Don't Live in Isolation! Compound Vs. Isolation Movements


What Are Compound Exercises?
Many PUBLIC BODY programs focus on compound exercises. Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time. A simple example of a compound exercise is the squat, which engages many muscles in the lower body and core, including the quadriceps,  hamstrings, calves, glutes, the lower back and  core. Another example is a pushupwith a shoulder tapwhich targets the chest but also shoulder strength and stability, while a burpee (I know, I know) essentially hits your chest, shoulders, abs, back, glutes and legs…(See that’s what you have a love/hate with this gem of an exercise)

What Are Isolation Exercises?
Isolation exercises work one muscle or muscle group and one joint at a time. Examples of isolation exercises include the biceps curl or the quadriceps extension. These exercises are often performed with weight machines found in many gyms (SNOOZE……)  The idea is to isolate one muscle group and move from one machine to the next until you "work" your whole body. Isolation exercises are often used to correct a specific muscle weakness or imbalance that often occurs after an injury or surgery.


Why Use Compound Exercises?
If you are trying to get the most out of your training quest for hotness and awesomeness, compound exercises are generally the way to go. There are many reasons to use compound exercises during your workout, including the following:


Using more muscle groups. .

Simulates real-life movements and activities

Burns more calories  

Allows you to get a full body workout faster

Improves coordination and balnace

Improves joint stability

Keeps your heart rate up

Allows you to lift heavy and stimulate muscle growth


Examples of Compound Exercises

Pushup to Side Plank



Deadlifts (A Public Body Fave)



Kettlebell Swings



Why Use Isolation Exercises?
Isolation exercises are often used to correct muscle weakness that may have occurred after an injury. If you never retrain an injured or weaker muscle, it could create a more permanent pattern that is difficult to correct. Another reason to perform specific isolated exercises is to increase the size or bulk of a specific muscle group (get huuuuge.)  If you want big, yummy, bulging biceps for your next beach vacation, you'll probably want to add some bicep isolation work to your regular exercise routine. 


Examples of Isolation Exercises

Triceps Press

Bicep Curls

Shoulder Press/Raise

Calf Raises

Leg Extensions

Hamstring Curls

So if you are interested in getting a complete, efficient and functional workout, focusing mostly on compound exercises is a smart idea. But there are times when isolating a specific muscle, muscle group or joint may be necessary for your specific idea of total hotness and awesomeness. If you aren't sure what is best for you, just ask your local, friendly, sassy Public Body trainer.