Not all exercises are created equal...sure, you knew that!
But in your quest to build some serious muscle, you'll need to fire
up as many muscle fiibers as possible to stimulate the kind of
deep growth you're looking for. And for this mission, you have a strong
ally in compound exercises.
Compound vs. Isolation Exercises
First some quick clarification...compound exercises move the body through
more than one joint movement, while isolation exercises only move the body
through a single-joint movement.
Probably the best exercise to demonstrate the difference is the barbell squat.
This "king" of all compound exercises moves your body using a majority of
your muscle groups and bends you at your ankles, knees, waist, hips, and
to some degree, even your shoulders.
Compare this to an isolation exercise such as leg entensions, which only
moves your body by bending one joint...the knee.
So which is better?
To provide complete muscle fiber stimulation, you should take advantage
of the benefits of both types of exercises. However, if you're main goal is
to build muscle, you should use compound exercises as the main focul
point of your weight training program and bring in complimentary
isolation exercises to supplement the "big movers".
Compound exercises allow you to lift heavier weights and work
more muscle groups at the same time than isolation exercises. This saves
you precious time in the gym while stimulating the maximum amount of muscle fibers.
In addition, compound exercises, due to the increased amount of muscle used
for the movements, are better at sending your endocrine system a "distress call"
to pump out more anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone.
Here's a list of the most powerful mass-building compound exercises to build
into the core of your bodybuilding program:
Body Part Associated Compound Exercises
Shoulders: Military Press, Hang Clean and Press, Arnold Press