COMPOUND EXERCISES & ISOLATION EXERCISES

Author, Ryan J. Shields

For a proper full-body workout, I recommend incorporating compound (a.k.a. primary) exercises that work both the upper and lower body. For both men and women, I recommend utilizing compound movement exercises such as chest presses, squats, rows, pull-ups and shoulder presses as your primary exercises within each workout.
 
The advantage to using compound movements is that they utilize multiple parts of your body within the same movement. This creates a very effective and efficient environment for your body transformation to happen quicker.
 
Strength training with compound exercises (and isolation exercises) increases your metabolism even after your workout is complete. Therefore, not only will your muscles benefit from these exercises but the potential for fat loss is also greater post-workout. In addition, compound movements also help to improve coordination and balance. Also, when performed properly, they usually have the potential to strengthen your core muscles as an additional benefit.
 
Compound movements can be performed in a wide variety of ways which will keep your body challenged and allow your progression to continue faster. You can perform compound movements using free weights, machines, cable towers or even simply with your own body weight. For example, a chest press can be performed using several different methods including utilizing a standard bench press or a chest press machine or with barbells or by doing a push-up by simply utilizing your body weight.
 
As you can see from this example, there are so many ways to do a compound movement that they are not simply limited to one gender or certain fitness goals. Rather, everyone can benefit. No matter what your age or fitness level is, both men and women alike will highly benefit from utilizing compound movements.
 
Isolation (a.k.a. accessory) exercises such as curls primarily work just one muscle group. For example, a bicep curl largely only works the bicep and not many other muscles are recruited. Although isolation exercises can be helpful to target certain muscles that are lagging, they may not be the most efficient way to transform if they are being utilized exclusively. However, they can certainly be useful in conjunction with compound movements for additional muscle development.
 
Depending on your preference, a few sets of any isolation exercise can be woven into your workout or they can also be paired directly with a compound exercise. Combining compound and isolation exercises together (performed back to back with little to no rest) is known as a super-set.
 
For example, you could do 3 sets of pull-ups which primarily utilize the biceps, forearms, upper and middle back and abdominal muscles and follow that up with an additional set or sets of bicep curls immediately afterwards to further work that muscle. This strategy can be a very effective way to train by further working the muscle or muscle group.
 
Remember, while the training that you do within your workouts is vital, it is also very important to be relatively active on rest days as well. Do something physically challenging outside of the workout such as a brisk walk, a challenging hike, yardwork or something comparable. By incorporating this ‘plateau breaker’ into your off days, it keeps the body and muscles stimulated and also breaks up any monotony you may experience from your routine.


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