Compound vs. Isolation Exercises?


Compound vs. Isolation Exercises?
What You Need to Know

At some point, you’ve probably heard that specific exercises target specific muscle groups. Another theory you’ve heard is to alternate which muscle groups you’re working out. Then the next day, HIIT is the latest craze, and it is a full-body workout. What the heck is going on?!

Workout routines consist of isolation exercises, compound exercises, or sometimes a combination of both. Depending on your fitness goals, one type of exercise may benefit you more than the other. Here’s what you need to know to at least get you started.


Isolation Exercises

What makes isolation exercises different from compound ones is that they only target one muscle. They isolate a specific muscle group. When you walk into the gym, most of the machines you see are meant for isolate a muscle group. The bicep curls will only target your biceps, and the leg curls will focus entirely on your hamstrings.


Compound Exercises

If you’ve ever done a lunge, squat, or any sort of press exercise, you’ve done a compound exercise. These exercises don’t use only one muscle group when you’re completing repetitions. They may target a specific muscle group but use others to assist. For example, doing a pull-up primarily focuses your back muscles, and also stimulates your biceps.

It’s just as important to know the primary and secondary muscle groups you’re working out during each exercise. Even though your triceps might be only a secondary muscle group for a variety of exercises, that’s still a LOT of work for them to go through and you’ll find they might be the sorest muscle the following day.

Additionally, compound exercises are used in many popular fitness group classes since they burn calories faster than isolation exercises. Search for courses like Studio X, Zumba, or HIIT to experience compound exercises.


Which exercise is best?

Your fitness goals will help determine which exercises you should incorporate into your routine. Whether you’re training to increase muscle mass or rehabilitating an injury, compound and isolation exercises provide varying results.

If you’re wanting to build muscle mass, a compound exercise should be a large part of your workout plan. You’ll be able to do fewer movements to target more muscle groups, rather than doing a bunch of movements that work one muscle group at a time. Also, you don’t have to do them quickly to feel the burn. Compound exercises still rely on proper form to be most effective, and proper form can be lost if you’re speeding through your workout.

What types of exercise do you participate in?
Have you tried either of these types of exercise?
What type of exercise would you like to learn more about or incorporate into your fitness plan?

You can think of compound exercises are more time efficient too. Even though you’re not going to speed through your repetitions, you won’t need as many to get a full workout. If you’re short on time and want to work your body to its fullest potential, choose compound exercises.

Now, perhaps you’re rehabilitating a muscle because it was injured. This is when isolation exercises are essential to strengthen that muscle group. Although compound exercises are great for building overall muscle mass, isolation exercises will help even out weak or uneven areas. Those extra pumps can help build up your biceps even more than compound exercises will along.

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One thought on “Compound vs. Isolation Exercises?

  • October 16, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    I’m doing good to get a walk in now and then, lol. I’m really bad. Thanks for posting!


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