Difference Between Compound vs Isolation Exercises
Difference Between Compound vs Isolation Exercises

Generally speaking, bodybuilding exercises can be broken down into two categories – isolation and compound movements. As the name suggests, isolation exercises tend to only work one muscle group. They involve just one joint. Isolation exercises make great warm-up, finishing, and pre-contest exercise, but they are close to useless for increasing strength and size.

Compound exercises, on the other hand, involve movement around two or more joints and stimulate more than one muscle group at a time. Compound exercises allow you to lift considerably more weight than isolation movements and are thus more effective for building muscle strength and size. For example, while dumbbell flyes work the chest, dumbbell or barbell presses work the chest, shoulders, and triceps. Likewise, squats and leg presses do a far better job of building your thigh muscles than leg extensions.

The exercises I have chosen are all compound exercises. They are among the best for beginning bodybuilders who are trying to lay down a solid strength and size foundation. In time you will add isolation exercises to your routine to help refine the new muscle mass.

Not counting getting changed and bathroom breaks, your workout should last no more than 45 to 60 minutes. If you must chat and socialize, try to limit it to one or two minutes. Better yet, leave it until after your workout. However, much of what you’ll learn about bodybuilding will be from more experienced bodybuilders. By all means strike up conversations with these individuals. The solution to a problem you have may be standing a few feet away at the gym. Just remember that the majority of your time in the gym should be spent training – not talking.

To bulk up or not to bulk up – that is the question! If you are under 40 years old you may 200never have heard of this term! It’s seldom used today, but there was a time when “bulking up” was one of the most common terms in bodybuilding. Bulking up meant to eat everything in sight and train very heavy, all in an effort to gain as much weight and size as possible. If a bodybuilder wanted to weigh 200 pounds in contest shape, he would “bulk up” to 240 or 250 pounds during the off-season and then, about three months before the contest, try to diet the excess fat off. Unfortunately, much of the weight gained in the off-season would be fat rather than muscle. Shedding the excess fat was difficult and the frequent large changes in overall body size often left the individual with stretched and loose skin.

Bulking up was all the rage in the ’60s and ’70s, but with the ultra-ripped look that began to emerge in the late ’70s and early ’80s, most bodybuilders abandoned the practice. Obtaining this newly defined, cut look is almost impossible if you have 30 or 40 pounds to lose. In addition, since guest posing and advertising contracts are their main means of support, many bodybuilders need to be within 10 to 15 pounds of their competitive weight all year round.

So, does bulking up still have a place? Could it work for you? Well that depends on your somatotype. Endomorphs should not try to bulk up. They have enough problems trying to stay lean under normal circumstances. Mesomorphs may benefit from the practice, but why spend months of the year carrying excess body fat? You’ll probably have no trouble gaining muscle mass without fat, by simply eating properly. Besides, let’s not forget the health consequences of carrying extra body fat. In fact, before the fat starts accumulating on the outside of the body, it has already started forming around the internal organs. Unless you’re a mesomorph with ectomorph characteristics (i.e. very lean, with trouble gaining muscle mass) you should pass on bulking up. About the only group that might benefit from this practice is ectomorphs. Ectomorphs have to fight for every ounce of muscle they gain and the extra calories will help create muscle. Ultimately, the decision to try bulking up is yours. If you’re an ectomorph, go for it and see what happens.


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