How to lose weight fast: 5 compound exercises you can start right now

The arrival of summer is the perfect time to get into shape. Compound exercises using multiple muscles are a great way to lose weight fast.

The arrival of summer means longer days and better weather – the perfect time to get into shape. As we age, our body’s metabolism can slow down, meaning we have to move more to maintain our ideal weight. Aging is also associated with muscle loss, which can limit our activities and leave us prone to falls. Luckily, exercise can help. The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise per week to achieve its numerous health benefits including preventing disease, improving sleep, boosting strength and maintaining a healthy weight. Compound exercise, which engages multiple muscle groups at once, is one of the most effective ways to lose weight fast.

What are compound exercises?

Different types of exercises work out a different combination of muscles. Isolation exercises work a single muscle group. For example, a bicep curl specifically strengthens the bicep muscles. Compound exercises engage multiple muscle groups at once, for example lunges target the legs and glutes. You can also combine isolation and compound exercises to use even more muscles, like performing a lunge with a bicep curl simultaneously.

Compound exercises are one of the best workouts because they use twice the muscles in half the time. If you’re short on time in the gym, performing compound exercises will build muscle, burn calories for weight loss, and increase strength quickly.

The health benefits of compound exercises are numerous and include:

  • Burns calories quickly
  • Improves intramuscular coordination
  • Better flexibility
  • Builds strength
  • Elevates heartrate
  • Boosts muscle mass [1].

So what are some quick and easy compound exercises to get you started?

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Lose weight with floor exercises

As the name suggests, floor exercises require minimal equipment and mostly make use of the floor. This means that with access to enough floor space and armed with a gym mat, you can perform floor exercises almost anywhere – in the gym, the park or at home. Floor exercises burn fat and build a variety of different muscles, most usually the legs, glutes and abdominal muscles:

  • Squats work your glute and leg muscles. Adding a jump after completing each one will bring an additional cardio element.
  • Lunges. Similarly to squats, these engage the glutes and leg muscles. Lunges are highly adaptable, and can be combined with other movements like twist lunges, walking lunges, or elevated lunges using a step.
  • Planks. Everyone knows the pain of planking from gym class. This particularly brutal floor exercise is a great ab workout. Adding a twist by alternatively raising each arm above your head into a twist plank also engages your shoulder muscles.

Weight exercises for losing weight

Adding weights to your floor exercise routine can engage more muscles, burning more calories and fat. Adding a barbell loaded with the weight you’re comfortable with transforms a simple squat into a rather intimidating sounding deadlift, engaging arm, glute, leg, core and back muscles. Use hand weights to add a bicep curl when performing reverse lunges works your arms as well as legs. Holding a kettlebell while squatting (a variation known as a goblet squat) activates a full-body workout of your core, legs, glutes and lower back muscles.


High-intensity interval training maximises weight loss while minimising the time spent at the gym. For the bravest of gym-goers, HIIT involves a variety of exercises condensed into one short but intense session lasting 10-30 minutes maximum. This full body workout is thought to produce twice the health benefits as moderate-intensity exercise, burning calories, speeding up metabolism, losing fat and building muscle [2]. HIIT routines can be personalised to your fitness level and varied to keep it interesting, but its intensity remains the same. If you can survive for that long, a typical 30-minute HIIT session would look like this:

  • One minute of walking lunges
  • One minute of burpees
  • Followed by a one-minute rest period. Repeat this four times
  • Five-minute break
  • One minute of push ups or kneeling push ups for beginners
  • One minute sprint, or high knees if you’re short on space
  • One minute rest. Repeat four times.

Uphill run

Walking, or running, uphill is a cardio workout that also engages the glute, leg and hip muscles. It is beneficial to cardiovascular health, losing weight and building muscle. Being outside in the fresh air also makes hill walking hypothetically more enjoyable than a sweaty gym session. Add a slight incline to your walk by scaling a small hill, mountain or even the Stairmaster at your local gym. The added benefits of hill walking over walking on flat is that it engages more muscles throughout the lower body, known as the posterior chain. By forcing your body weight onto your forefoot, it tones these muscles. The higher the incline, the bigger the workout. Hill walking also engages your abs to stabilise your body so is a great core exercise.

Walking, or running, uphill is a cardio workout that also engages the glute, leg and hip muscles.


Swimming is a combination of both cardio and strength workouts, as your body pushes against the resistance of the water. This makes it an excellent full body workout that burns calories and builds strength, particularly in your arm and shoulder muscles. It also works out your core, back, leg and glute muscles, depending on your preferred swim style.

Swimming is a combination of both cardio and strength workouts, as your body pushes against the resistance of the water.

Swimming a variety of strokes ensures a total body workout. For example, the front crawl and backstroke mainly twists the core and oblique muscles, as well as the hip muscles when kicking. The gentler breaststroke engages pectoral muscles to sweep the arms inwards, while the glutes and quads power the breaststroke kick. The butterfly stroke is more difficult to master, but it engages the core and lower back muscles to lift the body out of the water, the glutes to perform the dolphin kick, and the pecs, shoulders, biceps and an assortment of leg muscles [3].

Aside from the local swimming pool or lido, dip your toe into outdoor wild swimming. Slightly more unpredictable than in the still waters of an indoor pool, wild swimming in safe, natural pools of water can be challenging but more rewarding.

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The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.