Compound vs Isolation
I thought it would be informative to write a little about what both these types of movements are, how they are used, when/why they would find themselves in your program and give a little more insight into how both can best be utilised.
Firstly, what are compound and isolated movements?
Compound movements can be defined by the use of two or more joints and muscle groups in a single movement. For example, a squat or a deadlift.
Isolation movements involve one joint or muscle group. For example, a bicep curl or leg extension.
There are many ways in which each movement can compliment the other and in terms of structuring your program, they are very important! Most programs will have you performing your compound movements at the beginning of the workout as you recruit more muscle fibres and are more likely to perform optimally when you are fresh. However, this does not mean that you can’t put your isolation movements first at all, in fact this tactic is called ‘pre-fatiguing’. I myself implement this into my ‘Leg sessions’. The idea is to First of all warm up specific joints which you will use in your compound movements (knees) and to make sure that the muscles are primed and ready for activity. It also means that the targeted muscle (quadriceps) will be working twice as hard during the compound movement (squats) making them maximally fatigue before neurological factors play their part.
Isolation movements are typically used for when you have specific muscle groups you wish to train as part of a split routine, to stabilise a joint or when returning back to activity after an injury. A ‘Bicep Curl’ is a classic example of this.
A great way to demonstrate how a combination of these two methods (along with quality nutrition and the appropriate rest etc) can create results is to look at the younger generation. Many young gentlemen (18-30) head to the gym with an eye on getting a larger upper body. Having a split routine (where you break the body down into parts, for instances day 1 – Arms, day 2 – Chest etc) allows them to focus on specific areas, making sure that they are fatiguing those muscles sufficiently enough to stimulate growth (hypertrophy).
As I say, this is only going to happen if they harmonise all other elements involved with hypertrophy.
Both compound and isolation exercises can be used for any form of training or goal. It is simply a case of finding out what suits you AND your goal. Gym Instructors and Personal Trainers have been trained in writing tailored programs to cater for every eventuality, so if you are interested in knowing more about this subject, get in touch with a professional 🙂