Compound Exercises vs Isolation Exercises

man working out

Compound and isolation exercises are two different types of muscle building exercise which both have their own individual merits when it comes to building muscle. In this article I’m going to be taking a deeper look at the difference between compound and isolation exercises and discussing how to best use them both to maximize your muscle growth.

What Are Compound Exercises?

Compound exercises are a type of lift that involves multiple joints and muscles. Since they utilize multiple muscles, they’re great for building overall muscle size and strength, as the combined efforts of all these muscles allows you to lift heavier weights. They’re also a very efficient exercise because they allow you to work multiple muscle groups in a single movement. I’ve listed three of the most popular compound exercises below:

1) Chest Press:

The chest press is a compound exercise that works your chest, triceps and shoulders. It can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells or on a chest press machine and involves pressing weights above your chest.

2) Shoulder Press:

The shoulder press is a compound exercise that targets your upper back, biceps, shoulders, triceps and core muscles. It can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells or on a shoulder press machine and involves pressing weights above your shoulders.

3) Squat:

The squat is a compound exercise that works all the muscles in your lower body along with your core muscles. It can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells and involves squatting down and back up again while holding weights by your waist or on your shoulders.

What Are Isolation Exercises?

Isolation exercises are a type of lift that focuses on a single joint and muscle group. Since they target one muscle group at a time, they’re a great way to focus your muscle building efforts and work specific body parts. They’re also perfect for strengthening any weak body parts that let you down during compound exercises. I’ve listed three of the most common isolation exercises below:

bicep curl workout

1) Bicep Curl:

The bicep curl is an isolation exercise that fully focuses on your biceps. It can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells or with a cable machine and involves curling a weight towards your chest by squeezing your biceps.

2) Tricep Extension:

The tricep extension is an isolation exercises that targets your triceps. It can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells or with a cable machine and involves pressing a weight by extending your triceps.

3) Wrist Curl:

The wrist curl is an isolation exercise that targets your forearms. It can be performed with a barbell, dumbbells or with a cable machine and involves curling a weight with your forearms.

How To Get The Most Out Of Compound & Isolation Exercises

To get the most out of compound and isolation exercises, base your workouts around compound movements and then finish with isolation exercises. Doing this allows you to perform at your peak during the compound movements and work multiple muscle groups with maximum intensity. Then once you start to tire, the isolation exercises allow you to focus on specific muscle groups and work them till failure.

Summary

I hope this article has given you a better understanding of the differences between compound and isolation exercises and outlined how they can both help you achieve your strength and muscle building goals. So if you’re not currently incorporating compound and isolation exercises into your workout routine, start making some changes today and enhance your muscle building efforts.

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