whats better isolation exercises compound exercises?

whats better isolation exercises compound exercises?

If I hear ONE more person saying that a particular exercise is better because its a COMPOUND exercise I will BLOW MY STACK! ¬†People use this argument all the time in an attempt to “prove” that squats are better than leg press or deadlifting is superior to barbell rows.

Lets look at this argument carefully, its better because its a compound exercise and it works more muscles. Well, if that’s your argument as to why squats are better than leg press then you are wrong on two counts. First, because if its number of muscles that is your criteria then swimming would be a better exercise for legs than squats are because swimming uses more muscles. Secondly, leg press IS a compound exercise. Many people dont seem to understand what a compound exercise is. Its an exercise that causes a motion at two or more joints. For example leg curls only have rotation about the knee so its an isolation exercise. Leg press has rotation about the hip and the knee so its a compound exercise.

It IS fair to say that compound exercises can allow a more time effecient workout but it is NOT fair to say that compound exercises are better – each has its place. A perfect beginners workout has just three exercises – pushups, pullups and lunges – all are compound and allow a very time effecient workout. When you go beyond the beginner stage, whether compound or isolation exercises are better depends basically on two factors:

  • goals
  • injuries

Many times when you have an injury, compound exercises are not an option and you need to use isolation exercises. The older you get, the more common injuries are and the longer they take to heal. Isolation exercises are essential when it comes to keeping consistent workouts even thru injuries.

Your goals will determine which exercises are optimal, I cant list them all but let me give you some examples:

  • a teen wanting to gain muscle mass as quickly as possible – heavy compounds
  • a senior citizen wanting to keep strong for everyday life – isolation exercises
  • a powerlifter – heavy compounds
  • a bodybuilder – compound + isolation
  • healthy person with little time to workout – compound exercises

You cant say that one type exercise is superior to the other – they both have their place!!!