What is really the best exercise in the gym?

Is it the wholly grail compound exercises?

Or can it be as simple as using isolation exercises?

I’m talking about building some muscle of course, which should be the goal whether you want to lose fat or bulk up.

If you are trying to lose fat and have no muscle, you will have an extremely tough time doing so.

This blog will delve deeper into what actually matters.

What’s the difference between compound and isolation?

Here’s my definition of what each is.

  •  Compound exercise.

A multijoint exercises that uses more than one muscle group.

Some examples are the bench press, main moving joints are the shoulder and elbow. The squat, main moving joints are hips and knees with the ankle coming into play also.

  • Isolation exercise.

A single joint exercise that isolates a specific muscle group.

Some examples are a leg extension with the knee joint being the axis point. A biceps curl will have the elbow being the main axis point.

I wont keep on listing, this blog isn’t to bore you, if you want to find out more about specific exercises then just message me by clicking here.

What actually matters?

To build muscle there’s a lot of things that actually make a difference. Have a look at this pyramid to get an idea

What is better, compound or isolation?

If you look at the pyramid then the first thing that actually matters is if you will actually be able to stick to training plan.

I could give you the perfect exercises but if you hate it, it doesn’t work for your lifestyle or you miss workouts, it doesn’t matter.

What actually matters is sticking to a program.

What’s best is something that is less perfect but you enjoy and put more effort into.

Rather than something perfect you don’t put any effort into and miss sessions.

The meat and bones.

Level 2 of the pyramid shows that you volume, intensity and frequency are all important together.

Think of the 3 of these things as the following

Volume; how much weight you lift in a set/workout

Intensity; how heavy that weight is that you lift

Frequency; how often per week you train that exercise or muscle group.

There you have it.

Follow this with progression and you will make gains in the gym, simple as that.

You can actually see that exercise selection is higher up and less important so why am I blogging about this?

Read on to find out more.

Now you know a little bit more about what it takes, let me explain.

If you are lifting with a compound exercise you can lift more weight.

This makes sense as you are using more muscles and more joints as explained above.

Get it?

So, opposite to that, an isolation exercise, you wont be able to lift as much and this will reduce the volume, intensity and frequency number.

If you go one up, you can still progress an isolation exercise but that is less relevant than actual load lifted.

Starting to sum it all up.

As you can see, progression and total weight is key to making forward moves in the gym.

You now know that the best way to get more weight lifted is to use a compound exercise.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t progress isolation moments but you do have to do more of them to build significantly more muscle mass.

It ultimately comes down to preference.

You can isolate a weak muscle group by doing more direct work on it combined with big compound exercises.

This is a good approach as the isolation exercises help you have a direct stimulus of that muscle and that can help you overload it when doing compound exercises.

One final note is that if you don’t really feel a muscle working then it probably isn’t.

All of the above and the nutrition pyramid is useless without proper exercise technique.

If you find yourself still missing out on the muscle mass you desire, you have taken care of the above principles, then maybe it’s your exercise technique, tight muscles or imbalances.

Let’s leave that for another blog.

Here’s my advice.

If looking to build muscle, stick to mainly compound exercises, about 60%-80%, the rest can be isolation exercises, about 20-40%, depending on what you enjoy.

Remember, you have to enjoy it to stand a chance of sticking to it in the long term so do what works for you.

If you like this article then please share it, sharing is caring.

If you have any other questions about it then message me here.

Fabio Bonanno