. Well stated!
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…Special Mind/Body Collections for Special BoomersMy Profile

    • Thanks for the reminder that different goals warrant different approaches! And I agree, you’re never too old for compound moves. I have several over-70 clients who are amazingly coordinated with the challenging exercises I give them!

  8. Yup, the time it takes, that is the stumbling block! I try for an hour or an hour and a half when I skate. I’ve been skipping my stretches and PT exercises beforehand which has finally caught up with me. Now I’m trying to do a little stretching, just ten minutes, it really helps. And I will also try to work in some off-ice exercise to target my posture and knee alignment starting next week. It’s really hard to fit it in but I can’t avoid it forever or various neglected parts will have their say.
    Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted…With a bit of churn, signed up to skate Pacific Coast SectionalsMy Profile

    • Time is always the thing we have the least of, isn’t it Mary! I gave up trying to fit it all in and now just do what I can! A little bit of everything to stay well rounded and healthy!

  9. Hurray! Have been eagerly waiting for the next one.. and I LOVE LOVE that you tell us what to be prepared for as far as moves in the video go. Thanks, Tamara, will be trying this out soon.
    Elle recently posted…Grandma Lill’s Happy 96th Birthday Virtual 5KMy Profile

    • Hi Elle! So happy to hear that you like these videos! Let me know how you like the workout after you’ve given it a go!

  10. I LOVE compound movements. For me strength training is the thing I spend the least amount of time on (compared to the rest of triathlon training) and I want to maximize my time. I also find these moves more functional, which equals more relevant for athletes in my area. Excellent! 🙂

    Pinning this!
    Heather @ Better With Veggies recently posted…Eating on the Run {Fitness Friday}My Profile

    • Thanks for the visit Heather! Yes, when you’re short on time, compound is the way to go. And functional strength training is good for every BODY!

  11. I LOVE this workout! I pinned it for later! Thanks!!! 🙂 – Lea
    Lea recently posted…How to Make Your Treadmill Runs Not SuckMy Profile

  12. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I love compound moves. I tend to hate working only one muscle group at a time. Great workout for me to pin and save. Thanks!

    • You’re so welcome! I love Saturday mornings! Hanging out in bed, with extra coffee and catching up on blog reading!
      Thanks for pinning!

  13. I don’t get why people are so much into isolations, especially guys with biceps curls. Do push-ups and pull-ups and you practically have a complete upper body workout: chest, triceps, biceps, lats and tons of the smaller muscles.
    evilcyber recently posted…The Cabbage Soup Diet – A Self-ExperimentMy Profile

  14. Hello! Thanks for this timely video. Nice! I’ve been getting bored with my workout and try to squeeze it in early a.m. This will make the most of the short time I have and break up the monotony. Thanks!

    p.s. Haven’t been posting on Skinnyandfit lately, but I’ll make a post soon and post a link to this post.
    gloriadelia recently posted…Weight Loss tips for Busy PeopleMy Profile

    • Morning Gloria
      Happy to help! I’ve got a bunch of videos that need shooting and editing this week. Hoping to have several new ones up in the next few weeks!


  1. […] been reading up on Compound Exericses lately – this is a great explanation and workout. (via […]

  2. […] Compound Moves for a great workout […]

  3. […] efficiency in exercise. Choose compound, whole body movements rather than isolation exercises. Involving more muscles in your workout not only burns more […]

  4. […] Shorten your workout with compound exercises – from Tamara at Fitknitchick. A 5-exercise, whole-body, super efficient weights workout. (Includes a video!) […]