The Compound Movement Lie

| July 10, 2019 by Truth Seeker |

This is how a confused mind ruled by emotions looks like.

The first thing they tell you when you join the iron game is that you should focus on compound movements if you want to gain real muscle mass. The choice is always the same – squat, bench, deadlift, overhead press, pull-ups.  

The noobs are brainwashed into thinking that slaving to those exercises will give them some sick gains. The 5×5 marketers and their colleagues from various franchises make it their mission in life to inform you how important it is to put a heavy barbell on your back and squat with it.

“It’s the secret to growth,” they say.


Then, when you inevitably hit a plateau while following their precious routines designed for robots, they shame you for not eating enough and tell you to check yourself for ovarian cancer. Basically, whenever something isn’t working – it’s your fault. But when there are gains – it’s always the program.  

Compound movements are a scam similar to proper protein intake.

What is the problem?

Exercises cannot generate the growth promised to you by mainstream and alternative channels producing muscle wisdom. Yet the marketers have been promoting squatz&deadliftz as a major catalyzer of muscular ascension. Many manuscripts are based entirely on legends glorifying the big three.  

Do compound movements work? They do. They make you stronger, more athletic and are significantly more enjoyable than isolation madness.

However, the industry has exploited the effectiveness of those exercises to create a blue pill mentality among men trying to transform naturally. 

Here’s what they don’t want you to know: 

1. Compound movements don’t add miraculous slabs of meat to your frame in a short period of time or ever. 

We have all read comments on YouTube from people who have gained “30lbs of real muscle” 3 months after adding squats to their regime. Those claims are as real as the promises of Rippetoe. The reality is that gaining 30lbs or even 20lbs of “real muscle” in 3 months requires steroids.  

30-35lbs of meat is what a natural will gain throughout his entire lifting career. The only exception would be skinny guys who start in an underweight state. The magicians on YouTube are lying, confusing muscle with fat or both. I don’t care how devoted you are to your squatz and deadliftzThis is the truth.  

If that’s the case, why are the professors constantly digging new ways to reclaim the glory of compound lifts?  

Because the wheel has to keep spinning. The kids don’t want to hear that their dream will never manifest. We are interested in the opposite to the point where we pay for lies.  

Another reason to promote mythical exercises is the illusion of control. For many years, I used to blame myself for my lack of results. I would often conclude that the problem resides somewhere in my programming. But over the years I tried enough programs to realize that a change of rep scheme or an exercise variation are neither enough nor capable of catalyzing the actual muscle growth that I anticipated.  

Since this realization makes you powerless in terms of options, the scholars do not want you to face it. Consequently, they encourage you to keep reinventing your routine to the point where you confuse placebo with actual gains.  

Example: 

bro does regular high bar squats but fails to get the anticipated results. Then he finds one of the many sites glorifying low bar squats and switches to them while expecting to get bigger due to the wrong belief that low bar squats work more muscle mass and therefore trigger more growth than high bar squatsOne year later, the kid is still the same – provided that he hadn’t bought the bulk scam too. In that case, he would be a lard collector. 

Of course, the opposite can also happen – a low bar devotee finally realizes that he’s been doing a stupid exercise and switches to high bar expecting his quads to become similar to those of Olympic weighlifters a.k.a. roiders. It won’t happen.  

The idea that an exercise can trigger unheard of natural hypertrophy is similar to believing that you can significantly increase your success with women by tailoring your pick-up lines. Good luck.

2. Every GuRu comes with their own set of exercises. 

Gurus base their exercise selection on personal preferences, beliefs and business goals. Some guys will spam you with squats while others say that handstands are the fountain of youth. Who’s right? Both? Neither?  

Just like in marketing, they are not selling you an exercise/product but a dream.  

One guy sells you the powerlifting dream – you become obsessed with hairy men on steroids who love big barbells.  

Another guy sells you the gymnastic dream – you become obsessed with compact dudes capable of skills requiring decades of work.  

