What do squats, deadlifts, pushups and pull-ups all have in common? Besides adding an extra element of difficulty to your workout routine, these exercises are all similar in that they work multiple muscle groups at one time – and are therefore known as compound exercises. Other compound movements include lunges, dips, bench presses, standing overhead press, snatches, cleans and push jerks.

Isolation exercises are the opposite of compound exercises. These movements only target one muscle group and include bicep curls, lateral raises, leg extensions and calf raises.

What are the benefits of compound exercises over isolation exercises?

  • More functional and related to everyday movements and activities
    • For example – think of a squat (compound movement) vs. a hamstring curl (isolation movement). A squat is a movement that is performed a lot outside of the gym. Whenever we sit down into a chair and stand back up or bend down to pick something up off the ground, we are performing some sort of squat variation. However, a hamstring curl is practically never done outside of the gym and doesn’t have a lot of functional value.
  • Burn more calories because they work multiple muscle groups at once
  • Increase the volume of your workout by allowing you to lift more load
  • More efficient at increasing overall strength

If your goals are to make your workout as efficient as possible, burn more calories, lift heavier weights and increase your overall strength faster, then compound exercises should place priority over isolation exercises. Isolation exercises are a great complement to a workout focusing on compound exercises, but you will get better results by focusing on compound movements – especially if you are short on time.

It’s important to consider your goals when deciding which type of exercise will be more effective for you. Contact Bayshore Fit to talk with a certified personal trainer about the right exercise program for you.