It seems like everywhere you go people are debating the merits of certain exercises.
Squats. Deadlifts. Compound. Isolation.
But how do we know which is best?
Honestly, I think this whole debate is silly because they are the same. Technically, every exercise is a compound exercise. It’s practically impossible to fully isolate a muscle. Everything you do has an effect on the rest of the body.
Even if you were able to isolate a muscle, every time you engage a single muscle you are creating a change in the entire body.
For example, you could do bicep curls until you’re blue in the face, and you are still affecting your entire body. Doing a lot of arm movements and strengthening will raise your center of gravity, while doing leg strengthening will lower your center of gravity. This also relates to how you hold and engage your core, or midsection.
So instead of asking a limited question of “which is better, isolation or compound exercises?“ I find it more valuable to ask a question that is all inclusive, such as: “when is the best time to use each specific type of exercise?“
Being inclusive with compound versus isolation exercises also allows you to be inclusive in other areas. If you have a tendency toward doing a lot of weight lifting, perhaps you should be all inclusive toward yoga and Pilates. If you stretch a lot, perhaps you need to do more strength work.
There is no one single modality that will do everything for you. It’s far more valuable to be good at everything then it is to be great at one thing.
So, this is what I do personally with regards to isolation and compound exercises.
The first part of my workout is my warm-up. During the warm-up I’m doing isolation exercises but at a very low intensity.
The next part of my warm-up is integration exercises that are a little bit more compound in nature, Such as inchworm, bear crawl, etc. Exercises that are forcing me to use my entire body, and specifically my core.
The next part of my workout I go more towards the “compound“ exercises such as squats and deadlifts.
The end of my workout will be higher intensity isolation where I’m pretty much aiming toward muscle failure.
At the end I will typically do some type a full body integration again, this time with a higher intensity, such as jump rope or sprints.
That’s it. That’s how I integrate isolation and compound exercises, specifically in regards to weightlifting.
Now, should I dance more? Do more yoga? Take a martial arts class? Probably. Variety is not only the spice of life, but it’s what the body needs to continually adopt to higher levels of ability.
What do you think? Do you agree with my exercise sequence? What is your work out look like?
I hope you enjoy this blog post. Thanks for waiting until the end. If you have any specific questions about fitness, health, healthy habits, let me know. I’d be happy to answer them.