The professors always try to present their training programs as superior and more “functional” than everything else on the market. Their brainwashed disciples follow the debate without realizing that they have nothing to gain from the battle.

3. Compound movements do not make you an athlete.

Many low IQ dudes think that doing low bar squats and overeating makes them “athletic real men”. Sorry. No. You are just a fat man proficient at doing squats in a controlled environment. It takes more than a generic movement to become an athlete. 

4. Slaving to numbers.

Idiots think that something otherworldly will happen when they reach an arbitrary number.  

“Brah, when I deadlift 500lbs I will be huge,” says the dreamer.  

That’s a good way to become a slave – killing yourself in the gym for another pointless five-pound PR designed to make the Internet deities happy. In reality, you can get the same benefits (size, health) while lifting significantly lower numbers. Of course, your top end will suffer, but barbell/gym strength is heavily overrated to begin with.

5. Annoying myths

All compound movements are surrounded by stupid myths triggering hardcore placebo within the lifters: squats and deads catalyze an insane testosterone boost; dips hit your triceps like nothing in this world; drink milk and squat…etc.  

Yet in the gym, I see all kinds of people doing the prescribed exercises while looking smaller than my father who has never been in a gym in his entire life. Why? He has a big frame – an essential element determining one’s natural potential for growth.  

67 comments

  1. Kumar

    1. The dreamers don’t realize that the gurus and all their brokers will run the same cycle till they bite the dust:

    Salivate – Eat – Feel good – Shit.

    2. In the real world, they need money for that. It’s the perfect plan to suck the already brainwashed brains of the dreamers.

    3. It’s very unfortunate that the status-quo will prevail despite all your efforts (that I admire) for the world is filled with zombies on a fast racing track that don’t even have time to look at their fat asses.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      3. I agree. That’s why I wrote the chapter “The Myth Called Change” in AHS2. The inertia is too strong to overcome.

  2. mattsk1

    I have found that doing loaded carries such as farmers walks does not get me jacked and ripped like all those websites say. My grip has got stronger but my wrist and hands are still as small as I was as a freshman in high school in 96. About the only good thing that is coming from it is having a bit more confidence in helping people move with our hurting my back or sore for the next day or two. The sad part about it, is that counterparts helping out with the moving don’t lift at all and we are all lifting, carrying and raising the same boxes over our heads. What’s the point?? It goes back to genetics and how you played as a kid. Some people are stronger, some people are faster, some people have more endurance, some people can build muscle, some people have higher IQ, some people, etc…..

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Joints and bones don’t grow all that much from exercise. They do grow but it takes decades of abuse.

    2. Steve

      Change…all really is a process of change. Every regime saw itself as eternal. Slavery, feudalism, now capitalism, all are temporary. Very possibly in the future there will be no gyms, just physical productive activity that we can all do for a few hours, who knows, it is not written. Of course very bad futures are possible, human extinction is looking pretty likely, but again, nothing is certain.
      Optimism, pessimism, same coin really.

  3. Daniel

    I don’t even log numbers anymore.
    I go to the gym and superset a couple machine exercises and chase a nice pump and then leave.
    I feel great.
    I feel….free.

  4. Joe Brinker

    Hey man im curious to hear your thoughts on the difference between what you refer to as “gym strength” in a sterile environment vs i guess for lack of a better term “real world strength” you have used the comparison in several aeticles but never really elaborate on what the difference is or what you would consider strong outside of the gym. You referred to a generator once but some more examples would be interesting. Thanks keep up the good work

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Gym and real world strength overlap, but there’s a difference. The gym is a controlled environment where most variables are fairly safe – you lift a predetermined weight, grab a bar designed for human hands the same way every time and perform generic movements over and over again without technically contributing to your GDP.

      Real world strength contains more variables which are not as safe. For example, riding a bike in the gym is different than riding a bike in traffic or the mountains. One is safe and controlled. The other is more unpredictable and comes with GDP (you are actually going somewhere).

