In most training programmes, you will see both Compound (multi Joint) and Isolation (single joint) exercises. Which are more effective and why do most programmes include both?
“Multijoint exercises have been thought of as the most effective exercises for increasing total-body strength and power” (Kraemer et al. 2007)
“The present study suggests that, if one wants to improve body composition, an exercise program composed of either Single Joint or Multi Joint exercises may be of similar benefit. However, if the purpose is to improve general fitness, performing a resistance training program composed of Multi Joint exercises seems to bring better adaptations than Single Joint exercises alone.” (Paoli A et al. 2017)
Basically, prioritising compound movements will lead to the greatest overall athletic development and should be our priority in resistance training regardless of our goal.
Isolation exercises should be used as
“accessory’ or “supplementary’ exercises to aid the compound lifts by
addressing weak links & imbalances and for aesthetic
purposes if this is important to you. We would generally do our compound lifts first when we are fresher and move onto isolation exercises towards the end of the session as they will be less impacted by fatigue and are of less importance in the long run.
Kraemer, William J. & Fleck, Steven J. (2007). Optimizing Strength Training. Illinois: Human Kinetics, Inc.. p44.
Paoli A, Gentil P, Moro T, Marcolin G, and Bianco A (2017). Resistance Training with Single vs. Multi-joint Exercises at Equal Total Load Volume: Effects on Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Fitness, and Muscle Strength. Frontiers in Physiology. 8, 1105.