Compound vs. isolation exercise; Part 2


Photo: jerryonlife CC-BY-2.0

This is the second in a series of articles on compound vs. isolation exercises. In the series we will discuss the pros and cons of each of the two types of movements. From there you will be armed with the knowledge of whether one or the other is better for you.

In the part 1 of this series we looked at the compound exercises. We covered why one would use them, as well as the benefits. In Part 2 we are covering isolation exercises. Should you use them?

It would probably be a safe bet to say that many people begin training with weights, and really exercising in general, in order to gain health benefits. It could also be argued that many more are after the look. Is this Vain? Perhaps, but it is still a fact.


As the name suggests, a user focuses primarily on one particular muscle during a given workout. An example of this would be a dumbbell curl; when done correctly, only the bicep is used in this movement.


When a bodybuilder focuses only on their triceps in a given training session, that muscle becomes totally fatigued. That muscle, in a properly planned routine, may not be the focus again for possibly up to a week. That amount of rest assures that the muscle has plenty of time to rebuild.

With the muscle being sculpted in this way, and then receiving plenty of rest periods between use makes for bigger, more defined muscles. Bodybuilders have been using this tactic for forty to fifty years with freakish results.


When “buff”, well defined muscle is the goal, isolation exercises are just exactly what the doctor ordered. After all, sometimes in life we just want to look like we can lift a small car, without actually wanting to actually do it. So, which is better, compound vs. isolation exerscise? We will discuss that in Part 3.

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3 Responses to “Compound vs. isolation exercise; Part 2”

  1. [...] is a first in a series of articles on compound versus isolation exercises. In the series we will discuss the pros and cons of each of the two types of movements. From there [...]

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