Like most teenagers who know nothing about putting on muscle, when I first started working out at the gym I didn't do one compound exercises. Unsurprisingly - I also didn't see any real results besides being able to "curl well". Why? Because isolation exercises just don't cut it if you want to put on muscle quickly and efficiently.

Why Compound Exercises Are the Solution

Originally, isolation exercises and 6 hours at the gym were the workouts that were in. But in the last 30 years, power lifters like Mark Rippetoe have come along and said - "Hey, you don't need to spend 35 hours in the gym a week. You just need to do a few compound lifts and eat a lot to get ridiculously strong."

And you know what the best part is? He was right, and it worked for thousands of people.

An example of a few compound exercises

Here are the main lifts you need to be doing that will target all your muscle groups and not just one muscle group in isolation:

1. The squat. This is one of the exercises that is great for your entire lower body and is one of the ultimate lower body "mass builders." There are a lot of variations of the squat, including the front squat, the back squat, etc. Ultimately, the most important thing is to make sure you have proper form when doing any of these exercises.

2. The bench press. A great upper body workout. This targets the chest, shoulders, triceps and forearms (which all exercises target).

3. The deadlift. The ultimate test of real world strength, this targets the entire body including the back.

So are isolation exercises useless

So are isolation exercises useless? The short answer is no. There is a reason for them, including correcting muscle imbalances and helping to compliment your compound lifts. The issue is really time.

If the choice is isolation or compound, 9 out of 10 times I say go with compound. But otherwise, you should find some room in your routine to add some isolation exercises to compliment your lifts. It might very well help avoid injuries in the future.

In summary...

Ultimately, both isolation and compound movements provide benefits to putting on muscle, and doing both together is the best way to get huge gains.

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