Compound vs Isolation Exercises
Basically there are two types of exercise we do in the gym – “Compound Exercises” and the “Isolation Exercises”. What’s the difference? The difference is Compound Exercises usually involves two or more than two joints to work together in a single lift. Isolation Exercises on the other hand targets only one muscle group and moves only one joint during a workout session. Both for these exercises helps you in building lean muscle mass and helps you in dropping down the fat percentage from your body.
Basically exercises that involve more muscle groups and joints to work simultaneously are better and considered for your overall fitness goal but it does not mean you do not need isolation exercises to be in your workout schedule. Some exercises are there which are a better option for your muscle growth like the dumbbell lateral raises or the side raises are better for your middle deltoid instead of upright rows which is a compound option for your middle deltoid training.
Lets understand it in a better way ho compound and isolation exercises are different from each other with some examples.
As described above compound exercises are multi joint movements which helps everyone to develop different muscles at the same time in a single lift. If you are a gym lover, sports person or any fitness enthusiast going to any fitness center, you need to add compound exercises to your workout routine for better and faster results.
Take an example of regular “Bench Press”, it is a great exercise for you pecs but there is a multi joint movement in that lift. This lifts involves the movement of two major joints, one of them is the shoulder joint and the other one is elbow joint and it not only involves your chest muscles but your anterior deltoid and triceps muscles are also working in that particular lift, so you are hitting 3 group of muscles in a single lift. Usually everyone does it in the gym and most of the people like to perform bench press.
You have many options in the compound exercises and you can do “compound exercises with barbells” and “compound exercises with dumbbells” but if we are talking here about the bench press then performing it with dumbbells here will be more effective as you will get a more range of motion and a better symmetrical development on both sides. But the choice is up to you and there is nothing like doing it with a barbell will not help you it is just an added advantage that dumbbells give you over barbells.
Compound exercises with dumbbells have this added advantage of symmetrical developments but there an advantage of barbell is that you can add up weight according to your need but dumbbells will not fulfill this need.
Some of the best Compound exercises are listed below for your better information.
Compound Exercises For Back :-
- Dead lifts
- Bent Over Rows
- Lat Pull Down
- Seated Rowing
- Single Arm Dumbbell Rows
Compound Exercises For Legs :-
- Back Squats
- Front Squats
- Leg Press
- Sumo Squats
Compound Exercises For Shoulder :-
- Overhead Press
- Push Press
- Upright Rows
- Prone High Rows
- Arnold Press
Compound Exercises For Triceps :-
- Close Grip Bench Press
- Diamond Push ups
- Reverse Dips
Compound Exercises For Chest :-
- Bench Press
- Incline Bench Press
- Cable Press
- Chest Press
- Push ups
Compound Exercises For Biceps :-
- Drag Curls
- Inverted Rows
- Close Grip Chin Ups
Advantages or Benefits of Compound Exercises
- Compound exercises helps in building lean muscle mass.
- These exercises has a carry over in normal life as they help you in increasing your functionality.
- You will gain more strength and power if you focus on big compound lifts.
- These exercises helps you to burn more calories as they have an after burn effect also known as EPOC.
- There is less chances of injury in these exercises.
As mentioned in brief in the start, isolation exercises are those exercises that target only one muscle group at a time and only one joint is working during isolation lifts. Curls, extension and raises are the most common types of isolation exercises that we include in our workout routine. These exercises do not contribute much to as compared to the compound exercises but this does not mean you do not have to include these in your routine.
Understanding it with an example is a good way to increase some knowledge correctly, so here is the example for this. Targeting a specific muscle groups like the “biceps” do not have any major compound option and we need to train this muscle group with mostly isolation exercises. Bicep dumbbell curls or barbell curls are both an isolation lift and this involves only a single movement in your elbow joint and the muscles involved here are the biceps brachii. In this exercise you are hitting only one muscle at a time, which is why there is a less chance of growth but many of us think that being an isolation exercise biceps feel fatigued faster as compared to any other muscle group even if we are training those with compound movements.
Well this is just because you bicep muscles are the smallest muscle group among all those that you train. You will feel the increased blood flow in your biceps from your first set but you will not see this in any big muscle groups like legs or back. A major point arises from here that you need to focus more on your big muscle group because these muscles take time to develop but the small muscle groups like biceps and triceps can be developed fast even with less amount of training.
I know most of the people like hitting the biceps muscle more just because everyone wants to have big arms but the point is you need not have to worry about your arms, you need a direct focus more on your big muscle groups. Isolation exercises are important too but muscle involvement here is low as compared to compound. But if you do not have any option of compound you need isolation exercises to train your muscles for better results and growth. Isolation exercises for hamstrings, isolation exercises for biceps, isolation exercises for triceps are mostly preferred as do not have wide compound options.
Some of the best Isolation Exercises are listed below for your information.
Isolation Exercises For Back :-
- Straight Arm Pulldown
Isolation Exercises For Legs :-
- Leg Extensions
- Hamstring Curls
Isolation Exercises For Shoulders :-
- Rear Delt Raises
- Lateral Raises
- Front Raises
Isolation Exercises For Triceps :-
- Skull-crushers/Lying Triceps Extension
- Overhead Extension
- Pully Push Down
- Triceps Kick Back
Isolation Exercises For Chest :-
- Pec Dec Fly
- Cable Flyes
- Dumbbell Flyes
Isolation Exercises For Biceps :-
- Barbell Curls
- Hammer Curls
- Concentration Curls
- Cable Curls
Advantages Or Benefits Of Isolation Exercises
- Good for targeting a specific muscle group which is not possible in compound movements.
- Helps when you are dealing with some kind of injury so you can use other muscles instead of the injured one.
- Can help you in some cases to increase strength for your weaker muscle group.
- Doing it with cables or cam-based machine can create a constant tension on your targeted muscle group which is helpful in the growth of your muscle.
Conclusion – What should you do?
People usually compare Compound vs Isolation Exercises but do not see the basic difference between these two movements. If you are comparing “Compound vs Isolation Exercises” you should understand the basic meaning of these two terms and how they are different from each other. What are the advantages and disadvantages in both cases.
Which one is good then? Compound or Isolation? Both the lifts are important you don’t have any other option of Compound while training your biceps so you have to go for the isolation lift but in the case of bench press you have a compound option so you should only go for that not for the dumbbell flyes. Compound lifts make you strong, makes you big but in the absence of compound movements in your workout you have to go for an isolation movement at that time.