Compound vs Isolation Exercises

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 06, 2013 12:10 AM GMT
    Hey everyone, so I have been lifting on and off for a couple of years, but it wasn't until recently that I started to get serious about strength training. I was never really taught how to lift and I've picked it up reading articles online, in magazines, on realjock, and observing other people at the gym. Well, I started a new workout program that mainly consists of compound exercises and I've been doing a lot of research online about it. Basically, what I've learned is compound exercises are the way to go, but one needs to do some isolation exercises because not all compound exercises cover the body. What I learned is:

    Compound: it allows us to workout at the gym in less time because we are working out more muscles groups, its less stress on our joints, and it produces more anabolic hormones.


    Isolation: Helps us build volume with a specific muscle group, its good for people after an injury and need to make a specific muscle stronger, its good for training smaller muscle group s like the biceps, calves and triceps.

    I want to know what kind of exercises/routines you guys do. Why? And can one really get strong and bulk up just doing compound exercises?
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Apr 07, 2013 12:40 PM GMT
    I have found that the compound exercises are best for the large muscle groups like back and legs and sometimes for chest
    and of course for Core work

    but Bi's and Tri's for me need more isolation work

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    Apr 07, 2013 12:46 PM GMT
    Agreed, there seems to be a place for both -

    One thing I've noticed (no doubt as I'm a novice to weight training) is that more often pin-load type machines are better for isolation style work because they force the form (if not the cadence) to be closer to correct than free weights..

    Great topic..
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    Apr 07, 2013 1:15 PM GMT
    I go with the push pull split because I feel that that breaks down the most muscle fibers. I don't want to post my entire routine but I'll post my push day. I do anywhere from 5 to 12 reps, but I usually do 8 reps.
    Warm up: rear delt flys, rotator cuff exercises, and abs. I do high reps for these exercises and they are pretty low intensity.
    3 sets of arnold press
    3 sets of cable chest press
    3 sets of weighted dips
    3 sets of machine chest press
    3 sets of pec deck
    3 sets of lateral raises
    3 sets of tricep kickbacks
    Keep in mind that I have bad shoulders and I have to avoid the bench press because that aggravates my shoulders. If I didn't have bad shoulders I'd do the bench press first and the arnold press second because it's better to do free weights before machines imo. The arnold press takes so much out of me and it's actually my favorite exercise to do. I don't go to failure on any set, but I do come close to failure on the isolation exercises. Imo you could definitely build muscle on strictly compound movements, but I like doing both.
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    Apr 07, 2013 11:06 PM GMT
    dLbrown00 said
    And can one really get strong and bulk up just doing compound exercises?

    Yes. You should aim to do functional training above all else (in other words, train your body in ways that emulate how you'll use it in your everyday life). That means compound/multi-joint exercises primarily, because think about it, you're not likely to be doing anything resembling an exercise such as a seated single leg raise outside of the gym. That doesn't mean don't do it, it just means that you shouldn't use it as a primary exercise. Some form of a squat, on the other hand, is very probable, and accordingly you should have some variation of a squat in your routine.

    If you have both forms of exercises in your routine (which is very common), you should start with compound exercises and then do isolation exercises. In other words, save something isolated like lateral/front dumbbell raises for later and do something multi-joint like dips first. This is an ideal way to get the benefits of both styles of training and train in a functional way so that you avoid setting yourself up for injury.
  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4913

    Apr 16, 2013 7:25 PM GMT
    I keep it simple. My routines consist of one focus per day. Arms one day, chest, legs, shoulders, back. I do about six or seven exercises consisting of mostly isolation but some compound and then do three sets of ten reps. I start with about 30 minutes of warmup/cardio and end with about 20 minutes of cardio then cool down. So the cycle repeats every six days if I'm going regularly which I normally am. If you can't get to the gym every day, because you're young, you could combine a couple of these into one day and repeat more often but do give each of these five focus areas plenty of variety as well as reps. There are some more sophisticated routines but this works for me.