The two main divisions of strength training are compound and isolation exercises, every form of weightlifting ( which is a form of strength training) works on your muscles, now the question is do you focus on multiple groups of muscle at once or like one punch man, do you finely polish a specific group of muscles?

Compound and Isolation Exercises: Definition

Compound exercise

This involves the contraction or movement of multiple groups of muscle across two or more joints. Examples of group of muscles are the biceps, quadriceps, gluteus, hamstrings etc.

For it to be a compound exercise more than two groups of muscles must be involved and it must cut across two or more joints. Use this as the basics of distinguishing between compound and isolation exercises.

Examples of compound exercises are,

  • Squats
  • Deadlift
  • Bench press
  • Overhead press
  • Pull-ups
  • Lunges
  • Dips
  • Push-ups

Isolation exercise

It involves the contraction or movement of a single group of muscle within a joint. 

Examples of isolation exercises are,

  • Biceps curls
  • Leg extension
  • Forearm twist
  • Calve raises

Benefits of Compound and Isolation exercise.

Compound exercise

Working out multiple groups of muscles has its benefits, they include.

1.Weight loss and overall fitness.

The demand compound exercise places on the body is high, because more groups of muscles are activated meaning more energy (calories) is been used within a relatively shorter period.(Get rid of belly fat now!)

This is especially helpful when weight loss is your priority.

It also improves your fitness levels tremendously, and your body becomes accustomed to lifting because it is more tasking.

For optimal use of calories, compound exercises are the best, think of it as a cheat code or shortcut: you’re doing the largest volume of work at the shortest time interval.


2.Balance and coordination

Do you want to know how to even-out the size difference in your right arm when compared to your left (vice versa)? Then think compound. By putting equal resistance on both sides of your body it helps them grow evenly. For example, benching ensures both sides do the same volume of work.

When doing an isolation exercise like bicep curls you often do more reps on your dominant arm because while the other is fatigued you can still get 2 extra reps out of your dominant arm.

Compound exercise uses multiple groups of muscles and this helps your balance how?  Your brain coordinates your muscles more uniformly, this means when it tells them to contract they do like a well-trained military unit.


3.Saves time

When you want to use up the most energy in the shortest time try squatting, instead of isolation exercise that takes mins before you work out a sweat, compound exercise helps get the most work done in the shortest time.

It is the only way to train multiple groups of muscles quickly.



Compound exercises are the true test of strength and the muscles they work are what you use in real-life situations.

 Let’s say deadlift which works most of your back, arms and hamstrings depending on the variation, every heavy object you lift is with your back and by strengthening it you make the everyday task easier.

Tell me one real-life activity that incorporates the range of motion of curls?

5.To get stronger

For thy strength to grow ,heavy you must go. And the Easy way to achieve this is through compound exercise. It puts stress on multiple groups of muscles making them grow.

Isolation exercise

The only benefit of isolation exercise is aesthetic appreciation, imagine having huge biceps but not been able to do the basic lifting. 

It is a “tool” mostly for bodybuilders or those that have achieved a good fitness level and simply want to work on specific muscle group genetics didn’t bless him with, e.g. the way a bodybuilder grows his calves for 6 months.

Isolation places little demand on the body and should not be your main program.

A good program should be 80% compound and 20% isolation exercise.

When should you do compound and isolation exercises?

For beginners, it is advised able to focus on compound exercise because of the above benefits after achieving a reasonable level of fitness you can take a long look in the mirror and work on  stubborn group of muscles that refused to grow with the body i.e. isolate lagging muscles

Start your work out with compound exercises because it is more tasking, only In the case of fatigue or persisting injury should you do isolation exercise first. You can also do isolation exercise in-between sets of compound exercise


Compound and isolation exercises should be your workout routine with compound taking more than 80%. Isolate when you notice you notice a group of muscles refusing to grow.