Whats the difference in strength training anyway

Compound Movements

To withstand the test of time i.e the number of physiological functions that decline over time; arthritis, type 2 diabetes, bone density and sarcopenia. In order to increase our balance and increase our reaction time we need to increase our strength.

We need a strong foundation that can withstand our aging process, defend us against disease and just plain feel better with less pain. Strengthening our muscles allows us to continue movements that are critical for out happiness.

Build your strength using exercises that involve multiple joint movements. Compound movements as they are known, are the strength training movements we associate with Olympic lifting and power lifting. A compound movement can be defined as: any exercise that engages two or more different joints to fully stimulate entire muscle groups and multiple muscles. These fitness programs are targeted towards improving functional fitness, which refers to exercise that simulates real-life activities and uses a wide variety of movements through a wide range of motion. Some compound exercise are the squat, the dead lift, the lunge, the push up, and pull ups. If you are not familiar get proper instruction before attempting them on your own. The squat exercise engages many muscles in the lower body and core, including the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the calves, the glutes, and lower back musculature.

Using more muscle groups:

1. Equals more calories burned during exercise. 2. Closely mimics real-world movements i.e. activities of daily living. 3. Improves coordination, reaction time and balance. 4. Improves joint stability and improves muscle balance across a joint. 5. Decreases the risk of injury in sports and recreational activities. 6. Keeps your heart rate up and provides cardiovascular benefits. 7. Allows you to exercise longer with less muscle fatigue. 8. Allows you to lift heavier loads and build more strength.

Why Use Isolation Exercises?

Isolation exercises are often recommended to correct muscle imbalance or weakness that often occurs after an injury. Isolating a specific muscle is sometimes necessary to get it to activate and increase its strength. Often, after an injury, a muscle becomes weak and other muscles compensate for that weakness. If you never retrain the injured muscles to fire properly again, it may set up a bio mechanical imbalance that is difficult to correct.

Even if your weakness isn't noticeable because other muscles are compensating, imagine how much stronger you would be if all the muscles were firing at maximum contraction. That alone is a good reason to occasionally do isolation exercises.

Another reason to perform specific isolated exercises is to increase the size or bulk of a specific muscle group. If you want big biceps for your spring break beach vacation, you'll probably want to add some bicep isolation work to your regular exercise routine.

Most healthy athletes will use compound exercises for the majority of a training program and use isolation exercises to complement that program as needed.

Examples of Isolation Exercises:

  • bicep curls

  • triceps kickbacks

  • lateral raises

  • front raises

  • rope pull-downs

  • leg extensions

  • hamstring curls

  • calf raises

The Bottom Line

If you are interested in getting a complete, efficient and functional workout, doing predominantly compound exercises during your training is ideal. But there are times when isolating a specific muscle, muscle group or joint is necessary and recommended. If you aren't sure what is best for you, a personal trainer or athletic trainer can help locate any muscle imbalance or weakness you may have and design a program to fit your needs.

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