Compound vs isolation exercises

Compound exercises versus isolation exercises, which one is better? Well to get straight to the point many experts and professionals will agree that, on the whole, compound exercises are the better option out of the two. However, there are positives and negatives for both types of exercises depending on your overall goal.


These are exercises that hit more than one muscle group at the same time.

Compound exercise examples:
  • Deadlifts
  • Plank
  • Press-up
  • Squat
Pros of compound exercises:
  • Time-efficient. You can work more areas of the body during the same exercise, meaning you can also burn more calories and see quicker overall results to your physic.
  • More functionally useful. Compound exercises often mimic movements that you're more likely to use on a day-to-day basis, increasing their practical application.
  • You can lift heavier weights during compound movements because multiple muscle groups work together to lift the weight, helping you increase your strength quicker.
  • Decrease injury risk. Since the exercise is working multiple muscle groups, it is harder to overwork and injure yourself.
Cons of compound exercises:
  • If performed incorrectly, it can be hard to know what you are doing wrong. Since you are activating multiple muscle groups it can be difficult to distinguish what specific movement you are performing wrong and so harder to solve the problem.



These exercises only focus on one muscle group at a time.

Isolation exercise examples:
  • Bicep curls
  • Calf raise
  • Hamstring curl
  • Lateral raise
Pros of isolation exercises:
  • Evens muscles out. If you have a muscle imbalance and you're trying to strengthen one side to catch up with your other side (in strength or build) then isolation exercises can help you achieve that.
  • Targets muscles. If you do want to strengthen particular muscle areas over others you can focus on these groups more effectively while letting your other muscles rest.
  • Helps recovery. If you have injured yourself you can work on your injured areas more specifically to help strengthen that muscle group again.
Cons of isolation exercises:
  • Less time effective. It will take a long time to work your entire body if you perform isolation exercises only. It’s best to use them as complementary and secondary exercises rather than the base of your routine.
  • Easier to injure yourself as the target muscle group can easily be over-trained. It’s best to use lower weights and perform more reps to help avoid injuries.



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