Fitness Friday: The Kick-butt Compound Exercise Series

Happy Friday everyone! I feel like I’ve finally turned the corner on this flu/cold so today I’ll delight you with a video clip demonstrating the Fitness Friday exercise. Before I do, though, I want to talk a bit about the Kick-butt Compound Exercise Series.

Compound exercises are those strength training exercises that target multiple muscle groups and require movement at more than one joint. To give you a basic example, a squat is a compound exercise, because it directly targets the hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes, and it requires movement at both the knee and hip joints. Leg extensions, on the other hand, target only the quadriceps and require movement only at the knee joint.

While single joint exercises have their place in a well-rounded strength training routine,¬†compound exercises are considered “superior” because they stimulate more muscle fibers, generating a greater metabolic response; they give you more “bang for your buck” by working multiple muscle groups at once; and they more closely simulate human activities of daily living. (Sticking with the squat/leg extension example, we humans do need to bend down and pick stuff up quite a bit, but standing on one leg while straightening and bending the other has no useful purpose.)

There are some complex compound exercises that work several muscle groups at once, getting both the upper and lower body involved. In truth, these exercises are really a string of two or more compound exercises performed as one fluid motion, but I prefer to think of them as a micro workout comprised of just a single exercise. These are the kinds of exercises I’ll be including in the Kick-butt series. They¬†are very challenging, complex movements, which is what makes them so great. It can also make them more risky, however, especially for novice exercisers. As with every exercise you see here, only attempt these if you’ve been cleared by your physician for moderate to intense exercise and have no physical limitations that would preclude you from safely completing them. And even for you old pros out there, it’s a good idea to try these with no weight for a few reps to be sure you’ve got the technique and form down before you add resistance.

So, without further delay, I bring you the first exercise in the Kick-butt series: the One-legged Dip to Overhead Press, or as I like to think of it, the Strong Drinking/Not Drinking Bird.

Hold a dumbbell in your right hand. Lift your left foot off the ground and balance on your right foot. Slowly bend slightly (about 15 degrees) at the knee as you hinge forward at the hip joint to lower the dumbbell down toward the floor about two feet in front of you. Using your right glute muscles, reverse the motion and return to an upright position as you transition the dumbbell to shoulder height and then press it straight overhead, all while maintaining balance on your right foot. Do 8 to 12 repetitions, then switch sides.
This move has a lot going on: You’re constantly working the small stabilizer muscles of the lower leg, ankle and knee in order to maintain balance; you’re giving your glutes a great workout with the hip-hinge motion; you’re working your quads a bit with the slight knee bend; and you’re targeting your front and medial deltoids with the overhead press.

Here’s what it looks like:


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