Compound Movements and Why You Should Do Them

Compound Movements and Why You Should Do Them

What are Compound Movements? 

What if I told you that doing compound movements in the gym burned more calories during your workout; would you know which exercises to do?  

What if I also told you that compound movements burn more calories postworkout than any other exercise, would you believe me? 

Imagine learning that this type of movement maximizes your time in the gym, helps you lose weight, and helps you burn more fat; would you do more?  

Compound Movements, also known as Compound Exercises, are multi-joint movements that work several muscle groups at one time, compared to isolation movements that work one muscle at a time.  

An example of a compound movement would be a squat. A squat works your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and core. An example of an isolation movement is a bicep curl, which only works the bicep. See the difference? One muscle versus many muscles. The more muscles you are working at one time the more calories and fat you will burn. Cool, right?  

Compound movements are not only for the gym but also can be a great home workout. You don’t necessarily need heavy weights. You just need a little bit of time and a little bit of space to get in some good compound exercises. 

Benefits of Compound Movements

One of the biggest benefits of compound movements is that they make effective use of your time. When you are short on time but want to put in a quick weighttraining workout, think compound movements. Other benefits include:  

+ more calories burned 

+ improved coordination 

+ improved flexibility and range of motion 

+ gaining more muscle  

+ improved strength

Best Compound Movements 

The following list is derived from an article by the American College of Sports Medicine. While these 7 items are personally my favorite, there are unquestionably other compound movements that might work better for you. It all depends on your level of fitness. Give them a try! 

  1. Squats 
    • Areas of Focus – quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings and core 
  2. Deadlifts 
    • Areas of Focus – almost the entire body but especially the hamstrings, glutes, arms, core, and back (trapezoids)  
  3. Bench Press 
    • Areas of Focus – chest, shoulders and triceps 
  4. Pull-ups 
    • Areas of Focus – entire back region (emphasis on lats), forearms and biceps 
  5. Bent-over barbell rows (reverse grip) 
    • Areas of Focus – back region (emphasis on upper back; rhomboids, trapezoids), and biceps 
  6. Shoulder Presses 
    • Areas of Focus – entire deltoid region: front, medial and rear (emphasis on front deltoids) 
  7. Lunges (static) 
    • Areas of Focus – entire leg region (emphasis on glutes and hamstrings) 

Combine Compound Movements with Isolation Movements

Combining both types of movement makes for a great workout. For example, a squat to a bicep curl or a squat to a bicep curl to a shoulder press.

It’s important to keep good form while performing exercises. Squatting may seem safe but when weights are added and the exercise is done improperly, it could result in injury.

Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Have an LA Fitness Pro Results® trainer help you with the basic principles of weightlifting and proper form when exercising.  

Bottom Line  

Next time you are in the gym or doing a home workout, incorporate a few compound movements. Get your heartrate up and boost your metabolism. Since compound movements engage several muscles at one time, it requires more energy from you. In turn, you burn more calories by spiking your metabolism and increasing your heart rate, which make you stronger.  

Check out this workout routine “The 2 Week Workout Finale for the Your Best Beach Body Ever!” This 2 week workout routine combines plyometrics, compound movements and integrated intervals so you can strut your stuff with confidence. For more articles like this one, subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the Living Healthy Blog.

Top 10 Positive Health and Fitness Trends for 2020

Top 10 Positive Health and Fitness Trends for 2020

Trends vs Fads

Health and fitness trends sweep the nation every year, and many of them are either a waste of time or, quite contradictory to their intention, are dangerous for your health. Not to be confused with fads, trends indicate a change in behavior that develops gradually among members of a population. Fads seem to crop up out of nowhere and are fueled with a lot of hype, but they don’t last as long. 

We’re looking into the expected trends for 2020, based on a worldwide survey by the American College of Sports Medicine. Over 6,000 participants, 60% of whom have 10+ years of experience in the health and fitness industry, have identified these items as positive trends!  

The survey did not make room for any of these items to be critically evaluated, so that’s up to you, but it does help recognize some new and emerging trends for the coming year. 

