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Compound Vs. Isolated Movement

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

You may have heard the terms compound movement and isolated movement....but what does that really mean?

Benefits of Compound and Isolated Movements and When to Use Them

I'm sure you all are racking your brain on whether or not this little fuzz butt is doing a compound or an isolated movement. By the end of this, you will be a pro on each type of movement and will be able to quickly identify what this corgi is up to.

I'll reveal the actual answer at the end. :)

Compound Movement: Exercise that works more than one muscle/ group Isolated Movement: Exercise that works one muscle/ group **If more than one joint is moving during the exercise, it is safe to say that movement is compound. If only one joint is moving, it is an isolated movement.** Main Muscles Groups: Shoulders, Back, Pecs, Biceps, Triceps, Abs, Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings, Calves Compound Movements These are movements that target more than one muscle group.

Because of this fact, these are the most common movements in training programs.


  • Allows you to target more muscles in less time

  • Raises heart rate quickly

  • Burns more calories

  • Works muscles in common movement patterns

  • Generally recommended for all training levels

Examples of Exercises:

  • The Big 3 (Squat, Bench, Deadlift)

  • Pull-up

  • Push-up

  • Overhead Press

  • Lunges

Compound movements can be programmed into any training program for any goal type. These movements help beginners establish good posture and form when starting out. These movements also help professional athletes establish power to utilize during their game play. They are for everyone. Reaching your goals with these movements will depend on you adjust the reps, sets, and intensity for the exercise.

Isolated Movements

Isolated movements target one muscle or muscle group.


  • Allows for muscle isolation when retraining a movement pattern

  • Used to increase muscle strength after an injury

  • Corrects muscle imbalances by strengthening specific groups

  • Increases size of muscle

Examples of Exercises:

  • Lateral Raises

  • Leg Extensions

  • Hamstring Curls

  • Bicep Curls

  • Tricep Kickbacks

Isolated movements can be used when you have a muscle imbalance or your movement pattern is altered. Being able to strengthen that muscle individually will allow you to increase your performance when using compound exercises. These movements can also be used for hypertrophy, or how your muscles look. Want to have big ass biceps? Do bicep curls! Looking for thick thighs? Hit those leg extensions! Integrating isolated movements can be a way to compliment your compound exercises. Final Thoughts:

Building your own training program can be confusing and a little overwhelming, so don't feel pressed to do so. If you are just looking for a well rounded workout, compound movements are the route to go. As you learn more about your body, and how it reacts to these movements, you can add in those isolated moves. As always, my inbox is open. I'd love to talk through your goals and point you in the right direction. To you, my Maiden Friends! - Coach CoJo P.S. The corgi is doing a lateral leg lift. This is considered an isolated exercise, as it targets his fuzz butt muscles.

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