The most important step to design an effective training program is the selection of exercises with the greatest effects such as maximum muscle gain and fat loss. Exercises can be classified into two categories based on the joint movement. It can be either isolation (single joint) or compound (multiple joints) movement. In this post, you will find all the detailed information about isolation and compound exercises which will help you to select the best exercises to achieve your fitness goal.
Isolation exercises are single-joint exercises or movements in which only a single muscle is trained. In these exercises only one muscle is involved, there is minimal or almost zero involvement of other supporting muscles.
Following are some examples of isolation exercises
- Biceps curl
- Triceps extensions
- Leg extensions
- Preacher curl
- Front raises
- Lateral raises
- Calf raises
When an exercise involves curling (flexion) or extension movement in a single joint it is an isolation exercise that targets the single muscle. For example, when we do a biceps curl, there is a flexion movement in the elbow joint and when we do legs extension there is an extension movement in the knee joint. Isolation exercises are useful to concentrate on the growth of the particular muscle.
Compound exercises are multiple (more than one) joint exercises or movement in which multiple muscles are trained. Most likely compound exercises are used to target major muscles in the body like Back(lats), Chest, Quadriceps but it also involves the other small assists muscles like biceps, rear deltoid, and forearm with back, anterior shoulders and triceps with chest, gluteal muscles, and hamstrings with quadriceps.
Following are some examples of compound exercises
- Bench press
- Overhead shoulder press
- Bent over row
- Lat pull-down
Compound exercises are also used to train a major muscle group like pulling or pushing. In the bench press, the primary target muscle is chest but shoulder and triceps are assist muscles that are also heavily involved in a bench press. Also in lat pull-down, latissimus dorsi (lats) is a primary target muscle but biceps and rear deltoids are assist muscles and are heavily involved. In bench press and lat pull- down, both elbow and shoulder joints are working at the same time which makes it a compound movement. Compound exercises are not only useful to gain muscles and to increase the overall strength of the body but also are very important to lose fat. Compound exercises involve multiple muscles which help to burn more calories as it increases the BMR of your body. Thus compound exercises are more beneficial for increasing functional strength, gaining muscles, and fat loss than isolation exercises.
Compound exercises are also classified into two categories
Unsupported (Power) Exercises and Supported Exercises
Unsupported (power) Exercises
Unsupported (power) exercises are exercises where your body is unsupported. In unsupported (power) exercises the whole body is involved due to vertical compression on the spine. For example deadlift, squats, lunges, bent over row, overhead press (standing). Unsupported exercise helps to increase functional strength. Unsupported exercise also helps to increase the stability of the body as it focuses on core muscles such as Abdominal group, Erector spine, Paraspinal group, Gluteal group.
Supported exercises are exercises in which your body is supported. For the example bench press, lat pull-down overhead press (seated). In this exercise, core muscles are relaxed as your body is supported.