That being said, this is what you can expect to be trending in 2020: 

Wearable Tech

Wearable technology can mean a lot of things now. In the fitness industry, one of the first tracking kits came about in 2006 when Nike+ embedded a tracker inside a pair of shoes.1 It measured the things you would expect it to measure: time, distance, pace, and calories burned. You would see your stats on the, then popular, iPod Nano screen. Obviously, people loved the idea of seeing a representation of their hard work. So today, wearable tech continues to increase in popularity.  

High Intensity Interval Training

HIIT involves bursts of high intensity exercise mixed with brief periods of rest. Research has done a lot to prove the effectiveness of HIIT workouts, especially when it comes to improving cardiovascular health and even in its effectiveness in changing your body composition. In fact, in his research on the relationship between HIIT and fat loss, Stephen H. Boutcher explains that HIIT “may be more effective at reducing subcutaneous and abdominal body fat than other types of exercise.”2 

Group Training

Your cycling, Pilates, yoga, swim, and dance classes (to name a few) may see a spike in attendance this year. More people are learning about the benefits of group training! Not only do class members have the advantage of group support, motivation, and accountability, they have the benefit of a certified instructor leading the way. Your group instructor can amp up the energy to help you push harder and knows when to scale things back to give you a chance to catch your breath. You may also get instruction on correct form, so you don’t have to guess whether you’re moving in ways that are safe for your body.

Training with Free-Weights

This method of training is picking up steam. Strength training and functional training have been in the top 10 fitness trends since 2007. Training specifically with free weights, however, now holds the 4th spot in the top 10.3 This includes working out with everything from dumbbells and barbells, to medicine balls and weight plates. Working out with free weights happens to have a lot of benefits. If you’re looking to make the switch, check out our article on how to transition from machines to free weights. 

Personal Training

Because of the customization personal training provides, many people turn to it to reach their health and fitness goals. Clients get one-on-one attention, a personalized workout plan, progress tracking, and plenty of guidance and support as they move towards their goals. It’s no surprise that this one has been a top 10 trend for the last 14 years.3 

Exercise is Medicine® 

This one is a global health initiative that encourages healthcare providers to assess a patient’s physical activity, recommend treatment, and refer patients to exercise professionals.3 As this becomes more commonplace, you may start to notice your provider taking more of an interest in your fitness regimen. This is an exciting development because it further acknowledges the importance of an active lifestyle and can help patients monitor their activity in more than one place. 

Body-Weight Training

Training without (or with minimal) equipment started getting popular around 2013.3 This type of exercise focuses on what you can do using your own weight to train. This involves exercises like lunges, squats, push-ups, planks, crunches, and more. It’s inexpensive, easy on the body, and can be done almost anywhere. It’s a great segue to more involved types of exercise or to help you ease back into things if you’ve been away from the gym for a while. Body weight exercises are also a great way to warm up your muscles before you start doing your weighted reps. 

Fitness Programs for Older Adults

This is an awesome trend to see taking a foothold in the top 10 this year. Coming in at #8 is fitness for older adults! The reason we’re excited is because this trend indicates that people are living longer and remaining healthy and active longer!3 Many healthcare providers now prescribe strength training to older adults as it helps them maintain their independence and more easily perform activities of daily living. Check out our article on Strength Training for Aging Bodies to learn more about how strength training helps older adults, and to view some helpful exercises.

Health/Wellness Coaching

Health and Wellness Coaching is a behavioral approach to achieving health and fitness goals. You can sit down with a coach (one-one-one or in a small group setting) to share your unique health goals. In return, you receive guidance with goal setting, support and encouragement,3 and if you’re in a small group, a sense of community with others who share similar goals or struggles. This is a nice one to see take a place in the top 10 as it focuses more on the mental and emotional process of tackling health-related change.

Certified Fitness Professionals

Last, but not least, a quickly growing trend is in the preference of certified fitness professionals. More and more people are trusting certified professionals over those who are not. We know it’s important to our members which is why our Pro Results® Personal Trainers are all certified! We also seek expert knowledge for our blog posts and podcasts, hosting guests like Registered Dietitian Debbie James, Family Physician Dr. Bob Davari, Master Trainer Geoff Fox, Certified Psychiatrist Dr. Neel Doshi, and more.

