When trying to get a lean physique, which do you think would work best, a bunch of bicep curls, or some pull ups? Calf raises, or squats?
It all depends on what your personal goals are but if you are trying to bust those arms out of your t-shirt for aesthetic reasons then fine, go for bicep curls and other exercises that concentrate on that one particular muscle. If you do want to slim down and burn a bit of excess fat, full body, functional compound movements are the way to go.
Doing an exercise like a squat for example, uses so much more energy and uses more muscle fibres than going on a leg curl machine. For starters, you are standing up rather than sitting at a machine, so your core muscles are holding you upright, they are engaged, do you think they are when surrounded by comfortable padded seating? No.
What about your glutes, calves, hamstrings, back, shoulders, chest? They are all inactive whilst you tirelessly go through your leg curls, meanwhile your quads are burning with lactic acid and you feel as if you are having a good session.
Just because you feel a pump doesn’t necessarily mean your having an awesome workout. All the time your spending on one group of muscles by doing isolation work could be made more efficient by hitting many more muscles at once, therefore burning more energy, (calories), in less time.
This would mean performing 3, maybe 4 exercises per workout, getting in and getting out.
Your heart rate will rise and bone and lean tissue density will increase. This all cooks up to losing more fat in less time, does that not sound good in this modern fast paced world we live in!
With compound movements the muscle is broken down sufficiently, and if your nutrition and rest is good, the correct hormones are then released to improve your body’s anabolic environment, preparing it for growth, and/or repair. This also gives you more time to spend on other things, whether you want to do some more flexibility or mobility work.
I’m not saying that tricep kickbacks and ab crunches are a no go, or that they don’t contribute, what I am saying is that they are not as efficient as compound movements when it comes to weight loss. You certainly get more done in less time, however if you’re enjoying doing other stuff in the gym and it keeps you motivated, who am I to argue.
The best most efficient workout plans have compound exercises as there base.