Why Compound Lifts Lead to Greater Physique Improvements

woman lifting black and gray barbell

For today’s post, I wanted to discuss the importance of performing compound lifts as part of a fitness routine. Compound lifts describe exercises that utilize multiple muscles at once as opposed to just a singular muscle.

This is the reason why some compound lifts are often referred to as multijoint lifts and why isolation lifts are referred to as unilateral lifts. I have written about the difference between both types of exercises here.

What are the benefits of performing compound lifts?

Compound lifts are exercises that are notorious for their effectiviness at calorie expenditure and for their ability to create muscle mass.

Both the fat-burning and muscle-building effect of compound lifts are desirable as they contribute to an aesthetically pleasing fitness physique.

How do compound lifts condition the body to look aesthetically pleasing?

The physique that is attained through performing compound lifts is the result of increased GH levels. GH stands for growth hormone. This hormone is largely responsible for increased muscle mass, fat reduction and overall muscular development that is evident in a fitness model’s physique.

On the other hand, isolation lifts are not as effective at stimulating GH levels. Therefore, it is sometimes recommended to perform compound lifts before isolation lifts for the reason that the boost in GH levels can lend itself to growth of isolated body parts.

Will I get bulky if I start utilizing compound lifts? What about those female bodybuilders who have super masculine physiques, isn’t that how they train? I want to become toned and feminine.

The biggest misconception associated with compound lifts is the myth that women will develop bulky and masculine physiques as a result of their hard training. This stereotype is harmful and prevents women from developing their most aesthetically-pleasing physiques. My personal belief is that the female body’s musculature is naturally quite aesthetic and it’s development is a testament towards how naturally equipped the body is to develop through weight-lifting.

The way that I often view female muscular development is that unless a woman takes a testosterone-boosting supplement, her body will quite beautifully adapt to her frame, this is just a personal belief that some may disagree with. I have yet to see a well-developed natural female body that does not fit the definition of naturally aesthetic.

low angle photography of woman in blue brassiere and blue bottoms

What are the physical differences between males and female physiques?

Simply, women’s hormonal make-up does not possess the testosterone levels associated with a big and muscular physique more commonly found in male physiques. Additionally, all hardness associated through muscular development specific to male characteristics is unattainable without the use of enhancements even for men.

What this means is that even men who train using compound lifts will not get the hard and masculine physiques, at the most they will also become more toned with male characteristics that they naturally have. It is only when the steroid or hormone-enhancer is introduced into the body that it develops in a dramatic and masculine fashion, this is not gender-specific.

The female body at a high natural musculature level remains both soft and toned. What this means is the sharpness, muscle fullness and vascularity are simply not in our female nature.

What are some compound lift exercises that will give me results?

I will give you a list of fourteen compound lifts that you can base your program on. Improving your strength on these lifts via the process of progressive overload will get you the enviable and aesthetic toned look that you want.

Compound lifts:



-Overhead Press

-Bench press 


-Lat Pull Down 

-Abdominal Bicycle 

-Hip Thrust 

-Pull Up/Chin-Up  

-Push Up 


-Step Up

-Arnold Press 

In order to maximize hypertrophy (the process that allows you to build muscle mass), perform three sets of 8-12 repetitions of each compound lift exercise. Also, make sure to take a 60 second rest whenever needed.

As for organizing your program around these lifts, you can check out this awesome resource on how to create your own workout program.

What else can I know about compound lifts in relation to having a nice physique?

We can understand this through exploring the relationship between compound lifts and muscle-building. Specifically, as we mentioned earlier, the relationship between your body’s GH levels are closely attributed to compound lifts.

 Since growth hormone (GH) is primarily responsible for the process of breaking down fat, this will inevitably lead to more desirable outcomes. 

Additionally, compound lifts use up more calories and larger muscle fibers, they also require more recovery adaptation time throughout the day. Compound lifts also set into motion adaptation processes that are largely influential in creating changes in your physique.

On top of doing compound lifts like the squat and the deadlift as part of my program, what kind of cardio should I be doing to maintain my low levels of body fat?

High intensity interval training is an excellent method of maintaining low body fat levels. This method should be used sparingly however it is super effective in creating a physique that looks strong and healthy as opposed to malnourished and skinny. (How to develop a female cover model physique – Cover Model Workout)

Think about high intensity interval training as resulting in a reduction of body fat and a maintenance of muscle and think of other types of cardio such as running as reducing both. This is why I highly do not recommend any other type of cardio for fat loss as it compromises the sexy muscles that you will need to create your most developed physique.(How to develop a female cover model physique – Cover Model Workout)

What are some other advantages to compound lifts?

Compound lifts utilize more than just one muscle, this means that if you are pressed for time, you can perform just a few on the list above and be getting a full-body workout.

Over time, this results in higher quality training sessions that involve more exertion but ensure that you are getting the toned and fit physique.

The uncomfortable feeling of lifting heavy is understandably an area of concern and is shared by a lot of women. This alone draws away a lot of women from performing these at the gym.

The only way that I can alleviate the concerns regarding the pain of heavy lifting is to let you know that the fit and toned physique requires it.

It is not the only type of body to have. For instance, a runner’s physique is the result of long spurts of cardiovascular expenditure over time. A yogi’s body is the product of stretching and lengthening week in and week out. Both men and women who engage in these sports are more focussed on the discipline than the body, and if they are not, then they begin to become accustomed to it.

woman performing yoga on shore during daytime

If your heart is towards having a fitness model physique, then you can become accustomed to it once you start developing the discipline required for weight-lifting which requires pain tolerance. Pain tolerance is not an innate trait, it can be developed, and this is good news for you.

The result of hard work on the body is the body’s hard development as an adaptation response. Even after my 5 years of training, I still feel the pain of lifting heavy. I also still feel sore the day after I do squats and deadlifts.

This meant that I had to start accommodating other areas of my life to compensate for the pain that I experienced through weight-lifting which meant the following for me:

  1. I had to stop partying.
  2. I had to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
  3. I needed to get serious about my eating. Both under-eating and over-eating were no longer acceptable for me.

Simply, by tweaking these other areas, the pain of training became more bearable.

Ask any female athlete, personal trainer or fit gym-goer and they will tell you that they still feel discomfort of lifting weights. The only difference is in the perception of it.

woman leaning on black steel barbell

What advice do you have to beginners on starting their weight-lifting journey?

For beginners, before aiming to lift heavy on the compound lifts, I recommend a trial of form-perfecting and mind-muscle engagement for a few months. This period is only to create a baseline/habit of being around weights so that the small increments of 2-5 kg can feel natural to you.

Get yourself to the gym and start practicing your form on bodyweight squats, deadlifts with an unloaded bar, assisted pull-ups, etc. The following week, you can start adding 2-5kg plates until you start to develop greater overall strength.

This strategy guarantees slow and sustainable progress over time. Remember, the name of the game is long-term success, so do not rush, only aim to be better than you were yesterday and you will have the winning mindset.

Let me know what you guys thought of this post on compound lifts in the comments section below. I hope that you enjoyed the read.


How to develop a female cover model physique – Cover Model Workout. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2020, from http://www.mac-nutrition.com/articles/exercise/how-to-develop-a-cover-model-physique/


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Elias says:

    You have a variety of wisdom, experience, and motivation. You gave an A to Z about every step to achieve a fit body. Hope as much people read this, and get advices from it. Than you Tara for your time, support, and beautiful words ❤.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elias, thank you so much for your kind words. 😊 I really appreciate you taking the time to comment on my post. I’m happy you gained some knowledge from my article, it truly gives me joy knowing that you benefited from this. ❤️


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