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Exploring the Best Compound Movements (that are Not the Big 3) for Muscle and Strength Gain

Hey Angels and Alphas,

When it comes to building muscle and strength, compound movements are the bread and butter of any effective weightlifting program.

While the bench press, squat, and deadlift are renowned as the kingpins of compound exercises, there are several other movements that deserve recognition for their ability to promote significant gains in both muscle mass and strength.

In this article, we will delve into some of the best compound movements, aside from the traditional big three, that can take your training to the next level.

Ultimately, we aim to answer the question: what are the best compound exercises, aside from the big three, to help you achieve strength and muscle gains?

Overhead Press

The overhead press, also known as the military press, is an exceptional compound movement for targeting the shoulders, triceps, and upper chest. It involves pressing a weighted barbell or dumbbells overhead while standing or seated.

This exercise not only enhances upper body strength and muscle development but also engages the stabilizer muscles in the core and lower body. The overhead press is highly effective in building well-rounded upper-body strength and aesthetics.

Pull-Ups and Chin-Ups

Pull-ups and chin-ups are exceptional compound movements that primarily target the muscles of the back, including the lats, rhomboids, and biceps.

These exercises involve suspending yourself from an overhead bar and pulling your body up until your chin clears the bar (pull-up) or pulling your body up until your chin comes above your hands (chin-up). Pull-ups and chin-ups are incredibly effective for building upper body strength and developing a wide, muscular back.

Barbell Rows

Barbell rows are an excellent compound movement for targeting the muscles of the upper back, including the lats, rhomboids, and rear delts. This exercise involves bending over at the waist with a barbell in hand and pulling it towards your torso while keeping your back straight.

Barbell rows not only contribute to back strength and muscle development but also help improve posture and stability. They are a key movement for creating a balanced and powerful upper body.

Weighted Dips

Weighted dips are a compound exercise that primarily targets the chest, triceps, and shoulders. This movement involves suspending yourself between parallel bars and lowering your body until your upper arms are parallel to the floor, then pressing back up.

Weighted dips provide a challenging stimulus for the upper body muscles and promote strength and size gains in the chest and triceps. They can be an excellent addition to your routine, especially if you’re looking to develop a strong and well-defined upper body.

Romanian Deadlift

While the conventional deadlift is a well-known compound movement, the Romanian deadlift (RDL) is a variation that places a greater emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes. The RDL involves holding a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs and hinging at the hips while maintaining a slight bend in the knees.

This exercise targets the posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Incorporating RDLs into your training routine can help build strength, stability, and muscle development in the posterior chain, ultimately enhancing overall athletic performance.


Lunges are a compound movement that primarily targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. They also engage the stabilizing muscles of the core and lower body.

Lunges involve taking a step forward or backward and lowering your body until both knees are bent at 90-degree angles, then pushing back up to the starting position.

Lunges are an excellent exercise for developing lower body strength, balance, and muscular endurance. Adding weight, such as dumbbells or a barbell, can further intensify the exercise and stimulate muscle growth.


While the bench press, squat, and deadlift are undoubtedly essential compound movements, incorporating other exercises into your weightlifting routine can enhance muscle and strength gains.

The overhead press, pull-ups and chin-ups, barbell rows, weighted dips, Romanian deadlifts, and lunges are excellent choices that target different muscle groups, promote functional strength, and contribute to a well-rounded physique.

Experiment with these movements and find the ones that best suit your goals and preferences, and watch your progress soar!

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