Should You Do Compound or Isolation Exercises First? And why?

compound or isolation exercises first
When you exercise, it is important to do so in a way that gets the best results. You may be wondering if you should start by doing compound exercises or isolation exercises first? Compound exercises involve multiple muscles and joints working together, whereas isolation exercises target one single muscle at a time. Although there are several debates about which type of exercise should be completed first, both can help give great results when done correctly.

What are compound exercises and why are they important?

man doing a compound exercise called squats on a smith machine in the gym

Compound exercises are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. They are important because they help to build strength and muscle mass quickly, and are a great way to get a full-body workout.

Compound exercises are also very special because most of them needs a balance. That balance can cause other muscles to activate while performing the exercise. For example you active your abs with squats to keep a good balance.

Some examples of compound exercises include:

What are isolation exercises and why are they important?

man doing dumbbell bicep curls with no shirt on

Isolation exercises are activities that only focus on one muscle group. They are important because they help build muscles that are strong and look good. And you can zone in on particular muscles with them.

The cool thing about these exercises is when you do a few sets, the muscle you’re working on often feels tight and full of energy! For example, doing lighter arm extensions can give your triceps a pump feeling after just couple sets!

Some examples of isolation exercises include:

  • Bicep curls
  • Tricep extensions
  • Leg raises
  • Crunches
  • Sit-ups
  • Shoulder presses

Most important thing to start your exercising session with

The most important thing to do when starting a workout session is to warm up. Warming up helps to increase blood flow to the muscles, and can help to prevent injuries. A good warm-up should include some light cardio, stretching or a light weight set before you start the actual exercise.

Also make sure to hydrate yourself before the work-out this can help you prevent muscle cramps and injuries.

Benefits and of doing compound exercises first

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Good for your overall fitness

Compound exercises are great for building strength, aerobic fitness and endurance because they engage multiple major muscle groups at once.

Major muscles

Doing compound exercises first in a workout helps you to focus on the big muscles and movements which can help improve coordination, posture and overall balance of movement.


Performing compound exercises first helps to stimulate hormones in the body responsible for facilitating fat loss by making your body work harder over a short space of time compared with isolating individual muscles with single joint exercise movements as you would do later in your workouts/sessions.

More energy

Doing compounds lifts before other isolation or accessory work gives us an extra level of safety. When performing these movements earlier on while we’re fresh since good form is essential. This is always the case when doing any kind of strength training exercise.

Then it becomes more challenging to perform those same lifts later on after fatigue has set in from all the other smaller muscle isolations performed during our session!

Drawbacks of doing compound exercises first

The problem with doing compound exercises first is that you could get hurt if you try to use too much weight. Your form may not be good enough if the weights are too heavy and this can cause an injury. This injury will stop your workout until it heals, so try to pick a weight that’s just right for your body.

Benefits of doing isolation exercises first

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Muscle strength

Isolation exercises are important to help build strength in certain muscles. This can be very beneficial when you are trying to improve some personal records but barely fail them.

Focused muscle

Doing these types of exercises first can be beneficial because they allow you to work on a specific muscle group at a time, increasing your focus on it while avoiding taxing other muscles that may not need as much attention yet.

Less stress

By doing isolation exercises first, you will also be able to maximize the amount of stress put onto the target muscle group and get better results with fewer sets and reps due to greater intensity during the workout session itself.

Good warmup

Additionally, isolation exercises can be good warm-ups since they stimulate only one region of your body instead of placing strain on several parts simultaneously like compound movements do.

Drawbacks of doing isolation exercises first

When you do isolation exercises first, the bad things are: You can’t work as many muscles all at once, you can’t use as much weight and it will take longer. It happens because you’re just focusing on a few muscles instead of many which makes you have to do more exercise.

Does workout length really matter?

Exercising is not all about how long you do it. It’s also important to think about how hard you are pushing yourself. If you’re just starting out, don’t try to do too much too quickly or else you could hurt yourself.

As your body gets used to exercise, gradually increase the intensity of your session so that your body can slowly work up to more challenging activities without getting injured or tired out quickly. Even if you are an experienced athlete, it’s best to take breaks and listen when your body is telling you it needs rest.

The best way forward is by finding what works for YOU and sticking with that plan! Generally speaking, a good rule of thumb for exercising would be doing something for at least 50 minutes three times a week but ultimately, listen carefully to what’s right for YOU!

Final answer of compound or isolation exercises first?

The final answer to should you do compound exercises first is that it depends on your goals and exercise experience. If you are trying to build muscle mass and strength, doing compound exercises first can be beneficial. If you are a beginner you can better start with isolation exercises to get used to lower intensity.

Starting with isolation exercises makes sure that you can then put the compound exercises a bit towards the end of your workout session to get used to the form and intensity of the compound exercises.

Also with compound exercises you are focusing on muscles which are very hard to focus on with isolation exercises that are more specific targeted. Especially when it comes to core muscles like the abs for example.

However, if you are trying to focus on a specific muscle group or avoid injury, doing isolation exercises first may be a better option. You can do the compound later in your workout session but you have to realize that you won’t pull or push as much weight as if you started the workout session with the compound exercise(s).

Summary of should you do compound exercises first or isolation exercises?

Before you start your exercise routine, it’s important to warm up. That means doing some easy exercises like running in place or jogging and stretches. This will help you not get hurt and make sure you get the most out of your workout. After that, think about what kind of exercises you want to do – ones with a lot of different muscles at the same time (compound) or ones where just one muscle moves (isolation). If you want to build muscle mass, it may be good to do compound exercises first. But if your goal is to focus on one specific muscle group or stay safe from injury, then doing isolation exercises first might work better. For any type of exercise first thing’s most important is that your form is correct and use a weight that isn’t too hard for you yet!

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