Looking good, getting strong, and enhancing performance are just a few reasons why people go to the gym. To achieve your goals, you must train properly and eat the right foods. When it comes to hitting the weights, what exercise should you be doing to hit a specific body part?
2 CATEGORIES: COMPOUND AND ISOLATION
Compound movements recruit more than one major muscle group to execute a single repetition, while isolation movements require only one major muscle group to perform a single repetition. Learning to combine and utilize these two types of movements to your training will significantly impact your physical appearance, strength levels, and performance.
For Body Composition/Bodybuilding/Aesthetics/Just Looking Good
Compound (60%) + Isolation (40%)
With regards to building muscle and putting on mass, compound movements are far superior to isolation movements. Focusing on the big 4 exercises (squats, bench press, deadlifts, overhead presses) will recruit all of the major muscles groups, will tone, and build muscle as long as you’re eating at a calorie surplus.
Isolation movements have their place in bodybuilding and body composition and they shine when trying to bring up lagging body parts. Smaller muscle groups like the calves, forearms, biceps, and lateral deltoids are muscle groups that are not as targeted during the compound movements so they need extra work. Adding isolation movements to your routine that work these muscle groups will be beneficial to creating a more well-rounded physique.
Compound (80%) + Isolation (20%)
Using compound movements is still far superior to isolation movements in terms of building strength. Additionally, the more muscle groups being recruited, the higher the potential for overall strength increases.
So how can strength athletes benefit from isolation movements? To answer this question, you need to bear in mind that “you’re only as strong as your weakest link”.
Isolation movements help strengthen weaker muscle groups that can hinder progress on your compound movements. For example, the back can handle a much greater amount of weight compared to your grip. As a result, deadlifts usually suffer due to poor grip strength. Isolation movements should be incorporated into strength training programs to strengthen the weaker muscles.
For Performance & Sports-Specific
Compound (30%) + Isolation (20%) + Functional (50%)
Whether you’re an athlete trying to improve your performance or someone who just wants better functional movement, both compound and isolation exercises have their place in your training regimen. Athletes who participate in sports that require explosiveness need to focus on the compound lifts. Instead of trying to move a greater amount of weight, they should focus on moving the weight from point A to point B as fast as possible; focus on power over strength.
As much as compound exercises seem like the more favorable type of movement, isolation exercises still need to be a part of your training program to condition the smaller muscle groups that may be neglected. An effective program is one that uses both types of movements synergistically to improve your overall physical condition. Be smart with your training and always think about how each exercise will benefit your performance.
Train With Intensity
While training, remember that intensity is also key for achieving results - as much as doing the correct compound/isolation split for your goal is important, you have to be putting in the effort to make sure you're challenging yourself. If you're finding that you can't finish your workouts, or you're losing strength/endurance during the workout, try using an Intra-workout supplement like Beyond BCAAs to help you recover more between sets and set yourself up for success. This will ensure you're bringing more blood flow and oxygen to the muscles you're using, and shuttling out the metabolites so you can train at your peak for longer.