      Another example would be a deadlift – you lift a bar that’s already off the ground and designed to be grabbed. On the other hand, moving a heavy stone is less “sterile”.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      I have, but I am no longer as obsessed with muscles. I used to be very dedicated – looking for whatever it takes to make it big naturally. But as times go by, this desire went away. One day I may take steroids, but I am not set on it.

      1. Hoyos

        It’s some risk/reward that really doesn’t pan out. You still have to have the right genetics for steroids to “improve” your appearance, and they come with a host of risks, including heart issues.

        It’s cool to be “black pill” about lies, but man exercise still can be used to make yourself feel good, be more mobile and “lively” as you get older, sleep better, eat better, etc. Exercise is great. It’s the muscle uber alles that’s nonsense.

  5. Steve

    Mmm, I think the few mentioned compound moves will get you a long way towards your potential. The issue seems to be really that potential is nothing like the freaks on stage. A natural can get pleasant results but the cost in effort is high and who can say if it is worth it.
    To get to the pinnacle of potential requires a little more complexity, I would advocate block periodisation, but we are talking glacial progress for very little overall gain.
    Personally I like to do 3 compounds per session, followed by abs.
    I take my. time, about 4 mins per set. Most days I walk one hour with a 10k rucksack.

  6. Frodo Lives

    Yes balanced weight bars and machines with cams and padded seats is different than moving heavy stuff in “the real world” …

  7. shadow pinner

    what I’ve learned from your writings since 6 month ago is that you should stop being a naive coward and take that steroid so I just did it. I did 2 cycles of testosterone and yeah this shit works I’ve gained 20 lbs of muscle in 6 months and even my dad that barely looks at me is impressed!
    i haven’t had any side effects yet but even i do get side effects I wont stop cause it worth it so i plan to stay a shadow pinner at least untill my mid 30s

    1. twp

      How was you hormonal recovery after the cycles? I know bunch of people who did low doses like 400mg/wk test and 400mg/wk with some anavar and they too didn’t have any side effects. 2-3 months after the cycles they where able to keep 50-60 of what they gained and their blood test were all okay.

      Actually most of the negative effects come from retarded high doses like 500wk/test + 500wk/tren + a lot of anavar.

      1. Fatman

        Many lifters run low-dose cycles forever with no adverse effects.

        The key word there is “forever”. Once you get on steroids, especially if you’re an older guy with low T, your natural levels will most likely never recover.

        Which isn’t necessarily bad, just a question of whether you want to spend the next 30-40 years stabbing yourself in the ass. You may have to do that anyway, tho.

    2. jim

      Loser….real men don’t need to pin!!!

      And you are under 30 y/o….what a jerk!!! You can’t stop or you will end up a lot worse..:-) I’ll bet i look better than you

      1. Chris

        manual work whilst necessary if that’s the way you earn your living, and sometimes its rewarding because you create something, is never the less as equally destructive to ones body as perpetually chasing prs in the barbell basics.

  8. Ant

    Fill a man with hormones and put him through hell. Amazing what money will get us do. A monster. And a rapist?

  9. Chris

    for me dead lifts – bldl do nothing for my physique nor function.
    Despite the hype from the likes of Pavel, Rippetoe, Dan John and all the T Nation so called experts.
    I train at home in my garage, and lower body options are Squats, safety bar squats , deadlifts including TBDL, and i have an old plate loading leg ext/curl unit.
    In my opinion very few people are built for the basic barbell squat, and me at well over 6′ no dice. The SSS not bad, as one can stay more upright but the bar/yoke rolls on ones shoulders unless the weight is 300 plus.
    BLDL really hits the posterior chain, and gives my low back all kinds of knight mares. The TBDL is far better, centers the weight, and enables reasonable quad stimulation, but the limiting factor is the upper body.
    Ive pulled 200 kg plus on all forms of DL and squatted 120 -140k for reps.
    Legs grow – fractionally.
    Alternatively ill just do high rep leg exts and leg curls, some hypers and high rep body weight squats and my legs looked better and my knees felt healthier. Threw in some rack pulls once every 2-3 weeks for ego, and the belief they would retain my awesome power – lol
    Guess what – day to day function improved ?

