Compound vs. Isolation Exercises: What’s the Difference?

Compound vs. Isolation Exercises: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to strength training, there is no “one size fits all approach.” As with all workouts, setting fitness routine goals varies from person to person. And even with a specific goal in mind, there are many options to get you there. Today we’re diving into all things compound vs. isolation exercise so that you can best assess your fitness goals and choose the right workouts for your personal needs. 

All strength training exercises can be categorized as either compound or isolation movement exercises. Both have their benefits and drawbacks, so having a solid understanding of these pros and cons can help you decide which is best for your fitness and strength goals. 

Compound Exercises vs. Isolation Exercises

What are compound exercises?

Compound exercises are strength-training movements that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. People often refer to compound exercises as functional exercises because they replicate real-world movements. Lifting a heavy storage box in your garage, for instance, is a real-life example of a compound exercise. You’re engaging arm, shoulder, glute, and core muscle groups, rather than isolating one specific muscle group. 

What are isolation exercises?

Isolation exercises, on the other hand, specifically target one muscle group at a time. While there are some real-life applications of isolation exercise—like lifting a drink to sip on at the dinner table—the purpose of isolation exercises is to narrow in on one muscle group without influencing any other muscle or body part. 

When Is It Best To Do Isolation Workouts vs. Compound Workouts? 

The benefit of isolation workouts is that you can strengthen one muscle group without strengthening the rest of your body. This is useful when one muscle is weaker than the rest. 

People recovering from an injury often turn to isolation workouts to regain their strength in whatever was injured. For example, someone who breaks their ankle and is on crutches for a month has plenty of muscle in one leg and lacks a month’s worth of movement and strength training in the other. Regaining strength in their weaker leg helps restore balance within the body and prevents overcompensation of other muscles, potentially leading to further injury. 

Isolation exercises are also popular among bodybuilders because they allow you to grow specific muscles and have more control over aesthetics. So if your fitness journey has a visual ideal in mind, isolation exercises may help support some of your goals. 

With isolation exercise, it’s important to be cautious of your effort not to strengthen one muscle group and create a new muscle imbalance. Always check in with your whole body to make sure everything feels aligned, safe, and healthy.

If you’re healthy and want to work on strengthening your entire body efficiently, compound workouts are the way to go. Compound workouts are like pressing fast-forward because they speed up your progress and help you achieve your fitness goals faster. You can split your time in half at the gym if you do completely compound movements because you’re checking off multiple muscle groups at the same time. 

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong time to do isolation exercises—it all depends on your personal fitness goals.

Compound Exercises vs. Isolation Exercises

Looking for some inspiration? Below is a list of easy compound and isolation workouts to get you started.

Compound exercise examples:

Exercise Muscle group
Pull-ups Arms, core, back
Lunges Glutes, quads, core
Squats Glutes, core, quads

Isolation exercise examples: 

ExerciseWorkout Muscle group
Calf raises Lower legs
Bicep curls Arms
Sit-ups Core

Where Is the Best Place to Do Compound and Isolation Exercises? 

Strength training can be done both at home and in the gym. Find a Chuze near you or on our virtual fitness platform iChuze Fitness and level up your workout routine in our state-of-the-art facilities. As mentioned above, compound exercises are functional, so you often do compound exercises even when you aren’t working out! Isolation moves require a bit more intention and focus but also can easily be done from anywhere. 

Gyms can be useful if you’re new to strength training. With fitness equipment available to members, working a specific muscle group requires less thought because the machines are designed to isolate specific areas of the body.

No matter where you are, though, knowledge is power. Knowing the benefits of isolation exercises compared to compound exercises can help you decide which exercises are best for your fitness goals.

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Returning To The Gym Post-Pandemic

Returning To The Gym Post-Pandemic
By Aly Gandarilla

I had not stepped into a gym in over a year and was super hesitant about getting back into a group workout setting. Funny enough, the pandemic left me focusing on my health and fitness more than ever. It was the only way I was really able to escape in the comfort of my own home. I relied on platforms like iChuze Fitness to get in a home workout and I started to realize all of the physical and emotional benefits that came with working out on a daily basis. My mood was better, I felt less stressed, and I started to see the physical changes, too! 

 When California announced gyms were going to be opening up again, I was anxious, nervous, and excited. Part of me wanted to rush back to the gym and take advantage of all of that energy I built up over the past year. On the other hand, I wasn’t sure what safety precautions would take place at the gym or if people would be respectful of each other’s boundaries.

Before the world shut down in early 2020, I took a couple of Body Pump classes at Chuze Fitness and knew I wanted to try it out again. I love working out in a group environment because it really pushes you to challenge yourself in a place where everyone else is trying to do the same thing. The kids had already started begging me to go back to the gym too, just so that they could take advantage of the Kids Club while I got a workout in.

What I love about Chuze Fitness is that it feels like a country club, but only costs the same as a couple of lattes. Chuze is a non-intimidating gym and when I finally decided to return a few weeks ago after a year hiatus, their staff was happy to show me around and let me know about their latest safety measures.

Safety Measures

Chuze has antibacterial stations located throughout the gym, fully stocked with hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes, which made me feel more comfortable when I returned.

 I also paid special attention to the social distancing guidelines. With signs located around the entire gym asking people to respect others’ space, I noticed everyone was following them. Everyone at the gym was doing their part too. I didn’t see one person leave a piece of equipment before sanitizing it for the next person to use. That alone made me feel so comfortable in my decision to return to the gym.

Chuze Fitness is open at 100% capacity and truly provides the friendliest and cleanest gym experience.

A Gym for Everyone 

No matter what your fitness goals are, you can pretty much find everything you need at Chuze. My personal favorite is the Chuze Cinema- a quiet and dark place to get your cardio in while watching a movie. I tried it out for the first-time last week and have gone three times since, it’s such a fun way to get lost in your workout and you really do lose track of time (win-win)! I also love that Chuze offers various group classes and has quite the selection to choose from on a daily basis. From yoga, to cycling, to team training and more, they really provide it all without having to break the bank. I peeked in during a team training class the other day and the energy in the room was unreal!

I have the More Membership, which basically costs less than a dinner night out, and includes access to everything I shared above, plus more amenities like the HydroMassage chairs, infrared saunas, and a steam room. The membership even gives me unlimited guest privileges so I can take my husband with me at no additional charge. How cool is that?

If you have kids, you’ll want to take advantage of the Kids Club. They do temperature checks and mask-wearing to keep the kids safe, which I love. The girls always come out with some kind of craft or project that they worked on while I was working out.

Making a Commitment to Myself

Now that I am comfortable with going back to the gym again, I am making it a commitment to myself to get to the gym at least twice a week. Every time I leave the gym, I feel better than ever. I’ve been trying out something new each time and I’m really enjoying challenging myself. My goal this year is to try out more group classes, take advantage of the state-of-the-art equipment, and continue to focus on my mental and physical health.

Let’s be virtual gym buddies and keep each other accountable! You can try out Chuze Fitness for 7-days with their free 7-day pass! 

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