So, why are compound lifts so important?
They allow us to expend more energy, lift more load, and essentially build more muscle and strength, leading to a stronger, more athletic and reliable physique.
It's extremely important that while we are at our freshest, early in the workout, we should be performing these BIG lifts, that essentially build the foundation of our training and require the most energy and focus. Failing to perform the bigger compound lifts when we are under the least amount of mental and physical fatigue, can significantly increase the risk of injury.
Examples of compound exercises
- Overhead presses
- Pull ups/downs
- Step ups
Where do the isolation lifts come into play?
Although compound exercises make up the base of the cake, the isolation/accessory exercises are still necessary to build a strong, reliable and well-rounded physique (not to mention the delicious icing on the cake).
Examples of isolation exercises
- Bicep curls
- Tricep extensions
- Leg extensions
- Hamstring curls
- Calf raises
- Lateral raises
How should you structure your workout?
There are many factors that come into play when planning a training program, but as a general rule of thumb, aim to place 2-4 compound movements at the beginning of the session, saving the isolation exercises for the back end.
Example for an upper body push day:
1. Barbell bench press 4 x 8
2. Barbell shoulder press 4 x 8
3. Incline dumbbell chest press 3 x 10
4A. Cable chest fly 3 x 15
4B. Dumbbell lateral raises 3 x 15
5. Cable rope tricep push downs 4 x 15
In summary, prioritise what's most important, and then utilise isolation movements to help bring up weak points, increase overall training volume and for your own enjoyment which is extremely important.