Multiple-joint strength-training exercises save you workout time and show greater strength improvements as you use heavier amounts of weight. The difference between single-joint exercises such as arm curls and leg extensions and multi-joint exercises such as the bench press and squat, is the number of joints used. For example, during an arm curl, you only move your elbow. In contrast, during a bench press, your elbows and shoulders move to perform the exercise. The use of multi-joint exercises gives you a total body strengthening workout in a shorter amount of time than a single-joint routine.
Warm up before you strength train with full-body movements such as jumping rope, jogging, cycling, or using the elliptical trainer.
Select eight to 10 upper-body, multi-joint exercises. Include the shoulder press, bench press, lat pull-down, seated row, bent-over row, chin-ups and triceps dips. Use a combination of bodyweight, weight machine and free weight exercises to provide workout variety and muscle stimulation.
Select three to four lower-body, multi-joint exercises. Use exercises such as the squat, leg press, lunge, sumo squat, step-ups, kettlebell swings and squat jumps. Provide workout variety, and avoid overuse injuries when you include a selection of exercises that use your bodyweight, weight machines and free weights.
Perform one to three sets of eight to 12 repetitions on each of your multi-joint exercises. Rest for 60 seconds between sets. Select a weight amount that creates muscular fatigue during the final two repetitions of each set.
Perform your exercises using a full range of motion. Breathe normally as you train. Use a slow and controlled pace, such as two seconds to do the exercise and three to four seconds to release from the exercise.
Complete your workout two or three days a week with at least one day of rest between sessions.
Tips & Warnings
- Organize your workout routine by replacing your single-joint exercises with multi-joint exercises that concentrate on your targeted muscle group. For example, replace arm curls with chin-ups to strengthen your biceps along with your back.
- Speak with your doctor before you begin a resistance-training program. The use of multi-joint exercises requires a longer learning curve than single-joint exercises, but consider the time you save after your body adjusts to the new exercises.
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