How to Incorporate Compound and Isolation Exercises in a Workout

In this article we first talk about some of the limitations of compound exercises and how to overcome them. We then describe how isolation exercises can be incorporated into a workout.

Compound exercises are a must in any good workout as they provide benefits in all the arenas of fitness be it muscle growth, strength, function or weight loss. However compound exercises do have their limitations:
1. Compound exercises involve performing functional movements of the body with free weights. This puts a lot of stress on our joints, hence if done incorrectly these exercises may result in injury. It is absolutely critical to perform these exercises with correct form. The best way of ensuring it is to show the form to a trained eye. Make sure to do this with lightweights. If you do not have anybody to give feedback, feel free to send us an email, we will be happy to take a look.

2. To get full benefit of a compound exercises, it needs to be performed over a full range of motion. As an example to get full benefit of squats, we need to atleast go down so that our thighs are parallel to the floor. This requires some amount of flexibility and strength. Considering our current sedentary lifestyle, many of us might not have such flexibility or strength. To overcome this limitation start out with lightweights and then slowly build the strength up. On increasing the weight or range of motion always pay close attention to your form or better get it checked by someone with a trained eye. Most injuries happen because someone tried to lift weight that they could not manage. If you are just starting out, we recommend you start out with an empty bar and then gradually increase the weight.

3. Compound exercises involve the cohesive use of a team of muscle groups. Just as in a team the workload might get unevenly distributed between team members based on the competency of a certain team member, similarly while performing compound exercises one muscle group might end up doing more work than others. This can cause some muscles to strengthen more than others. Since a chain can only be as strong as the weakest link, only performing compound exercises can result in strength and muscle gain plateaus. This is where the isolation exercises can be of great use.

An isolation exercise targets only a single muscle group. These exercise are most often, but not always, performed on machines. These machines provide support to rest of the body, while one muscle groups does all the work. Since only one muscle group does the work, the overall intensity of such an exercise is relatively low. Such an exercise therefore is not very effective in developing mass and strength. This does not mean that isolation exercises are completely useless. They are in fact very useful in breaking out of the muscle and strength gain plateaus, as one can selectively strengthen the weakest link stopping us from increasing our strength. Moreover isolation exercises may also be used to increase the volume of our workout, wherein we can add a few isolation exercises after completing the compound lifts just to increase the total amount of work done during a workout session.

To conclude, compound movements should form the foundation of our workout, while isolation exercises may be added on top based on our specific needs depending on our goals. Through compound movements we will make actual muscle and strength gains, while to optimize such a muscle and strength gain we may include a few isolation exercises. This concludes our video on the exercises.