Honorable Mentions

The following items made the top 20 and are still pretty awesome trends to see emerging (or sticking around) for 2020.  

  1. Functional Fitness Training 
  2. Yoga 
  3. Circuit Training 
  4. Exercise to Combat Childhood Obesity 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about all the up-and-coming trends! Do you plan to commit to anything on this list? Let us know in the comments below! To stay in-the-loop about our fitness and nutrition articles, subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 


  1. Rogers, Andrea. “Wearable Technology: A History.” SPLITFIT, 1 Nov. 2018, 
  2. Boutcher, Stephen H. “High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss.” Journal of Obesity, Hindawi, 24 Nov. 2010, 
  3. Thompson, Walter R. “WORLDWIDE SURVEY OF FITNESS TRENDS FOR 2020 : ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.” LWW, 9 Jan. 2020,

Fitness Changes: By Age

Fitness Changes: By Age

Our bodies manage a lot. They bear a lifetime of stress, fall into and recover from illness, battle chronic ailments, take bruises, breaks, falls, and burns, and power through long workdays on 2 hours of sleep. Our bodies take it all, and eventually, our system tells us it’s time to take it easy.  

When does the body really start to experience physical limitations, and how does our age affect our fitness endeavors? Let’s find out and talk about some ways to keep your body going strong. 

In Your 30’s

By age 30, and despite the fact that we just barely made it out of our 20’s, many of us get a head start on the “I’m getting old” complaints. Perhaps jokingly and perhaps not. According to a study on aerobic capacity in aging adults, fitness levels begin to decline 3% to 6% every decade starting around age 20.1 So, by age 30, you may technically have experienced a mild age-related change in your physical fitness, but not enough to make a noticeable difference.  

However, age is not the only factor. Our reduced physical fitness often has to do with changes to our lifestyle habits or diseases.2 As we age, we encounter life changes and assume responsibilities we never had, which can potentially lead to a lot more sedentary time. Naturally, the less active you are, the more difficult many physical activities will feel.  

That being said, Tip #1 is to take a moment to recognize any decrease in physical activity and to commit to reintroducing some of it into your life.  

From Age 40 to 69

Here, we embark on that part of our lifetime we know as “middle age.” Commonly associated with mid-life crises, hair loss, and a slowing metabolism, it’s not typically a very welcome stage. Allow us to assuage your fears.  

This study examined the performance of marathon runners ranging from the ages of 20 to 79. The results show that “no significant age-related decline in performance appears before age 55.”2 This is about halfway through your period of middle age.  

Once you hit 55, you don’t suddenly begin to struggle. The same study reveals that only a moderate decline is observable in their runners after this age. In fact, “25% of the 65- to 69-year-old runners were faster than 50% of the 20- to 54-year-old runners.”2 Even more impressive is the fact that the same percentage of 65- to 69-year-old runners began marathon training within the previous 5 years.2 This should prove that their success was not a result of a lifetime of conditioning. Despite starting their training around age 60 or later, their bodies were capable of outperforming younger runners.  

Tip #2: It’s never too late to start, so start! Need more incentive? Another study found that even untrained individuals, who had never taken up sports until after reaching the age of 50, “were able to halve their mortality risk compared with their non-active peers.”2 

Age 70 and Up

Now we enter older adulthood where our aerobic capacity declines more quickly. Most older adults will see a decline of about 20% every 10 years starting around age 70.1 Fear not, however. Even if your maximal oxygen uptake is reduced, you are still capable of improving your aerobic fitness and of improving your muscle strength, balance, and flexibility.  

