Isolation V Compound

Don’t compound the problem, do compounds

I am a huge fan of compound movements due to the fact they work.

So what is a compound movement? Well its one that involves multiple joints and muscles (squat, deadlift etc) compared to isolation movements which isolate a single muscle group (tricep pull down, calf raise etc)

A workout composed of just 8 compound exercises can engage and stimulate every major muscle in the body. They also create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest time and by using multiple joints and muscles develops body proportionality.

So for the average person who cant be in the gym all day (unlike me) compound exercises are the key to achieving your goals whilst juggling busy lives.

Compounds use more muscle groups, motor units and muscle fibres than any other exercises. Isolation exercises have their place but nothing compares to the increase in balance, co ordination, allowance for greater weight, stimulate the central nervous system and work the body in a real world way (functional) than compounds.

The deadlift for example uses both the hips and knees and many muscles such as the quads, hams, glutes, lats, traps, delts and core. Surely these are the king of exercises.

By using many joints and muscles you can (with good technique) handle heavier weights which translates to increased muscle mass, enhanced athletic performance, improved stability and better functionality.

I must stress the importance of good technique. Being a Personal Trainer in Bury St Edmunds I see many people doing compounds with poor technique which will lead to problems sooner rather than later…so please get advice on this.

Below is a workout I like to go through with my clients who have limited time and wish a full body workout to stimulate muscle growth, weight loss or strength and power gains.

1. Squat

The squat and deadlift fight for the throne of top compound exercise. Primarly used for the quads, hams and glutes it targets the core in a way which will help with upper body movements and also the lower and upper back.

Personally after a good squat set im sweating and panting. Showing the metabolic and cardio respiratory benefits of the squat cant be replicated.

2. Deadlift

Like the squat many think its just for the legs but the deadlift gives an incredible upper body workout. Working your lats, traps, chest and arms. Suffice to say this lift (with the squat) is mandatory for those wanting complete thickness through their body or a full body workout.

3. Lunge

Another compound to fire up the lower body but surprisingly target other areas too.

As well as hitting the hams, quads and glutes it will hit your abs, back and traps.

As with all exercises over time and as strength and technique improve you can progress the intensity and difficulty. For example you can progress to the Bulargian split squat.

4. Bench Press

Known as the ‘upper body squat’ this will grow or tone your upper body like no other. Not only your chest but shoulders, triceps, back and core.

To get the most from the bench press emphasize or slow the negative (lowering) phase. By doing this and not ‘dropping’ the bar you will increase ‘time under tension’ and really stretch and work the muscle fibres.

5. Lat pull downs

Not only targeting and growing your lats (wings) it will fire up you arms. I prescribe this for beginners and over time progress to wide grip, pull ups, wide grip pull ups and bent over rows.

6. Shoulder press

This is the one for getting those ‘boulder shoulders’. But not only that. It will work your triceps, pecs and upper back.

Again there are many variations and adaptations you can use over time to ensure progressive overload and get the training effect to beat those plateaus. Such as kneeling, seating or standing. Different inclines, grips, dumbbells or barbells and the classic ‘Arnold press’…. So ‘do it!…do it now!’

7. Dips

This oldie but goodie is responsible for growing more chests, shoulders and triceps than any other.

You can use your bodyweight or weighted. By changing to close or wide grip and how you lean you can engage the triceps or chest more.

So use these compound exercises. By utilizing them you will be training smarter not longer.

Powerlifters, weightlifters and cross fitters swear by them. With the emphasis on pulling, pushing, squatting, pressing and lifting it reproduces real life movements that not only make you look better, feel stronger and fitter but help you complete daily tasks.