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Compound and isolation exercise are probably words you’ve heard thrown around in the gym, but, if you’re looking at building strength and muscle mass, which should you be focusing your workouts around?
We’re here to give you the low-down on everything you need to know about compound and isolation exercises.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
You might have heard of them, but you’d be forgiven for having no clue what the terms compound and isolation actually mean.
Isolation exercises work one muscle at a time.
Some examples might be the Bicep curl, tricep pushdown and leg extension/curl.
Compound exercises work multiple muscle groups at the same time.
The big three (the squat, bench press and deadlift) all come under this category.
So, which is better?
Isolating one muscle group helps it to grow.
By focusing all of the load on one muscle group, no secondary muscles are taking over and making that target muscle groups life any easier. For example, if you’re looking at building your chest, you might find that although doing bench press seems like the best option, your chest is taking very little of the load. For a lot of people, a lot of the work goes to the triceps and deltoids.
Due to the fact you’re only working one muscle group, you’re likely to be using much lower weights than if multiple muscle groups were being recruited.
Also, how often in day to day life does movement only require one muscle group? Not very often.
In other words, isolation exercises aren’t functional movements, which means even if you have some seriously popping biceps, day-to-day movements might not be as easy.
Opposite to isolation movements, compound exercises recruit multiple muscle groups and contribute towards more functional movements. With more muscle groups being recruited, you will also be able to take more load, resulting in faster and more consistent movement patterns, utilising heavier weights.
As you’re hitting more muscle fibres, another positive is that you can get a full body workout a lot quicker than if you were just focusing on isolation exercises. Your gym sessions, therefore, become a lot more efficient.
While training more muscles might seem like it comes without any negatives, if you are looking at targeting and growing a specific muscle, then compound might not be the best way to go.
As mentioned before, during compound exercises, secondary muscles can help take the load, which can mean that the muscle you’re actually targeting gets a little lazy. Our bodies are smart, and when one muscle group begins to fatigue then other secondary muscles will try to compensate. Reducing the ability to train a muscle group to it's max, without utilising isolation exercises.
LET’S WRAP THIS UP
When it comes to compound Vs isolation exercises, the truth is, they both have a time and a place, and we would recommend incorporating both into your training programme to see maximum results.
Each and every person is different, so with these pros and cons in mind, consider your goals and decide which is going to be most effective for you.
WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE: COMPOUND OR ISOLATION? LET US KNOW DOWN BELOW.