For example, this study on balance training in older adults found that regular balance and strength training was capable of restoring performance to a level like that of someone 3 to 10 years younger.3  

Not to mention, the power of exercise remains highly beneficial for the body and is often prescribed to older adults. In fact, this study found that “the life expectancy of active seniors was 3.8 years longer than that of their non-active peers.2 

Tip #3: Don’t allow yourself to believe that your age means you cannot be physically active. Many of our older members are living proof that age is just a number. Check out #3 of our Workout Excuses article to see exactly what we mean. Additionally, many workouts are tailored specifically to older adults who need a safe and gradual starting point. A doctor can help you make the right activity choices if you’re looking to take up exercise but have felt unable to do so. 

For more articles like this one, click to subscribe to our newsletter and receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 


  1. Fleg, Jerome L., et al. “Accelerated Longitudinal Decline of Aerobic Capacity in Healthy Older Adults.” Circulation, 25 July 2005, 
  2. Leyk, Dieter, et al. “Physical Performance in Middle Age and Old Age: Good News for Our Sedentary and Aging Society.” Deutsches Arzteblatt International, Deutscher Arzte Verlag, Nov. 2010, 
  3. Wolfson, Leslie, et al. “Balance and Strength Training in Older Adults: Intervention Gains and Tai Chi Maintenance – Wolfson – 1996 – Journal of the American Geriatrics Society – Wiley Online Library.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111), 27 Apr. 2015, 
How to Transition from Machines to Free Weights

How to Transition from Machines to Free Weights

Machines vs Free Weights 


Machines and free weights each have their advantages. Machines are great for people who need a bit more guidance. They support your body, usually have a seat and backrest, and they guide your movement which helps you learn how a specific exercise is supposed to feel. They’re great for people who are just starting out and need the direction a machine can provide.  

Both a benefit and a drawback of machines is that, often, they will isolate a single muscle. This can be great if you’re looking for a more targeted workout, but you’ll have to do a lot more exercises on a bunch of different machines to work more than one muscle group. The strength you gain from machines is also not very functional, but this may not be a concern if your focus is on aesthetics. 

Free Weights

Free weights are great for people who are looking to exercise multiple muscle groups at once. Because different muscles come into play to stabilize the weight as you move it, you get a more complete workout from one exercise. A drawback is that you are sometimes limited by what you can lift off the rack or by your grip strength. Your legs may be ready to squat more weight, for example, but your arms may not be ready to carry those couple extra pounds.  

The strength you gain from free weights is highly functional because your muscles are allowed to move naturally. You have the benefit of engaging parts of a muscle you normally wouldn’t engage on a machine, even though you’re doing a similar exercise. 

If you’re looking to transition from machines to free weights, we’re about to tell you how. There are some important precautions and considerations that can help make the transition easier and safer. 

Free Weights Don’t Weigh the Same

This sounds a bit ridiculous. How is squatting 250-pounds on a Smith machine (assisted squat machine) not the same as squatting a 250-pound barbell? Well, the answer is in the mechanics of the machine. Machines guide your muscles through a very linear motion. Your body doesn’t have to work to stabilize the weight (to keep it from tipping more one way than the other, etc.). Because of that, you don’t need to put as much effort into moving the weight that’s connected to a machine. 

>> When you transition from machines to free weights, you need to start significantly lighter and build your way up to find your working weight.  

Master Your Form First

The thing about machines is they stick you into a certain form. It’s great if you’ve never done a particular exercise and you need to know what it should look and feel like. However, once you step away from the machine, it’s all different. Your body will want to move differently to compensate for the position of your hands and feet and where the dumbbells or barbell happen to be resting. You may also notice that you have one arm or leg that is stronger than the other and that it is doing more of the work. This can also set the weight into a different balance that your stabilizing muscles will have to make up for. 

>> When you decide to take an exercise off the machine and onto the floor, you may notice weaknesses you hadn’t noticed before. Master your form first and then gradually incorporate weights. 

Don’t Push Your Muscles to Failure

It was easier to do this with machines because the equipment was relieving you of the weight once you had done your last rep. With free weights, pushing until your muscles can do no more can be dangerous, especially if your form is compromised. It’s important to leave your body a little breathing room and to have a spotter when you plan to challenge yourself in the weight room.  

>> Pushing your muscles to failure when using free weights can be dangerous. Always give yourself enough energy to complete your last rep with perfect form. 

