Think you don't have time to start a strength-training routine that builds muscle, tones your whole body, improves your coordination and balance, and even challenges your brain? Think again: with compound exercises, it's possible to squeeze in a workout that does all that within 30 minutes.

What are compound exercises? These double-duty moves combine two (or more) exercises in one, firing up multiple major muscle groups at the same time. Doing compound exercises allows you to maximise your workout time while still resulting in real gains. As few as six compound moves done in combination can hit all your major muscle groups.

In addition to strengthening your entire body, this list of compound exercises requires coordination and balance. Improving your balance will help you with daily activities like standing on your tiptoes to reach something on the top shelf, going up and down the stairs, or walking on an uneven sidewalk without tripping.

For this compound exercise routine, you'll need a mat and a set of hand weights. Your dumbbells can be as light as one kilo, and as heavy as 7-10kgs, depending your ability level. You could even do this workout without weights if you're a beginner and want to ease into strength training.

If you don’t get these perfect on the first time, that's okay! Training your brain is just as important as training your body, and sometimes it takes more than once to nail tricky moves like these compound exercises. So have fun, laugh, and breathe. Aim to do the whole series straight through two times.

Chest Press With Double Leg Press

double duty exercises

  1. Lying on your back, bring your arms in at your sides in an “L” position and glue your legs together in table top.
  2. Push your arms up to the ceiling for a chest press while pushing your legs out straight at the same time, then return to your start position.
  3. Repeat 10-12 times.

Walking Arms and Legs

double duty exercises

  1. To start, bend one leg into the body and reach the other out long. Keep the arm by your bent leg out to the side, and bring the opposite arm up straight.
  2. Switch from side to side, just as if you were standing and skipping, except you're on your back engaging your core as well.
  3. Repeat 10-12 times. To work your core even more, lift your head, neck, and shoulders.

Pelvic Bridge With Hug a Tree

double duty exercises

  1. Lying on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, hug your arms up over your chest. Make sure your hands are above your sternum and not your face.
  2. Lift your backside up as you reach your arms out to the sides of your body with your palms facing up.
  3. Repeat 10-12 times. For an added challenge, keep your backside from completely lowering down to the mat and hover just above it until you finish all of your reps.

Serving Arms With Leg Extension

double duty exercises

  1. Stand up tall and hold your weights in at your sides with your arms bent and palms facing up. Lift one leg and glue that foot to your ankle or knee, finding your balance.
  2. Serve your arms out straight while extending your lifted leg in front of you.
  3. Bend your arms and leg back in to your start position, and repeat 10-12 times on each leg.

Tiptoe Lunge With Overhead Press

double duty exercises

  1. Bring one leg in front of the other, keeping the legs in parallel. Raise your arms in a goal post position and lift your heels up, finding your balance.
  2. Bend your knees into lunge position, and press your arms up overhead at the same time.
  3. Rise back up to lifted heels, and repeat 10-12 times on each side. Keep your heels as high as you can the whole time.

Single Leg Rotation With Palms Up and Down

double duty exercises

  1. Stand tall with your arms out to the sides and palms facing up. Lift one leg out in front of you.
  2. Keeping your hips squared to the front, twist your spine and turn your palms down.
  3. Rotate back to the front, turning your palms back up and keeping your balance.
  4. Repeat 10-12 times on each side.