When it comes to building a strength training program there are several things to think about. When and how to incorporate isolation exercises, compound exercises or both is one of the things you need to consider.
An isolation exercise is a movement that incorporates limited muscle groups with a single joint movement. This type of movement will allow you to isolate a certain muscle group in which you may be focusing on growing or strengthening.
A compound exercise is a movement or combination of movements that incorporate several muscle groups and joints to be working at the same time. This type of movement engages more muscles, moves more joints and utilizes more energy to complete. This means that you can work more muscles and get more movement in a smaller amount of time while burning more overall calories.
Incorporating compound exercises has many overall benefits including:
maximizing time when time is limited
burns more overall calories
increases heart rate and exertion
Does this mean that you should use only compound exercises in your workouts all of the time? Absolutely not, but you should be incorporating them into your routine as either an entire workout at least once a week or thrown into your workouts with isolation exercises.
There are two ways in which you can incorporate compound movements:
single multi-joint movements that incorporate more than one muscle group and joint to move and engage such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, pushups, pull-ups
combining two or more exercises together such as a barbell squat and row, a dumbbell lunge and bicep curl, squat and lunge, bicep curl and overhead press, etc.
Here are a few workout examples incorporating compound exercises:
1) Compound exercise only workout for lower body
These lower body exercises are all compound movements and will incorporate multiple muscles of the lower body for each exercise:
narrow squat (feet hip to shoulder width apart)
wide squat (feet slightly wider than shoulders with feet turned out to about 45 degree angle)
plié squat (feet as wide as comfortably possible with feet turned out over 45 degree angle)
2) Compound exercise only workout for upper body
These upper body exercises are all compound movements and will incorporate multiple muscles of the upper body for each exercise:
lat pull down
4) Compound and isolation workout for the lower body
This workout will alternate between a compound movement and an isolation movement for lower body:
barbell deadlift - compound exercise
calf raises - isolation exercise for calves
goblet squat narrow - compound exercise
hamstring curls - isolation exercise for hamstrings
lunges walking or reverse - compound exercise
seated leg extensions - isolation exercise for quads
side lunges - compound exercise
hip abduction - isolation exercise for outer thighs
plie squats - compound exercise
hip adduction - isolation exercise for inner thighs
5) Compound and isolation exercise for upper body
This workout will alternate between a compound movement and an isolation movement for upper body:
pull ups - compound exercise
bicep curls - isolation exercise for biceps
lat pull down - compound exercise
single arm dumbbell row - isolation exercise for lats
push up - compound exercise
chest fly - isolation exercise for chest
chest press - compound exercise
reverse fly - isolation exercise for rear deltoids (shoulders)
shoulder press - compound exercise
lateral raise - isolation exercise for deltoids (shoulders)
tricep dips - compound exercise
tricep kickbacks - isolation exercise for triceps
6) Compound and isolation combos between upper and lower body
This workout will incorporate a lower body movement or hold with an upper body movement. This will really get the heart rate and blood levels elevated forcing several muscles of the lower and upper body to work at the same time.
barbell deadlift/barbell row
goblet narrow squat/overhead press
dumbbell rear lunge/bicep curl
dumbbell wide squat/frontal raise
dumbbell side lunge/reverse fly
squat hold/dumbbell tricep kickbacks
bridge hold/dumbbell chest fly
These are just samples of some of the ways you can incorporate compound exercises into your fitness routine. Get creative and see where you can add a few of these compound or combo moves in. They will be sure to fire up your muscles and burn some extra calories getting more out of your workout.