The superiority of compound vs. isolation exercise


Get ready for some fitness science today.

In order to get great results for our clients at the gym we not only have to work hard but we need to work smart.

Today, we are going to chat about the benefits of using compound movements over isolating movements in exercise routines.

A compound exercise in the world of fitness constitutes a full body movement, which typically engages at least two joints and demands a large amount of energy.

Compound movements then, would engage more muscles during one repetition than an isolating exercise. This would create an increased response of the nervous system on the acting muscles, inhibiting greater results. Compound movements also mean you work your stabilizing muscles to a much greater extent. Overall a compound movement can help develop more athleticism and control in one’s body.

When your strapped for time, sometimes the gym and your fitness routine fall by the way side.

If you can make your program more efficient, by using compound exercises, you will end up spending a lot less time in the gym, with three to five movements, and getting the same, if not, greater results.

Part of the reason for this is determined by the number of muscle fibers that your body is activating, and the hormones this stress releases.

Human Growth Hormone and testosterone are your two main muscle builders in the body. Don’t worry ladies! Your testosterone levels are much lower than men’s and it will always be much harder to stimulate growth.

The efficiency of this workout and demand of this workout work hand in hand.

By simplifying your training routine you’ll free up time to work on other crucial aspects of fitness, including your cardiovascular health, your flexibility and other recovery techniques.

Compound exercises are absolutely fantastic but like all other exercise techniques and programs, it means nothing without proper nutrition, sleep and overall recovery.

By maximizing your results and reducing gym time we see a decreased risk of overtraining which would send your body backwards and undo all of your hard work.

Isolation exercises have a definite place in the your training but they are a small part of the big picture.

If a compound exercise is one of your main building blocks that maximize your training, isolation exercises are smaller bricks to add on and get that little extra out of yourself.

This is displayed in the world of bodybuilding where muscles are more used as a point of aesthetic vs. strength and athleticism.

Hopefully, this has sold you on why compound movements are superior to constant isolation training and you want more efficient and useful results.

Here are a few of the movements to get started with – barbell bench press, barbell back squat, deadlift, lunges, front squats, pull-ups, bent over rows, standing military press among others.

Have fun, be safe in the gym and work smart!

Remember that if you don’t know these exercises well, please ask a fitness pro in your gym about them. There is never such thing as a silly question when it comes to safety on the gym floor.

Dave Barth is a trainer leader at 360 Fitness in Red Deer.