Exercises can be classified either as compound, which are exercises that involve more than one muscle group, or isolation exercises, which are exercises that isolate a muscle group by concentrating on that one group of muscles.For the most time-efficient workouts, compound exercises are recommended because compound exercises can stimulate all the major muscles in the body and create the greatest change in body composition in the shortest time. As an added bonus, compound exercises help develop the body proportionately.
Compound exercises are movements that use multiple joints at one time. When you perform compound exercises, more muscle groups are recruited and used per exercise. For example, POWER CLEAN AND PRESS is a multi-joint exercise because the shoulder and elbow, nee, and hip joints are working to execute the movement. In turn, the POWER CLEAN AND PRESS works several muscle groups, including the muscles in the, legs, cavs, glutes, chest, shoulders, and triceps.
On the other hand, the biceps curl is a single-joint exercise since only the elbow joint is moving. The biceps curl only works the biceps muscle and is more of an isolated exercise.
So, when you are looking for a quality workout that hits lots of muscles, compound exercises help you do more in less time. By working several muscle groups at the same time, you can perform fewer exercises and reduce the total amount of time you spend in the gym.
Compound exercises also increase strength and size far more effectively than single-joint, isolation exercises. This doesn't mean that single-joint exercises are ineffective. Exercises that isolate certain muscles and muscle groups do have an important role in fitness, especially for advanced lifters. However, if your schedule calls for reduced exercise time, compound exercises are the way to go. As an added bonus, they are more functional since virtually every movement in everyday activities, such as sitting or kneeling, and in sports like basketball or baseball, involve moving multiple joints.
Squats: Recognized mostly for building powerful thighs and hips, squats also add size to the upper body -- including the back, shoulders, chest, and arms -- due to their anabolic effect.
Deadlifts: The deadlift is another anabolic king because it not only increases lower body growth, but that of the upper body as well.
Leg Presses: These enable you to use heavier resistance than do leg extensions or curls, thus promoting more muscle growth. While three or more sets each of leg extensions and leg curls mainly work the quadriceps and hamstrings respectively, three or more heavy sets of leg presses or squats will strengthen and add more mass to the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteals -- in a shorter time frame!
Front, Side or Reverse Lunges and Stepups: These are also excellent time-saving multi-joint lower body exercises, and they are particularly more functional for sports and daily activities than leg extensions or leg curls.
Bench Presses, Dips and Pushups: When it comes to the upper body, bench presses, dips and pushups not only add mass to the chest, shoulders and back, but the triceps as well. In fact, they do it much more effectively than single-joint tricep pressdowns or kickbacks. Also, eliminate those single-joint dumbbell flyes for the chest for several weeks; these exercises will build up your chest muscles to a greater degree in less time.
Overhead Presses: Excellent for shoulders and triceps.
Pulldowns, Pullups, Barbell Rows, and Dumbbell Rows: You'll see your biceps grow without doing one curl; not to mention the added size of your back muscles from doing these exercises.
Upright Rows: They're also a bicep and forearm-building movement, as well as a wonderful shoulder and upper back exercise.