Unlike a bicep curl, which is an isolating exercise, and only works one muscle at a time, a compound exercise works two or more muscle groups. The classic example of a compound exercise is a bench press which utilizes triceps, deltoids and pectorals.
However, not all compound exercises are geared towards weightlifting. There are compound exercises that seriously raise your heart rate, burn fat, and still strengthen and tone the body. Example: Bicycling uses multiple leg muscles, raises your heart rate dramatically, while building muscles in your legs and burns calories like crazy.
Another example is boxing, which although it is a sport, it utilizes muscle groups in the whole body and makes for a great cardio exercise - and requires great balance and agility.
As such compound exercises are great for people who want more time efficient workouts and want a workout that is more geared towards weight loss, while simultaneously building muscle. Being able to work more than one muscle at a time cuts down on the overall time requirement for your fitness regimen. Such exercises also tend to work the core from having to balance, change levels, and twist / turn.
Here are three great compound exercises for you to try at home!
In a wide stance holding a dumbbell in each hand, turn the toes out, with your body facing forward. Lunge over to one side, keeping the knee over the ankle and behind the toe. As you lunge row the weight back like a one arm row with your opposite arm. Then place that weight on the floor. Repeat on the other side so that both weights are now on the floor. When you lunge back to the first side pick the weight up and row. Go to the other side and do the same. Alternate between pick up, drop off and rows. This one will really make you sweat!
2. For your lower body, biceps, shoulders, core try Squats, Curls and Raises
With one heavy weight held with both hands go into a squat. Remember to keep all of the weight on your heels, and push your bum far back. On the way back up to starting position curl the weight like a bicep curl and as you stand, raise it over your head. Get the weight back down hanging in front of your body before starting the next squat, curl and raise rep.
3. For your lower body, chest, triceps, shoulders, core try Lunges + Push Ups
Stand in a wide stance. Point one toe away from your body and go down into a lunge, placing your hands onto the floor. Sweep your forward leg back into a plank position and do a push up. Bring the same working leg back in between your hands and lunge back up to staring position. Change sides.
The above three exercises also go well with cardio intervals (like jumping jacks or skip rope), alternated between isolating exercises, or on their own. If you grow bored with them try making up your own compound exercises that focuses on the muscle groups you want to work with the most.