Talking to bodybuilders and athletes we so often hear the debate about compound vs isolation exercises brought up.

Many experienced bodybuilders swear on their lives that isolation exercises for separate muscles are the only way to fly, while many coaches suggest compound exercises, especially for the less experienced and less pumped guys.

We decided to do some digging and try to figure out which is actually better, compound exercises or isolation exercises, and find actual reasons why.

Compound Exercises

Compound exercises are those that simultaneously train more than one of your muscle groups. For instance a press-up is a compound exercise as it will simultaneously work your chest, shoulders and triceps, while also having impact on your arm muscles.

Compound exercises usually involve long motions such as pulling or pushing and depending which extremity you use to move the weight around, you will be training either your lower, core or your upper body as a whole, or multiple muscles in those areas.

Isolation Exercises

Contrary to the compound exercises, isolation exercises are aimed only at one single muscle group such as biceps, chest, quads of hamstrings. A typical and often used isolation exercise is the bicep curl which only trains a single muscle group, the biceps.

Practically all curls, raises and extensions you see people doing at the gym are isolation exercises. These are very often used by the veteran bodybuilders who use weights instead of machines for their exercises, often allowing them to isolate their particular muscle groups better.

Which Is Better?

Despite what anyone might say, we personally believe compound exercises are the better way to go for the most part. For starters, they will allow you to train multiple muscle groups at once and they will allow you to lift much bigger loads as multiple muscles will be involved in the lifting. You will always see faster and more consistent growth with compound than with isolation.

But, this is not to say the isolation exercises don’t work. On the contrary; they are an excellent tool to be used in some specific scenarios. But us calisthenics guys are already ripped to shreds and strong all over, so we don’t really need to go there.


When it comes to the battle of compound vs isolation exercises, everyone has a theory. Some will tell you that you can’t get a defined and lean look to your muscles without using isolation exercises, while others theorize that compounds are only for slackers who don’t want to strain their particular muscles, and will never see any progress.

All of these theories are simply wrong and many famous athletes use only compound exercises for the majority of their workouts. You too should focus the vast majority of your efforts on compound exercises and leave the isolation ones unless you believe they are absolutely required.

We hope this helps debunk some of the myths floating around about the superiority of isolation exercises and that you will take our tip and use compounds as a basis for your workout plans.

Yoast Title: Compound Or Isolation Exercises – Which Are Better?

Yoast Description: The battle of compound exercises vs isolation exercises has been a raging question for many years and we set out to find out which type you should devote your workouts to.