    Note – some of the authors points in the last post do bear some merit.
    Going full Nubret or Gironda probably aint on the cards for most, but the Danny Padilla type 3 day a week format is more than doable, particularly for older lifters with a busy life.

  10. Wolf

    I was thinking about joining a gym nearby that caters to power lifters because I was under the impression that’s how you build serious muscle and bulk. I’ve never seen so many squat racks and bench presses in a gym before. However the gym is absolutely filthy, overpriced and it smells. After reading this and some of your other writings I’m probably just going to join one of the cleaner gyms with less racks.

  11. Zagor

    Gym strength obviously transfers to real life. Lifting a barbell is not the same as lifting a piece of furniture, but it stands to reason that a guy with a 405 deadlift will have an easier time lifting a couch than a guy deadlifting 225.

    1. Brett

      Not really because most couches don’t require the lifter to be able to deadlift more than their own bodweight to be lifted.

      So its irrellivent if you can deadlift 3x your bodyweight or 2x.

      1. mattsk1

        Then Loaded carries have more carry over for moving furniture since that is exactly what a loaded carry is.

      2. zagor

        No because if you have higher maximal strength, submaximal loads like lifting a couch will be (percieved as) even easier.

  12. Robert Johnston

    Let me tell ya’s something for nothing. You need to lighten up man. And seriously, for us folk that aren’t bitter and twisted ’cause we don’t have the genetics to be Mr. Olympia but still get benefits from lifting weights, compound exercises are ya best choice. Sure M.rippetoe is a big bag of wind, but he has some good points, like you do Mr author. In fact, I reckon you have a lot in common.

  13. jim

    What about these 50 year old guys that are now promoting “How to Increase Your Test.”?
    They too look like they are on HRT? All the pic;’s they show are guys clearly on HRT.

    This **** never ends.

    I am super proud of my physique. Lean, muscular, rel, strong, fit. It is a huge ego lift when a young women gives me the double take…More so now at 50 than I did in my 20’s. I wouldn’t want to have any more muscle. I never seen the fascination with P.E.D. B.Bers types.

    I lift 5 min’s a day, walk a lot…watch what i eat and drink. Presto. Done

      1. JIM

        Once a day…
        1) Rack Pull (200-240kg) and bicep holds (60kg+)
        2) Shoulder press (70-80kg) and forearm curls
        3) Partial bench (170kg-180kg)

        Repeat…
        5-8 min;’s tops.

        These are partial static holds..not full range of motion exercises…Pesto. But you know what? I am not even sure i have to do this…90% is genetic.

        I am also very lean..i do 48 hour fasts quite often. A lot of walking. do not each junk.

        I take NO supplements. I should take a multi vitamin I feel but haven’t done so for months now..

        My take on all this:
        40% genetics
        40% Diet/lifestyle
        20% Lifting
        99% B*S*
        I could be wrong though..

          1. JIM

            No. 1 of the big moves each day
            Mon -Friday.
            Monday i might do a rack pull and say bicep hold
            Tuesday: Partial shoulder pres and forearm curls.
            Wed: Partial bench and maybe some sqauts
            Repeat….some weeks i might do 2X others only 1x

            I came to belief in my time:
            1) You do not need to do much. 80% is diet and genetics. we can only do so much.Time spent does not equal bigger muscles.
            2) You need to progress to a level then simply maintain. After 5 years doing this i am at my upper level now.
            3) Don’t waste your time chasing stupid exercises, new systems.
            4) Diet/Genes, Lifestyle is a LOT more important. I see people taking PED’s or wasting so much time “working out” they are lost.
            5) PT’s….are trying to make it a lot more complicated than it really is….but that is the same for most professions. When the public pay they want “Extra juice” not reality.

            Want to lose fat? Stop eating..simple. No need for fancy diets.

