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  • Writer's pictureChris

Compound Vs Isolated Exercises

When lifting weights at the gym, there are two main modes of exercise. First is isolated exercise and the second is compound exercise. They both have their benefits and drawback and I want to share those traits with you.

Isolated exercises are exercises working strictly on one muscle area such as a leg curl focusing primarily on the hamstring or triceps pushdown for the triceps. These types of exercises work at one joint, emphasizing the muscles moving that joint. Working in this manner allows for “attention to detail” for the muscle if there is an imbalance or you are bodybuilding. The most useful time for isolation exercises is during rehabilitation or corrective exercise when rebalancing weak and tight or elongated and taut muscles is the focus. The drawback to isolation exercise is it is treating your body which is one harmonious machine as isolated parts, that's not how your body wants to perform and movement deficiencies may arise from muscle isolation exercises if you are not balancing your routine.

Compound or multijoint exercises are just that, exercises working multiple joints at the same time. Examples of these are the squat for the glutes, quads, and hamstrings or bench press for the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Compound exercises have a couple of benefits over isolated exercises. First, it is the primary method of muscle-mass gains, and second, it is the way our body moves in everyday life or functional training as it is commonly referred. Compound movements are more natural, your body moves in movement patterns, not isolated motions.

As mentioned earlier, unless there is a muscle imbalance or area prone to muscle imbalance, compound exercises are typically the way to go. The drawback to compound exercises is just that, they do not take into account movement disfunctions and may irritated them or make them worse. If something is hurting, stop and speak with a medical doctor or physical therapist to see if you have a movement dysfunction then work with a corrective exercise specialist or specialist in exercise therapy (I meet those qualifications) to fix the disfunction.

Compound Exercises Increase Strength Quicker than Isolation Exercises

Always improve,


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