If you are looking to maximize your time  and target more muscles, then compound exercises in the gym are the way to go about it.

They will put more demand on the body because they require activating more than one joint in the movement and in turn recruit more muscle groups.

If you are short on time then you can use machines with weight selection by pin. The machines are usually quick to adjust and save you time by not having to load and unload a barbell (with some exercises).   But if you want to increase the intensity of these exercises, you can execute most of them in a free motion capacity.  This will cause the body to recruit the stabilizing muscles to help support the execution of the exercise.

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The following exercises will help you understand better about the concept of compound execution:

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

This exercise can be executed in either a seated or standing position.  With a dumbbell in each hand, place your hands at shoulder level with the palms facing forward.  Next, press the dumbbells up over your head and exhale, extend the arms, but do not lock out the elbows.  Next, return to your starting position and repeat the motion again for the desired number of repetitions.

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Dumbbell Lunges

This exercise should be executed in a standing position.  With a dumbbell in each hand, turn your palms so that they face inward on either side of your body.  Next step with one leg “lunging” forward and inhale, once you place your forward foot down, bend the back knee first before bending the front knee.  Note- you do not want your front knee to extend over the toes of your front foot.  Now return to your starting position while exhaling, and then execute the movement again with the opposite leg, and repeat the alternating motion for the desired number of repetitions.

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Wide Grip Lat Pull Down

This exercise should be executed in a seated position and will be a machine based exercise.  First, adjust the seat so that while seated your arms are in an extended position when you grab the pull down bar with your hands positioned slightly wider than shoulder width.  Once you have established those adjustments, select the appropriate weight on the weight stack.

Now in a seated position with your hands set appropriately on the pull down bar, start to retract your shoulder blades and roll your shoulders back, exhale, bend your elbows and pull the bar down towards your chest while tilting your torso back slightly.  Stop the motion a couple of inches before you touch your chest, then return to the starting position while inhaling,  and repeat the motion again for the desired number of repetitions.

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Barbell Squat

This exercise will be executed in a standing position.   You will load the barbell onto what I call the “shelf of the shoulders”, which is across the trapezius muscles and not resting up against the cervical area of the neck.  Next assume a shoulders width position with your legs and feet.  Now with your chest up and looking straight ahead, push your hips back before you start to bend your knees and descend towards the floor.

You will be inhaling at this point, stop your descent when you hit a ninety degree angle with your upper and lower legs.  Now ascend by pushing through the heels and exhale while you return to the starting position, and repeat the motion again for the desired number of repetitions.

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Chin Ups

This exercise will be executed in a standing position.  You will need to use a pull up bar and it should be high enough off of the ground so that when you execute the chin up your feet will not touch the ground when your legs are in an extended position.

Next, turn your palms so that they are facing you.  Jump up or if you need to, use a step and grab the bar with both hands.  Now with your arms extended curl yourself up and exhale, then place your chin up and over the bar.  Now take your chin back over the bar, extended your arms and inhale while you descend to the starting position, and repeat the motion again for the desired number of repetitions.

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Abdominal Bicycle

This exercise will be executed while on the floor, on your back and facing up.  Place your hands by your ears, now bring one knee in towards your chest and cross touch it with the opposite elbow, you will want to lift the shoulder up off of the floor during this motion.  Now alternate cross touching with the other elbow to the other knee.  You can just breathe normally, but keep breathing throughout!  Repeat the motion again for the desired number of repetitions.

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Here is a sample workout:

1.Wide Grip Pull Downs
2. Bent Over Barbell Rows
3. Chin Ups
4. Abdominal Bicycles

You can perform each exercise with the straight set or circuit approach.  You can aim for four sets for each exercise and ten to twelve repetitions for each set!   Add this to your training regiment and compare it to single joint exercises, you will definitely notice the difference!

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