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Compound vs Isolation Exercises

Weight training exercises are good for your health. You can grow muscles by doing various compound and isolation exercises that are good for your targeted muscles.

Luna Morin
Compound vs Isolation Exercises
Table Of Contents

You must have heard the terms compound lifts and isolation quite a lot of times from your trainer. Ever wonder what they mean? Well, let's find out…

Weight training exercises generally consist of two categories, compound, and isolation. Both are equally beneficial and you should always follow a workout routine that involves both categories. 

    What are compound exercises?

    As the name suggests, compound exercises are exercises that targets and involves multiple muscle groups, mostly large muscles and joints at the same time. The perfect example of a compound is the good old Squat. Squats primarily target the quadriceps but on the other hand, they also engage your hamstrings, lower back, glutes and calves to complete the movement.  Squats are undoubtedly the best addition to any workout routine.  

    Another example of a compound exercise would be 'deadlifts'. The best thing you can do during the workout is 'deadlifts'. The benefits of deadlifts are just amazing. The hips and knees work together to allow the body to hinge forward to pick up the weight, engaging multiple large muscles to complete the movement. If done correctly, deadlifts pretty much engage every muscle and joint in your body. As hard as it may seem, with the correct form and right weight, you can achieve a much-toned body with deadlifts. 

    Benefits of Compound Exercises

    Since compound exercises involve the muscle and joints both, its benefits are many. 

    1. Firstly, they are efficient, you can achieve more in less time and reps. 
    2. You also end up burning more calories since you're putting in more energy.
    3. The multiple movements that take place during compound lifts prepare your body to lift heavier loads than any isolation exercise. 
    4. Compound exercises allow your body to perform routine exercises more efficiently and quickly. 
    5. Exercises like squats and deadlifts stimulate movements like sitting down and standing up. 
    6. Compound exercises are known to build more stamina than any other workout. 
    7. They help improve muscle and body coordination. 
    8. Compound exercises make you stronger. 

    Want to know which compound exercises are best for different muscle groups?

    1. Best compound exercises for chest

    • Barbell bench press.
    • Wide grip push-ups.
    • Inclined dips.

    2. Best compound exercises for back

    • Deadlifts.
    • Barbell Dead Rows.
    • Pull-ups.

    3. Best compound exercises for leg

    • Weighted Squats.
    • Bulgarian split squat.
    • Leg press.

    4. Best compound exercises for shoulders

    • Arnold press.
    • Standing military press.
    • Rear Delt Rows.

    Now that you know what compound exercises are and how they work, let us talk about isolation exercises.

    What are Isolation Exercises?

    Isolation exercises pretty much do what the name suggests – they isolate. Isolation exercises are the exercises that target one muscle group and joint. They're muscle-specific and work on a particular muscle only. Curls raise, and extensions are usually considered as isolation exercises. You may want to do isolation exercise to grow a specific muscle. A perfect example of isolation exercise would be the bicep curl. A bicep curl is specifically performed to build and work on your bicep. It grows your muscle size and builds strength in the muscle. 

    Another great example of an isolation exercise is the 'leg extensions'. Leg extensions are usually done on a lever machine. You sit on a padded seat and raise another padded bar with your legs, rather shins. The exercise mainly works on the front of the thigh. You can perform the exercise to build lower body strength and muscle definition as a part of strength training. 

    Benefits of Isolation Exercises

    Incorporating isolation exercises in your workout routine can be beneficial if you want to target and work on a specific muscle. For instance, if you are recovering from an injury and you want to strengthen a particular muscle of your body, then isolation exercises are ideal until you recover and build up your lost strength again. 

    1. Targeting isolation exercises in your workout routine helps your muscles relax while one muscle does the work.
    2. Helping the injury recover while you target other muscles. 
    3. You get an opportunity to strengthen a part of your body which is weaker than the rest.

    Best isolation exercises for targeted muscles. 

    Best isolation exercises for targeted muscles

    1. Best isolation exercises for Chest

    • Seated chest flyes.
    • Inclined Dumbbell flyes.
    • Pec Deck Machine.

    2. Best isolation exercise for Back

    • Cable stiff-arm pulls down.
    • Best isolation exercise for Leg
    • Leg extensions.

    3. Best isolation exercises for Leg

    • Hamstring curl.
    • Calf raises.

    4. Best isolation exercises for Shoulder

    • Standing dumbbell lateral raises.
    • One arm front cable raise.

    Truth be told, both isolation and compound exercises have their own set of benefits and uses. We would strongly recommend that you incorporate both these in your workout routines for a complete body workout.


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    Luna Morin

    Luna is a freelance writer, passionate about bringing a positive change in people’s lives by producing well-researched content related to health and fitness. She makes sure that her content is relatable to her audience by exploring the latest trends in fitness.

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