Compound Movements And Smaller Muscle Groups

big muscular back

Jan 13, 2016


Hi Blake,

By the way, I really like the new website as its very user friendly.

The Most Complete Nutritional Sprays on The Planet!

- Increase Performance!
- Weight Management!
- Sleep Support!
- Promote Wellness!
- Increase Natural Energy!

Click here to find out more

I guess I have wanted to go to these types of programs because I just feel that they are more effective. I don't plan on competing in a bodybuilding competition, so why am I doing 3 different movements for arms. I just want to be bigger and stronger while keeping up on my conditioning. I really got this from one of your articles saying:

"The point I’m trying to make is that you absolutely must stick to the heavy, compound movements if you ever want to have a pair of big arms. If your arms are less than 16", drop all of the concentration curls and triceps kickbacks type movements and go back to the basics. In fact, get rid of all isolation exercises in your training routine and go with compound movements. To this day, I don’t do any isolation movements. Unless you’re dieting and preparing for a contest, get rid of them."

It makes total sense to me. It's just sometimes you read things where BB rows, chin ups and deadlifts work different areas for the back and you have to do deadlifts if you want to get huge or how the military press builds big front delts. What about the sides and back of the shoulder? That is what gets me confused! If I could achieve the goals I'm looking for with one compound move, I would rather since I don't want to waste my time in the gym. If I could get bigger and stronger biceps with just the BB curl and huge shoulders with just the DB shoulder press then why do 3 or 4 more exercises?

I know diet has a lot to do with the amount of fat you hold but would jogging 2-3 miles 2-3 x a week hurt my progress?

Thanks Blake!



Hi Nick,

Thanks for the question. I’m glad you like the site layout. It was a long time coming!

Before I answer your question, let me give you a quick story about my own personal experience with compound movements. Back in 1993 I was really into the body building side of training. I’d do splits, double splits, specialty movements and all types of routines designed to target specific muscle groups. I was spending about two hours in the gym and things were going well until all of a sudden, things just stopped. I think one of the reasons was because I started a new job working at a steel plant that had me doing 12 hour shifts. I’d get to work at 8PM and I’d leave at 8 AM. I’d come home, have a quick bite and I’d sleep for about 10 hours. Believe me; working at a steel stamping plant is hard work and my body went into instant overdrive.

I’d get up at about 5 PM and after taking a shower and eating, it was time to go back to work for 8 PM. The last thing I wanted to do was give up training. So, I set my alarm to get up at 3:30 PM and I’d go and train at 5:00 PM until about 6:30 – 7:00 PM. After about a week of this, I had to give it up. I just couldn’t allocate an hour and a half to my body building routine and keep my energy levels up for work.

I needed a routine that would allow me to keep gaining while cutting down on time spent in the gym. After conducting some research I came across an article and routine by Bill Starr (strength training legend). Mr. Starr’s approach to training was like night and day to what I was accustomed to. Bill preached using only compound movements to build strength, power and muscle mass. He was adamant against using any type of isolation exercise or any type of compound exercise derivative that would take away from developing compound movement strength.

At first, this seemed strange to me, especially since I was on my body building kick and doing set after set of isolation exercises and other compound movement derivatives. After reading his article, he made quite an impression. I started questioning my body building practices and started to really give his ideas some serious thought. I remember thinking to myself, "was it possible to spend 45 minutes in the gym and double my strength and muscle gains?" Well, there was only one way to find out. The routine was called the Strength Factor Routine and it went something like this:

Monday (Heavy Day)

  • Back Squats 5 x 5 ramping to limit
  • Bench Press 5 x 5 ramping to limit
  • Deadlifts 5 x 5 ramping to limit or Bent-Over Rows: 5 x 5 ramping to limit
  • Incline Dumbbell Press 2 x 20
  • Calf Raises 3 x 30

Wednesday (Light Day)

  • Back Squats 5 x 5 using 50 lbs. less than Monday or Lunges: 4 x 6 ramping to limit
  • Good Mornings 4 x 10 or Stiff-Leg Deadlifts: 4 x 10
  • Standing Overhead Press 5 x 5 ramping to limit
  • Dips: When you can do 20 reps, start adding weight and drop the reps back to 8
  • Curls 3 x 15

Friday (Medium Day)

  • Back Squats 5 x 5 using 20 lbs. less than Monday
  • Incline Bench Press 5 x 5 ramping to limit
  • Shrugs 5 x 5 ramping to limit or Clean High Pulls 5 x 5 ramping to limit
  • Straight Arm Pullovers 2 x 20
  • Chins: 4 sets to failure

I tried the routine and for the first two weeks and it felt strange. My body was getting accustomed to the new movements and workloads so it felt really weird. After the third week, I started to find my balance and control. After a month, I started to get strong. After two months, I started to get really strong. After three months I started getting pretty big. In fact, my co-workers started asking me how I got so big so fast. I remember my boss one time coming up to me and asking me how he could get big like I was.

Each session took about an hour which fit my schedule perfectly. After the fifth month, I modified the routine a bit and included different compound movements. I can say this with complete honesty, everything got big on my body including:

  • Front of shoulders
  • Side of shoulders
  • Back of shoulders
  • Biceps
  • Triceps
  • Calves
  • Upper legs
  • Upper back
  • Mid back
  • Glutes

If you really look at the routine, you can see that each compound movement hits all the major muscle groups including the smaller systems. Barbell bent rows hit the upper and mid back including rear shoulders and traps. Chins really hits the upper back and biceps. The bench press and incline hits the chest, front shoulders and triceps. Squats and dead lifts hit the entire body. The real beauty of this routine is the rest and recovery periods and the way it uses heavy, light and medium days.

You see, you really don't have to worry about the smaller groups not being trained. The compound movements listed above will train all the major muscle systems including the smaller groups, quite extensively.

Nick, I’m very confident that this type of routine is made for people who want to get big and strong, have limited training time and are serious. This routine is for you.

I suggest giving this routine a try and monitor your progress. I’m confident it’ll do wonders for you.

I don't think jogging will hurt your progress. In fact, it may help. As long as you keep the weight training a priority you should be fine.

The latest news from Building Muscle 101

Delicious easy to make power oatmeal recipe!

I hope this helps,


As the owner of Building Muscle 101, I am committed to providing you the best practical weight training advice. I've been training for over 24 years (and still train to this day!) and the advice and guidance I provide comes directly from my experience and knowledge.

Home > Tools and Resources HQ > Questions and Answers