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Compound Lifts: A Beginner’s Guide

Compound Lifts: A Beginner’s Guide Update

Compound lifts are great exercises for strengthening large amounts of muscle groups at one time. These workouts force the whole body to work in unison which creates a significantly larger impact on your progress rather than focussing on isolated exercises working one muscle/joint at a time. They also work the muscles you tend to utilise in day-to-day situations (i.e. lifting heavy objects) or at sporting events such as Tough Mudder – where you need great core strength for the variety of tasks set out for you.

Tough Mudder is an extremely physically demanding event calling for high demand of your cardiovascular system alongside your leg and upper-body strength. Therefore, mixing compound lifts with cardio workouts or interval training is an excellent way to prepare for the physical strain of Tough Mudder. Check out our article dissecting the effects of interval training here.

Here are several compound lift exercises for you try out.


When performed correctly squats can form a strong foundation to the development of your entire body. It places pressure on your lower back, waist, upper back as well as chest, arms and shoulders too – from that huge list, you can see how effective the exercise can be in training a large amount of muscles. The squat is carried out by nestling a bar applied with your desired weight across the shoulders and upper back – it’s then a case of lowering your body by bending at the knees before rising again to standing position.  


Deadlifts are often regarded as the essential weightlifting exercise being proficient in gaining mass and strengthening the major muscle groups.  To deadlift, you need to add your desired weights to a bar (start small with none at all to get familiar with the technique and work your way up), bend over and grab the bar without bending your legs, bend your knees and pull inhaling as you go until you stand straight with the weight – lower the bar back to the ground in the same fashion and repeat.    

Bench Press

The bench press is a fantastic workout for the upper body working the shoulders, triceps and back. Lie down on the bar bench with your back flat against the cushion and keep your feet flat on the floor, tense your back and squeeze your shoulders whilst you take the bar off the rack and push up slowly before lowering it back to your chest. It’s important to master control over the weight on this workout so you can reap the full benefits, slowly pushing and lowering allows all your muscle fibres to stretch fully – dropping the bar cuts out half the workout!


Dips are a great way of utilising your bodyweight for exercise – this action mainly targets chest and triceps but also engages the lower back and forearms. To carry out the exercise, position yourself at the dip machine with your arms locked, cross your legs and bend at the knees while you descend – the key is to keep your forearms locked into place – once you have lowered yourself, lift yourself up by tensing your triceps and shoulders.

There you have it, a guide to four compound lifts which will help you form a sturdy foundation for muscle growth and development. As well as assisting your body through everyday tasks, it can also be a great thing to maintain in preparation for intense sporting events such as Tough Mudder. Complete your workout or your Tough Mudder trail in the good company of TREK bars providing you with a hefty punch of protein to keep your body fuelled. Here’s our TREK Tough Mudder Energy Mixed Box, specially designed for Tough Mudder but also useful for everyday workouts due to the 9g of protein packed into our TREK Protein Energy Bars and the huge 12g packed into our TREK Protein Energy Chunks.   


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