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Compound exercises that work several muscles at once are an excellent way to stay in shape because they mimic movements that people perform in everyday life. Building strength in these motions helps ensure effective functioning for the future.

The right compound exercises can achieve a full-body workout in less time than focusing on specific muscles individually. They often keep the heart rate up, too, offering more cardiovascular benefits for a well-rounded fitness experience.

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Pushups

The classic pushup builds both upper body and core strength.

The abdominal muscles hold the body stable, so this exercise strengthens the rectus abdominis and obliques. The deltoids, pectoral muscles, triceps and biceps, and erector spinae in the upper body all work to bring the torso down and up. The National Library of Medicine recommends doing 12 to 15 pushups per workout.

There are lots of modifications for people who are working toward a "full" pushup or have to adjust their workout for other reasons. Pushing up from the knees rather than the toes takes much of the core work out of the exercise and focuses on the arms. For more similar benefits to a full pushup, try an incline pushup. Lean forward onto a bench or the wall and push up and down from this angle instead.

woman doing push ups from her couch
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Squats

Squats build lower body strength by using the quadriceps and glutes. They also increase the stability and strength of the trunk and upper body. Most professional athletes include squats in their strength training programs.

Beginners can do a partial squat until they feel comfortable with the full squat. It is important to use caution with this exercise, as it can injure the knees if done improperly. Using a wider stance can decrease the stress on the knees. Make sure the knees are going out over the toes, not falling in or out.

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.