What Are Compound And Isolation Exercises?

Although weight training exercises can be classified in many ways, the most common approach is to group them based on how many muscles groups are being targeted and how the workout trains your body. Primarily, we can create two categories of exercises: (verywellfit)

  • Isolation
  • Compound

Both isolation and compound exercises can help you work toward your fitness goals. Let's learn more about the differences between isolation and compound exercises below.

Compound Exercises

A compound exercise targets multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Usually, one large muscle group does most of the work, while other muscle groups play a supporting role. Below are some common exercises and the muscle groups that they target (Liftearngrow):

  • Flat, Decline, Incline Bench Press
  • Primary target: Chest

    Secondary target: Triceps, shoulders

  • Overhead Shoulder Press
  • Primary target: Shoulders

    Secondary target: Triceps

  • Dips
  • Primary target: Triceps

    Secondary target: Chest, shoulders

  • Rows
  • Primary target: Back

    Secondary target: Biceps

  • Pull-ups, Lat Pull-downs, Chin-ups
  • Primary target: Back

    Secondary target: Biceps

  • Deadlifts
  • Primary target: Posterior Chain

    Secondary target: Most of the lower and upper body

  • Squats
  • Primary target: Quads

    Secondary target: Lower back and most of lower body like glutes/hamstrings

    Basically, if a workout requires you to push, pull, squat, or deadlift, it's going to train multiple muscle groups. So, it becomes a compound exercise.

    Isolation Exercises

    Unlike a compound exercise, isolation exercises target just one major muscle group and other muscle groups are avoided. So, only one muscle group does all the work. Given below are some common isolation workouts and the muscles they train (Relentlessgains):

  • Decline, Incline or Flat Flyes
  • Target: Chest

  • Front or Lateral Raises
  • Target: Shoulders

  • Biceps curls
  • Target: Biceps

  • Triceps Extensions
  • Target: Triceps

  • Leg Extensions
  • Target: Quads

  • Leg Curls
  • Target: Hamstrings

  • Calf Raises
  • Target: Calves

    So, if a workout involves extending, curling or raising, it will target only one big muscle group, which makes it an isolation exercise.

    Compound Exercise Benefits

    If you want to get into great shape, compound exercises are an ideal choice. Since you work more than one joint and muscle, you can burn a lot more calories than with isolation exercises. Compound exercises allow you to complete your daily tasks more easily, as exercises like deadlifts and squats are similar to routine movements like standing up or sitting down. In short, compound exercises offer the following benefits (8lift):

    • Improve coordination
    • Improve strength
    • Burn more calories
    • Save time

    Isolation Exercise Benefits

    If your goal is to target a specific muscle in your body, isolation exercises can be a fitting choice. For instance, if you're trying to recover from a muscular injury, you need to do a specific exercise to strengthen that muscle.

    Below are some benefits of isolation exercises:

    • Helps target specific muscles
    • Helps recover from a specific muscle injury
    • Helps strengthen a weaker muscle or part of your body

    This was an introduction to isolation and compound exercises. You can follow this guide if you want to choose between the two in your workout regimen (8lift).






    Back to blog