The yoga tree pose is an example of an exercise that works many muscle groups.

Shorten Your Workout with These 5 Compound Exercises

Who doesn’t want a shortcut to fitness? One of the secrets of pro workouts is to incorporate exercises that work several muscle groups at once. In other words, instead of a set of exercises for abs, then one for glutes, then one for biceps, work all three at once. Called compound moves, these exercises build core strength and balance, too. Below are five of the most popular multiple-muscle workouts to try.

1. Squat and Press

Start this exercise with a 3- or 5-pound weight in each hand; if you don’t have weights you can use a water bottle. With your arms at shoulder level, bend your elbows to point down towards the floor and go into a low squat. As you stand, press weights up and straighten your arms out to the sides. Return to starting position and repeat 5 to 10 times.

2. Bear Crawl

The secret to this exercise, which uses muscles all over your body, is to use opposite arms and legs (right leg, left arm). Don’t be afraid to look funny!  Start on hands and knees, then lift up onto the balls of your feet and crawl forward, keeping your knees off the floor. Again, make sure you’re using opposite arms and legs, engaging your abs to keep your balance. Start with a ten-second crawl and increase your time weekly.

3. Bird Dog

Like the bear crawl, you’ll start this exercise on your hands and knees. Pay attention to alignment; your shoulders should be over your wrists and hips over your knees. Reach your right arm forward in line with your ear, simultaneously extending your left leg straight back. Engage your abs before starting the movement to work your core. Repeat on the other side.

4. Tree Pose

This pose looks simple, but you have to fully engage your core to keep your balance. Starting with your hands at your sides, stand on one foot, raising the other and slowly bending it to press the sole of your foot against your standing calf. (If this isn’t difficult, then raise your leg higher and rest the sole of your foot against the inner thigh of your standing leg.) At the same time, raise your arms and put your hands together at chest level in prayer position. Try to hold this position for 10 deep breaths.

5. Rotating Lunge

Step your right foot back and bend your knees to lower yourself into a back lunge. At the same time, reach your arms straight out in front of you and clasp your hands together, keeping glutes, quads, hamstrings and abs all tight. Now rotate 180 degrees to the right, lifting yourself up to pivot on the balls of your feet and leading with your right shoulder. (Keep shoulders and hips in line.) Now you’re in a lunge facing the opposite direction; rotate left back to starting position, this time leading with left shoulder. Don’t worry if you almost topple over! You want to use enough force so that your balance is challenged, then engage your abs to stabilize yourself.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.