            Like i say….It’s very little time. But it’s heavy.

            Is it ideal? Maybe not…..could i do better? Maybe…it work great for me. I could never go back to 2 hours+ gym time. In fact i could never go back in a gym.

          2. Jim

            Chris can you do a 200kg+ Rack pull?
            Get utpo 200-220kg rack pulls (not D.L’s)
            Then you’ll see some growth….
            Same with partial shoulder press. Try and get upto body weight+

            Everyone is different. Some find it very easy other find it impossible.

            Rest, diet are very important.

            As naturals are window of growth is quite slim but it is worth it. The difference between some that lifts weights and doesn’t is noticeable. Just not huge.

            In my opinion being lean/ fit is better than being big.

            Most people are filling a void with lifting/exercise. Stress, boredom, lacking something. Recognise this and do other things. Beyond the very basics it is not worth chasing

      1. Chris

        Hi Jim,

        thanks for the response. I have done something similar , but far less frequency. I.E heavy strong range statics and partials on a push pull legs rotation, one grouping every 21 says. Yes 3 weeks before going back to the same exercise.
        Similar loads to what you are using now.
        God knows why i went back to full range – lol
        Whilst your doing great, i would suggest you drop to once a week or less, and add a little cardio.

      1. JIM

        Well…..good job i am married and would not cheat then. I know its rare these days…Still it is flattering.
        Sadly most are not models but fat, rough looking ***’s Typical average 🙂

      2. JIM

        Bit of a jump form “Women giving me the double take” to shagging super models all weekend….
        Still, I am not interested anyway. Happily married.
        But i’d rather people look at me with admiration than disgust. Which I see a lot of.
        A lot of young obese people should be ***** ashamed of them-selves! Disgrace!

        1. Chris

          Hi Jim, only teasing, i was/am interested in your routine, and hence was trying to lure you out, that’s all.

  14. Chad

    “Of course, the opposite can also happen – a low bar devotee finally realizes that he’s been doing a stupid exercise and switches to high bar…”
    That’s funny, because I used to do high bar squats and constantly have lower back pain until I realized I was doing a stupid exercise and switched to low bar. My experience has taught me that when people are critical of low bar squats, it’s usually because they’ve made absolutely no effort whatsoever to understand the movement. Just because Mark Rippetits advocates something, doesn’t automatically make it wrong. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    1. mattsk1

      For me I got to ditch my back pain from low bar squats when I switched to front squats. That is supposed to be blasphemy to the Mark Ripptoe fanboys. Especially because it does not fit in the powerlifting circle unless your advanced and on steroids like Dan Green.

      1. John South

        Rippetoe recommends the low bar squat for his program because there is not any hamstring work other than 1×5 deadlifts every other workout.

        Performing a posterior chain dominant squat 3x a week is a good solution for the novice who needs the simplest program possible. It develops the quads and the posterior chain and together with the 1×5 deadlift, there is enough volume to make it work.

        If you do a high bar squat, you’ll probably end up quad dominant and your deadlift may stall earlier. The squat may stall due to knee pain from the resulting strength imbalance. Then these people will complain that the program doesn’t work, that “lifting heavy” doesn’t work and got them injured.

        That’s a good example of people thinking they know more than Rip when they don’t. It’s good programming.

        Good programming is always about efficiency because recovery is a limited resource.

        1. mattsk1

          1×5 Deadlift was so that you can still squat two the three times by not getting taxed from dealifts while still getting it in. Squats will stll work your hamstrings even if you do front squats. I have been doing Front Squats and my quads have not gone crazy huge and my hamstrings have not shrunk. They look the same as if I low bar squat heavy. All I have noticed about heavy low bar squats is it makes my waist bigger. Other people might see different results, but that is what I have been seeing based my 10+yrs of lifting.

          1. John South

            The hamstrings are not worked much in the squat at all.

            But bending at the waist and sitting back at least gives them a little work.

            A front squat would have them doing almost nothing.

