If you're like me, you're working on getting more cut up and ripped so you can proudly show off your body at the beach or pool or gym. The ideal workout program for losing fat should consist of two key components: adding muscle and burning fat.
A great way to add definition is to do Isolation Exercises. I mentioned in another post that Compound Exercises are the best for adding size (and they are the best overall). When it comes to targeting a specific muscle and sculpting your body, however, isolation movements are the go-to exercises.
Until you're big this is not necessary. In fact, for most people this is not necessary at all unless you're going to enter a bodybuilding competition or something. Isolation will certainly help you master specific muscles, but the compound ones just help you grow in total.
What Are Isolation Exercises?
An isolation exercise is any exercise in which only one major muscle group is trained by itself. Typically, the movement is done in such a way where usage of all other muscle groups is avoided, which leaves the targeted muscle isolated and able to do all of the work.
Here’s a list of the most common isolation exercises along with the muscle it isolates:
|flat, incline, or decline flyes (dumbbell, cable, or machine)||chest|
|lateral raises or front raises (dumbbell, cable, or machine)||shoulder|
|bicep curls (barbell, dumbbell, cable, or machine)||biceps|
|tricep extensions (barbell, dumbbell, cable, or machine)||triceps|
What Are Compound Exercises?
A compound exercise is any exercise that involves the use of more than one major muscle group at a time. Typically, there is one larger muscle group that ends up doing the majority of the work and one or more smaller muscle groups that are recruited secondarily.
Here’s a list of the most common compound exercises along with the primary and secondary muscle groups each one targets:
|Primary muscle||Secondary muscle|
|Flat, incline, decline bench press||chest||shoulder, triceps|
|Overhead shoulder press||shoulders||triceps|
|Dips (with forward lean)||chest, shoulders||triceps|
|Rows (barbell or machine)||back||biceps|
|Chin-ups, lat pull-downs||back||biceps|
|Deadlifts (many variations||posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, back, etc.||much of upper and lower body|
|Squats (many variations)||quads||much of lower body, back|
How to Incorporate Both Compound and Isolation Exercises
I want to present an analogy to describe what I believe to be a good approach to using both compound and isolation exercises.
The artists receive their block of clay or stone and decide to make a piece that depicts the human body. The first thing the artist does is decide on the overall shape and dimensions of the body. The artist then carves off large pieces to get the general shape of the body created. Once the general dimensions are determined, they begin to shape the body parts, focusing progressively on the finer details.
So the message in this story is that the artists create the sculpture by working out the largest aspects first and moving down to the details or finishing touches last.
So how does this apply to getting fit and building the physique you want?
Compound exercises relate to the overall shape of the body, whereas isolation exercises relate more to the finishing touches.
Compound Exercises are like the sledgehammer and Isolation Exercises are the chisel
I personally believe that the majority of your weight room exercises should be compound movements.
Compound exercises should be a major part of your program. In fact, I would say somewhere in the ballpark of 80% compound to 20% isolation is a good ratio. This is hands down the most effective workout program for losing fat and achieving optimal muscle definition.
For a comprehensive muscle building and fat loss strategy, be sure to check out The Simple Shredded Solution.