If you want to know if compound exercises are better than isolation exercises for building muscle and strength, then you’ve come to the right place, keep reading…
So, what are compound and isolation exercises?
A compound exercise is an exercise that involves multiple joints and muscle groups working together at the same time. For example, a squat involves using multiple body parts at once – the knees, ankles, and hip joint which requires a coordinated effort from your body involving the – quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes bearing most of the load.
Compound exercises are great for building more muscle and gaining strength. Plus, performing these exercises will also help to speed up your metabolism. As it recruits more muscles per exercise, you will be burning more calories as you workout and having more muscle, also increases your metabolism.
Here are some of the most common compound exercises you can try…
All variations of the bench press are classed as compound exercises. The main muscle group trained in this exercise is the chest, but bench pressing also involves the muscles around the shoulders and triceps as well as your core for stability.
This exercise is also known as the military press, and it’s one of the most popular shoulder exercises you can do as it brings in other muscle groups as well – the triceps and when performed standing, the back and core.
The deadlift is the ULTIMATE compound exercise because it involves just about every joint anD muscle group in your body. It’s the most popular exercise bar far when doing compound exercises for this very reason.
The primary muscle groups used in this exercise are your hamstrings, glutes, back muscles and pretty much every other muscle to some degree. It is also the exercise that when it goes wrong, it can REALLY go wrong due to the amount of muscle and joint groups used to execute it. So, make sure you get someone to show you how to do it properly before attempting to do it.
The pull-up is a pretty simple compound exercise that is very effective in building strength and muscle. The primary muscle group is the back as a whole and the secondary muscle groups are the biceps, forearms and the core.
Whether done with a barbell, dumbbell, or machine, the row is a compound exercise that uses the back, biceps forearms and core.
Like the deadlift, the squat is another very popular, go to compound exercise as it uses the entire body to execute the exercise – this goes for all the different variations – front squat, back squat, split squat…etc
Did you know, it’s estimated that over 200 muscles are activated when doing a squat! The main muscles being – the glutes, hamstrings, calves, core, quads and man of the muscles in your back and arms.
The Leg Press is a compound exercise that requires less technical skill than that of a deadlift or squat but is still a great compound exercise to do. Similarly to the squat, the primary muscle groups used are the quads, hamstrings and glutes. The core, back and arms aren’t really used that much at all.
An isolation exercise is one that involves one main joint and muscle group. A great example of an isolation exercise is a bicep curl because the only muscle involved are the biceps that do more or less all of the work.
This is one of the few isolation exercises that should be in every fitness program; whether or not you are trying to gain muscle or not.
It’s the simplest and the best exercise for training your lateral deltoids. It’s an exercise that works well alongside the shoulder press to round out all angles of your shoulder muscles.
The front raise is a simple exercise that isolates your anterior deltoids and is well suited to be used as s super set with the lateral raise.
The leg curl is an isolation exercise specifically for the hamstrings and is one that should not be forgotten.
In many ways, the calves are like the abs. Some people are naturally gifted with having them without trying and the rest of us have to work hard just to have anything to show. The calf raise is the easiest way to isolate and work the calf muscle and should NOT be forgotten, they do still have lots of use during other exercises.
So, in summary, it really depends what you are trying to achieve and if you have any existing issues that might stop you from performing any of these exercises. However, we would advise you do a mixture of both compound and isolation exercises. Look at isolation exercises as the sugar you would add to a cake; it makes it taste better but you wouldn’t want too much of it in one go.
We hope you found this article interesting and informative.
The Fitness Focus Team.
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