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10 Compound Lifts for Developing Massive Strength

Building a solid base of “strength” throughout the body has many benefits for the bodybuilder, sportsman and even casual lifter. The ability to be able to handle heavier weights, especially in compound lifts, will eventually translate into increased muscle mass, improved performance on the field and even a better quality of life. While isolation movements certainly have their place, they cannot compare to multi-joint exercises simply because these generally require more balance/coordination, allow for the use of greater poundage, involve multiple muscle groups, and work the body in a more “functional” manner. The following is a list of 10 of my personal favorite strength-building movements, along with a quick tip to make sure you will get the most out of every rep!

Bench Press

Focus: Chest; Anterior Deltoids; Triceps

Tip: Keep the ribcage high, the lower back arched, and the shoulders down and back for maximal pectoral recruitment.


Focus: Chest; Anterior Deltoids; Triceps

Tip: To focus more on the chest, keep the torso leaned forward about 45 degrees throughout the set. For more triceps recruitment, keep torso straight.


Focus: Thighs; Hamstrings; Lower Back; Traps; Forearms

Tip: Rather than rebounding the bar off the floor or rack pins on each rep, come to a dead stop instead, which will remove momentum and force more muscular action.


Focus: Thighs; Hamstrings; Glutes

Tip: Make sure to keep your head up, lower back slightly arched, and the bar set on the upper traps as you squat slowly to a position where the thighs drop just below parallel to the ground.

Bench Step Ups

Focus: Thighs; Hamstrings; Calves

Tip: Make sure the working foot is entirely on the bench and stable before every rep. Additionally, avoid “pushing” off with the back leg, and use only the power of the working leg to lift you upwards.

Bent Row

Focus: Lats; Traps; Rhomboids; Lower Back

Tip: Keep the knees slightly bent to help support the low back. Bend the torso at about an 80-degree angle. Pull the bar to the belly button to activate the lats to a greater degree, and closer to the chest to hit more of the mid/upper back musculature.

Pull Up

Focus: Lats; Traps; Rhomboids

Tip: Change the width of your grip workout to workout to stimulate different parts of the back. In addition, experiment pulling to the upper, mid and/or lower chest for even greater variation.

Military Press

Focus: Anterior Deltoids; Upper Pectorals; Triceps

Tip: Those who wish to focus on building total body strength should perform this movement while standing at least every other workout. Make sure not to lean back too far or this exercise will become more of an “incline” press than a military press.

BB Shrug

Focus: Traps; Forearms

Tip: Done with a BB, machine or DB’s this is an excellent movement for building “holding power/strength.” If you want to emphasize the forearms, do this movement without the use of lifting straps. However, if you want enormous traps, then make use of straps so that you can focus purely on shrugging big poundage.

CG Bench Press

Focus: Triceps; Anterior Delts; Pectorals

Tip: Along with Dips, I feel this is the very best exercise for building strong and thick triceps. They can be done with a free bar or Smith Machine, both of which have their advantages. Use a grip set about 6-8 inches apart and lower the bar to about nipple level.

Eric “Merlin” Broser -CEO B Built International -Natural Professional Bodybuilder/Judge/Advisory Board Member -Creator of the PRRS, FDFS and O-Bey-6 Training Systems



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