In a world where time is of the essence, the cliché hitting two birds with one stone often applies. What this basically means is that you can accomplish two activities and reach two end results in half the time.
This is exactly what compound exercises are all about. With a half-dozen compound exercises, you can get a full-body workout that will quickly build muscle mass and overall fitness while strengthening the body as a whole.
What are Compound Exercises?
Weight lifting exercises can be separated into two broad categories: compound movements and isolation movements.
Isolation exercises are those which move a single joint through its range of motion. Examples include the bicep concentration curl or the tricep kickback which both involve the elbow, the leg extension involving the knee, or calf raises which involve the ankle. They’re called “isolation” exercises because they put major stress on a single, isolated muscle.
Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that rely on the coordinated actions of several muscle groups to move two or more joints through a range of motion. The squat, for instance, involves both ankles, knees and hips and puts major stress on the quads, hamstrings, glutes, back and core, and a host of small, stabilizing muscles.
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Advantages of Compound Lifts
- Strength: You will be able to use much more weight when you are working more than one muscle group. This will increase your overall strength and size faster than using light weights. It will also strengthen the connective tissue that supports your muscles, which will help prevent certain injuries.
- Time: Doing compound exercises can save you time and shorten your workout. If you bench press, you are working your chest, shoulders, and triceps. Doing isolation movements for each of those muscles would take much more time than working them together. This can leave extra time in your workout for anything you want.
- Muscle: Because of the higher weights that you will be using, you will also gain more muscle mass. More of the smaller stabilizer muscles will be worked and your testosterone and growth hormone levels also increase after doing exercises like squats and deadlifts.
- Functionality: When you do an exercise such as squats, you are using your body as a unit. Your different body parts will work together to move the weight. Compound exercises will be more closely related to movements that you might do during the rest of your day such as move furniture or lift a heavy box.
Are All Isolation Exercises Worthless?
No. Isolation exercises have their place. However, they should not be the core of your workout. You will build all the muscle you need, and in a faster amount of time, if you would just stick to the core compound exercises.
As you put together your exercise program, make sure compound exercises form the core of your program. Isolation exercises are fun and add variety to your workouts, but only compound exercises can provide you with the resistance and intensity necessary to efficiently build muscle.