Compound and Isolation Exercises

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Difference Between Compound & Isolation Exercises

Compound Exercises  = Multi-Joint Execises      Isolation Exercises  =  Single-Joint Exercises

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time. A great example of a compound exercise is the squat exercise, which engages many muscles in the lower body and core, including the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the calves, the gluteus, the lower back and the core.

Remember, a compound exercise is one in which multiple joints are involved. One of many other examples is a rowing exercise for back, in which both shoulder and elbow joints are initiating the movement; other examples are chest and shoulder presses.

Examples of compound exercises

Examples of compound exercises

Isolation exercises work only one muscle or muscle group and only one joint at a time (isolation exercises involve movement at only one joint). Examples are biceps curls and triceps extensions, in which only the elbow moves; lateral raises for the shoulders, in which the elbows remain stationary and only the shoulders are working; and flys for the chest, where again, only the shoulder joints move.

Examples of isolation exercises

Examples of isolation exercises

Because they involve multiple joints and call on more muscles to help move the weight, compound exercises are better for building size and strength because you’re able to lift more weight. For smaller muscle groups such as biceps and triceps, most exercises involve only one joint (the elbow in this case). You can train triceps by doing close-grip bench presses and dips, both compound movements, but you’ll find that virtually every other triceps exercise is a single-joint move.

Compound exercises are a better choice for beginners. They work a lot of muscles and are less likely to cause injury. Advanced lifters mainly do compound exercises, as well. However, they’ll supplement their basic plan with isolation exercises to develop weaker muscle groups. If your goal is massive size, this is good approach. Stick with compound exercises and add the occasional isolation movement to build up areas that need more work.

Compound Exercises

  • Work primary and secondary muscles
  • Stress high amount of fibres
  • Build muscle mass fast
  • Stimulate testosterone and HGH production
  • Save you time at the gym and give you max recovery benefits

Isolation Exercises

  • Work primary muscles only
  • Stress low amount of fibres
  • Don’t build much muscle mass, and slowly
  • Don’t stimulate anabolic hormones production
  • Take a long time to work all the muscles that you could train with a complete exercise

Some examples of isolation exercises would be:

  • Bicep curls
  • Preacher curls
  • Leg extensions
  • Calf raises
  • Triceps extensions
  • Peck Machine Fly’s
  • Lateral raises

Some examples of compound exercises would be:

  • Dumbbell or barbell bench press
  • Rows
  • Lat Pull-downs
  • Pull ups
  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Overhead Shoulder Press
  • Dips
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