Workout Wednesday #26

Compound vs Isolation 

This week we take a look at the differences between compound and isolation movements. What are the benefits? Is one more useful than the other? and some examples of each.


What is a Compound movement/exercise?

A compound movement can be defined as: Any exercise that engages two or more different joints and stimulates multiple muscle groups.

What is an Isolation movement/exercise?

An isolation movement can be defined as: Any exercise that engages a single (one) joint and stimulates a single muscle group.

Benefits of Compound movements/exercises over Isolation movements/exercises.

Compound movements are more efficient at building strength and muscle than isolation movements because they engage two or more different joints and thus stimulate multiple muscle groups. They often require us to work through larger ranges of movement than isolation movements and engage many more accessory muscles, improving balance, coordination and core strength as a by product.

Compound movements also allow us to complete a higher volume of work in a shorter period of time in comparison to isolation movements. They also allow us to lift heavier weights, creating greater opportunity for faster and more consistent progression.

This is not to say that isolation exercises have no use, they certainly have their uses in a programmed training split and can be very useful for body symmetry, training lagging body parts and aiding rehab after injury.

Examples of Compound movements/exercises.

  • Bench Press
  • Bent Over Row
  • Pull Up
  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Military (Shoulder) Press

Examples of Isolation movements/exercises.

  • Chest or Rear Flyes
  • Lateral or Front Raise
  • Bicep Curl
  • Tricep Extension
  • Leg Extension or Curl

Was this post useful? Did you know the differences between compound and isolation movements?

Have a question? Let us know in the comments below.

The Springhealth Team