I think that is a better way to think about it. As far as I know, the definitions of compound and isolation movements have been around for a very long time. We aren't making up anything new here.
Originally Posted by RichMahogany
I think the main comparison I was getting at was that many people recommend only a few basic movements, claiming that isolation exercises are nearly useless. Truthfully, such certainly would be good food for thought for a newbie that only knows benching and curls. It also might be good food for thought for someone who is strapped for time. Clearly there are other situations/examples where a simplified routine would be best.
But my question is, how far is too far and for what purpose? Cossfitters say they want to be good at everything, but my bet is that most of them have skinny weak calves because they don't do any direct calf work. Martin Derkhan and Drew Baye both say don't bother with direct ab work, but put two lean twins on the same exact program and diet except one adds in direct ab work while the other doesn't, and it shouldn't take a genius to guess who will probably have the better abs.
You definitely can build an incredible body with a very basic program. I've done it. For example, if you had a guy do nothing but squats, bench press, and cleans, work really hard at them, and then diet to shed the fat, he'll have a body that's better than perhaps 90% of the population. Why? It's simple. Because he'll be both strong and lean and most people can't do that because they simply don't know how. Sure, he might have a few muscles that are lagging, but for the most part most of his muscles will be big and strong, and he'll look good because he's lean.
I think I was getting a bit off topic there. But I'm just saying, on the other hand, if you had the time, there's certainly nothing wrong with throwing in a few isolation exercises. Personally I don't like to bother with them while cutting, because in such a case my main aim is simplicity, hard work on basics, and diet, and that works. But in my regular strength training, I know it helps, even just a few exercises. Calves I know for sure is one muscle that responds well to isolation exercises, that which only requires a few sets per week, which could only take a few minutes. If I don't include any calf work at all, they shrink over time.
Many ways of training can make you stronger, here some compound incline dumbell curls:
But take a look at big fat guys, they nearly all have huge calves just from walking around steadily carrying their bulk. Also think about strongmen competitors, most of them also do no calf isolation work but also have huge calves from doing heavy farmers walks etc. I doubt many of those perform any direct calf work.
Originally Posted by Ripped
Last edited by OldSchhool; 10-16-2013 at 11:01 AM.
I think so too. But I can just comment based on my own experience. Calves have always responded well for me, even when only doing say 5 hard sets per week. I stopped training them directly (most of the time) several years ago due to an injury. I do believe my calves got smaller ever since, even though I've competed in powerlifting and strongman and continued to stay strong for years. They didn't get too small though, just a little bit. In later years I noticed when I tried, they showed a noticeable difference even when I only did one hard set every 2 weeks.
Originally Posted by OldSchhool
Along the lines of what you are saying, I'll note an interesting experience I had several years ago. I had some problems with my shoulder, so I gave up benching for about a year if I recall correctly. Instead, I worked military presses, that which I hadn't previously worked as hard on. Then one day I went to the gym and decided to try to max out on bench presses just to see how much I could do. Mind you I hadn't benched in probably a year. I ended up benching about 25 lbs more than I ever did in my life.
My lesson learnt from that one is that your body truly does work together as a whole. With bench presses, you won't be able to isolate your chest from your shoulders. And with military presses you won't be able to isolate your shoulders from your chest. In such cases, one muscle gets worked better, but it still involves the other muscle to a significant extent.
Speaking of that, I remember someone asking Jesse Marunde (2nd place in worlds strongest man) how much he benched. He claimed that he never did bench presses because it wasn't necessary for strongman. But he believed if he tried he might be able to bench 700 lbs. With him weighing 300 lbs with abs showing, it wouldn't surprise me.
Anyways, it's clear that overall, compound exercises and basics are king when it comes to overall mass. There are certain exercises that I would never bother to do at all. No leg curls, leg extensions, or leg presses. For isolations to be specific, I might on great occasion do calf work, tricep work, bicep work, or neck extensions, but that's about it. I wouldn't even bother with shrugs because traps get worked well enough from deadlifts, cleans, high pulls, and/or farmers walk; any of those exercises make my traps very sore.