Whether or not compound exercises or isolation exercises are better is a question that comes up often when trying to get in amazing shape. Depending on your goal, whether it be weight loss, muscle building, or just getting really fit – you’re going to want to know which kind of exercise is going to help you reach that goal in the fastest time possible. So which kind of exercise should you focus on? Well, let’s do a quick analysis…
First…What Compound Exercises Are
Compound exercises are exercises that target multiple muscles. With weights, the “big 3” compound lifts for mass and functionality are deadlifts, squats, and bench presses since they all target multiple muscle groups. Any exercise that targets multiple muscle groups qualifies as a compound exercise.
What Isolation Exercises Are…
Any exercise that only targets one muscle group qualifies as an isolation exercise. Bicep curls and calf raises are good examples of this.
Compound vs. Isolation…Which is Better?
Ultimately, which type of exercise is better comes down to a question of what your goal is. For instance, if you’re looking to put on as much muscle mass as fast as possible then compound lifts are an absolute must. Another reason to do them is if you’re absolutely focused on functional fitness, then it is pivotal that you do exercises that teach your muscles to work together.
So are isolation exercises ever useful?
The answer is a resounding YES. The biggest and largest benefit that they give is allowing you to correct imbalances in muscle groups which is a BIG deal. Being able to correct muscle imbalances will not only help bring your workouts to the next level and improve compound movements as well, but they can also help you avoid injury.
Why? Because muscle imbalances are a huge cause for injuries, and one of the first things doctors and physical therapists look to rectify when trying to correct an injury. But doing exercises in isolation BEFORE an injury will not only improve your overall level of fitness, but help prevent the injury from happening in the first place.
Ultimately…BOTH Are Important
Ultimately, I recommend a healthy mix of compound and isolation exercises to help you reach your fitness goals and to help you prevent injuries on the way.