When it comes to getting the ideal summer body, it can be a little difficult to know where to start if you have only been lifting casually or are new to exercising. There’s dieting, weights, cardio and so much more that are thrown into the mix before time can do the rest. In the process of workouts specifically, many tend to be either lost or misinformed about the role of compound exercises in muscle definition. The basics of weight training for toning are to increase your reps and decrease the weight so that the muscle begins to show. How important are compound exercises for muscle definition? Are isolated exercises the only thing needed?
History Of Compound Exercises
Compound exercises are known for covering multiple muscle groups at once, making it at least the most time-efficient and versatile out of both weight lifting options. Additionally, the intensity does add other benefits such as burning more calories, improving muscular coordination, and gaining muscle mass and strength. Compound exercises are essential for bodybuilding, powerlifting, and numerous sports like basketball, rugby, wrestling, and many more.
Compound exercises, in essence, is the first method of weight lifting due to how little is needed to execute, and straightforward technique. While compound exercises have a higher risk of injury, having proper form is easily trainable; starting with lower weights while getting the technique right is critical in order to successfully mark your progress every session.
Bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups and push-ups are some of the earliest concepts of compound exercises that can tackle the back, shoulders, arms, and chest all at the same time.
Why Are Isolation Exercises Important?
As the name suggests, isolation exercises target a particular muscle group and it usually is usually used to complement compound routines that usually take a lot more practice to get the form right. Bodybuilding is the niche that is built on understanding isolation exercises perfectly in order to sculpt the body - which equates to muscle definition.
Certain specific muscle groups require more attention as compound exercises will not have a direct effect on them due to it only being a secondary source of strength. Front, rear deltoids, treps, lats and so many muscle groups are essential to sculpt in order to alter the silhouette of your body for the most obvious sign of definition.
Isolation exercises are also good to build overall muscle size and it is common for many gym practitioners to rotate between machines and dumbbells to ensure that every muscle group is paid attention to. Though it is not wrong to do so, it is definitely backed up by compound exercises so that the same muscle group can truly be used to the point of exhaustion, leading to muscle hypertrophy.
The reason why size is being mentioned is that definition is normally more pronounced when size is looked at first. Whether one is overweight or underweight, muscles need to be engaged first and experience hypertrophy before going through the definition phase. It is possible to go straight to definition if you have a low body fat count, but being too lean may not meet the universal standard of what is considered “cut”. There is nothing wrong with it if lean is the look you are going for.
Can Compound Exercises Fit In?
Although isolation exercises are the key to attain muscle definition, they are commonly complemented by compound exercises. The latter’s ability to cover multiple groups at once makes it so that no muscle is left disengaged. Even though this does not correlate to definition immediately, having increased strength, an understanding of technique, and enhancing blood flow are all huge bonuses that are not to be overlooked.
For definition, isolation exercises should be the primary emphasis as it is more conducive to commit to high reps with lower weights. This is the basic makeup of most isolation exercises and is crucial for getting definitions. Because smaller muscle groups are primarily targeted, it takes a lot less weight to ensure that you properly exhaust your muscles as much as possible before hypertrophy.
Emulating this with compound exercises will pose a challenge if you choose to adopt this tactic as reducing the weight of your exercises will only allow primary and secondary muscle groups to disperse a miserable, non-impactful amount of force. Not only will this waste your time, but it defeats the purpose of compound exercises, to begin with.
Compound Exercises for Definition
Out of all the major muscle groups, the chest has possibly the smallest selection of exercises out of the lot, but that just makes things easier for you. Incline press, decline press, and flies are basic isolation exercises that can be used to shape up the different parts of your chest, but the bench press activates most muscles in that area and is reliable for at least warming up before heading for the dumbbells and machines.
The shoulder can be one of the most daunting major muscles to define as there are so many minor muscle groups that require different techniques for individual exercises. Shrugs bare very little similarities to front raises for example, and working on one does not translate to even remotely engaging the other. Shoulder or Military press is a good compromise that engages deltoids and traps simultaneously while forcing you to maintain the perfect technique required for the other exercises.
Legs literally occupy half of your body, which means that the very act of doing squats will save you a few exercises. Hamstrings, glutes, and calves are the big three that benefit from proper squats and are easy to follow up with after a few sets. Machines are more commonly used; leg press, calf raises, and leg curls are common follow-ups to squats and will certainly benefit from being engaged beforehand.