    2. Fatman

      High bar doesn’t work for me either. They’re great for little people with short femurs who can stay upright and squat “between their knees”.

      I’m not tall, but have the femurs of a much taller person. Any squat with an appreciable weight or to appreciable depth turns into a low bar squatmorning.

      High bar squats are superior if you can do them correctly. If not, analyze what squat style works for you and do that.

  15. REAL Truth Seeker

    INSANE how much of an incel “TruthSeeker” is. After browsing the articles on this site, i have found that whoever runs this site is a woman-hater who never seems to do any actual introspection or research. Also, the lack of knowledge in basic scientific principles of training, which have been thoroughly studied by independent researchers, is mind-blowing. Why do you run this site? All of these articles are speculation and opinion with very few instances citing sources. The author seems to be a sad person who just doesn’t like to work out and is trying to tell others that healthy habits aren’t worth it. Finally, as mentioned previously, the author clearly has a strong disdain for women for rejecting his or her advances? The point of being a “nice guy” isn’t so that women will sleep with you, its so that you are a good fucking person. What is wrong with you?? Just be a better person. Also, stop writing shit articles that show your lack of understanding of how the world works.

  16. Billy

    I have noticed a strange phenomena that I was hoping you could comment on:

    I haven’t done any whole body lifting for about a year, and yet I don’t seem to have lost any of the muscle I had previously built.

    However, I have been doing high rep, dumbbell curls almost daily and doing them has added about 1/3 of an inch to my arms. What is strange though is that when I stop doing the curls, my biceps deflate to their “natural” state in a about a week.

    Have you heard of stories similar to this? Is this suggestive that high frequency programs may in fact be effective in adding muscle but for some reason this muscle is impermanent?

  17. bigstooler

    There is nothing unusual about this. It is simply edema caused by inflamation from not letting your muscle tissue recover. It is water retention not muscle growth, which is why it disapears when you stop working out.

  18. jim

    Billy: When you lift weights they pump with blood. They swell to a degree. It’s “the pump” which i hear can make your muscles upto 50% bigger than they are rested.
    Some dicks chase this pump all day long in the gym.
    It’s not actual real muscle growth though.

    Like someone said to me….going to the gym and lifting actually only enhances what you have. And hormones will dictate your muscle size.

  19. John South

    If you gained 30lbs of muscle in your lifting career, you did ok, you didn’t get ripped off.

    It’s too hard to do some basic exercises for an hour a day, three times a week?

    I’m not seeing a whole lot of men who followed the powerlifting model to a 315 bench, 400lb squat and 500 deadlifts who are small. Maybe you can point one out.

    As long as you’re not shorter than like 5’6 you should be able to do it but even that hobbit, AlphaDestiny did it and he’s 5’4.

    I think people just need to be more patient and less focused on impressing females.

    Unsuccessful lifters all have something in common, they don’t progress because they’re in too much of a hurry and they tend to hurt themselves ego lifting and going for PRs too much.

    It takes 5-10 years of consistent powerlifting to get to the point where you’ll max out your natty gains.

    Nothing is going to happen in 3 months, even on steroids but a bunch of water weight that you’ll piss out in 2 weeks.

    You might gain 30lbs of actual muscle over your natty limit as a pro bodybuilder on a shit ton of juice in your entire career.

  20. WhyAreTheySoWeird

    BTW Truthseeker, have you ever thought about doing some of your older style natty or not articles where you reveal the dubious natty status of various famous athletes/celebrities? I think basically every athlete and celebrity who has any noticeable physique is on the juice these days. It’s just that all the images we are fed are from people on the juice, that this juiced up physique has now taken up the natty image in people’s minds. For example look at this photo comparing 2012 Vitor Belfort and 2017’s version. He looks completely unremarkable in the 2017 shot, yet that’s the natty one (even that is dubious as he is a pro fighter). But if you asked people, they’d think the 2012 was natty. HELL NO, he was busted for PEDs! So even the physiques within the realm of normal have been tainted with the real suspicions of juice.

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