For more workout tips, read up on what happens when you exercise on an empty stomach. Or, find out what you should know before you work out in cold weather. To stay up to date with our content, click to subscribe to our newsletter and receive monthly highlights from the LA Fitness blog! 

Body Composition and How to Track it

Body Composition and How to Track it

Have you ever compared your body to your best friend’s body? You may wonder how your best friend is tall and thin and you are short and round, but you weigh the exact same. How can that be? How can two people, same gender, look completely different but weigh the same? That’s because humans all have different body compositions.  

What is Body Composition?

It’s best described as what bodies are made of. Human bodies are made up of varying percentages of water, fat, bone and muscle. Don’t let body composition be confused with body mass index (BMI). Body mass index is a measurement of weight-for-height.   

When you step on a scale, the number tells you how much you weigh, but it doesn’t tell you what your body is made up of. Body composition refers to everything in your body and how much you have of each component. For example, a person’s body could be composed of 36% muscle, 12% essential fat, 15% non-essential fat, 12% bone and 25% other (organs, etc.) Let’s take this breakdown and work our way up to make it easier to understand, taking the five example percentages and putting them into two groups; fat mass and fat-free mass1 

>> Fat mass refers to fat tissue in your body and fat-free mass includes everything else (like muscle, bone, fluid and organs) 

What the Scale Really Tells You

Stepping on the scale will show you one number, your weight. What you don’t see are the other numbers in your body and how they affect your body composition.  

For example, if you start an exercise program you may gain one pound of muscle and lose one pound of fat. Since your fat mass decreased and your fat-free mass increased at the same time, your body weight won’t change. See how frustrating this can be for someone who thinks they are putting in a lot of effort at the gym and eating healthy but not seeing the weight change on the scale? This is why the scale is misleading and that’s why knowing your body composition is much more useful than knowing your body weight.

How to Measure Body Composition

Track with a Tape Measure

So, what can you use to measure your body composition? The first way would be to track and measure different body parts2. Purchase a flexible tape measure and track the circumference of your waist, hips, arms, legs and chest.

If you track your measurements for a period of six months, for example, and your waist circumference decreases, it’s a sign that you are probably losing belly fat. Here’s another example: if your exercise program involves weights and your arm circumference is increasing, it’s a sign that you are probably gaining muscle in your arms. The second way to track your body composition would be to take pictures.  

Track with Images

Progress pictures are a very popular way to physically see the changes in your body over time. These pictures are typically known as ‘transformation pictures’ and can be very helpful when looking at your body composition. We often do not notice changes in our body from day to day, but we do notice changes in our body when looking at progress pictures.

There are devices that measure body composition, like a bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA). BIA sends small electrical currents through your body to see how much the body resists the current. This information is used to predict your body fat percentage3 but these devices are not always accurate.  

If you’re interested in knowing your body fat mass percentage, have an LA Fitness ProResults® Trainer help you. A ProResults® trainer can help you with basic principles of physical activity and nutrition to help you improve your body composition.  

A Quick Recap

It’s nothing new; exercise and good nutrition are critical for improving body composition. Exercise and weight training help with fat loss and increased muscle mass. Stepping on the scale will only tell you how much you weigh but there are other factors that need to be considered, like age and genetics. Before you start an exercise and nutrition program, please consult your doctor.  

What’s the bottom line? We are all different. No two people are the same, therefore, we all lose and gain (fat, muscle or both) differently. Don’t just step on the scale. The best ways to track body composition is by measuring the circumference of different body parts and taking progress pictures. Grab a notebook and write down your measurements and take your pictures at regular intervals. Give yourself patience and time to see changes.  

If you would like to learn more about Body Mass Index (BMI) and the difference between BMI and Body Composition, you can read about it here 


  1. PubMed Central. National Institutes of Health. Application of standards and models in body composition analysis. November 2015 
  2. PubMed Central. National Institutes of Health. Reference values for body composition and anthropometric measurements in athletes. May 2014
  3. PubMed Central. National Institutes of Health. Bioelectrical impedance analysis–part I: review of principles and methods. October 2004 



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