Compounds and Isolations: Friends or Enemies?
There's a lot of talk on the forums about the benefits of compound exercises, and rightly so. However, this has sometimes taken a turn into the idea that compounds are the only thing worth doing, and isolation exercises are somehow worthless. If that were true, then bodybuilders would long ago have figured out they were not necessary, and would be training like powerlifters.
What the knowledgeable guys were really saying is that the "core" of any good routine should be built around the basic compound exercises: Squats, Deads, Bench press, Overhead press, Barbell rows, etc. However, you will not develop a true "bodybuilder" physique without other selected exercises, including isolations. Not only that, but a true bodybuilder will use any tool in the toolbox, if it does the best job for them.
Here's a good quote from Dave Tate, often quoted by the powerlifting crowd*:
"Bodybuilders get a rough ride from everyone else in the iron game. Powerlifters scoff at their meager strength levels (at least compared to them), while the functional training types snicker at the woeful athleticism some off-season bodybuilders display when asked to sprint up a flight of stairs or move a sofa.
And nothing draws more criticism from the rest of the iron world than the bizarre narcissism exhibited by some of bodybuilding's real bad apples. Ever notice that the businesses with the most mirrors are hair salons, bridal dress shops, and hardcore bodybuilding gyms? There's a reason for that.
But before you get carried away with the bodybuilder bashing, consider another thing. The most muscular mother****ers on the planet are bodybuilders.
An elite-level powerlifter might squat 800-plus and bench 600, but how many would have the quad and biceps size to even make a dent at a pro bodybuilding show?
No type of training will build muscle like bodybuilding training. Bodybuilders are obsessed with their craft, and if a modified powerlifting program was the ticket to winning a show, then the powerlifting dungeons would be overrun by shaved dudes in string tank tops.
It seems like almost every coach, lifter, or trainer thinks they have so much to teach, but very few try to see if there's anything they can learn in return. If you want to build muscle – and at some point, you all should – you should shut your face and listen to the bodybuilders. They just might have something you can learn from them."
It's Not Just a Numbers Game:
The Bodybuilding mentality is to continually monitor and assess what you're doing and the aesthetic result it produces. Then, make changes based on what you need to improve, not blindly continue to do every exercise known to man. Delts lagging? Do more shoulder work. Waist too thick? Drop the core exercises for awhile.
You also need to know when to start viewing numbers on the weight plates as just decorations. Again, progression - or using more weight or more reps - is a fundamental principle in both strength and hypertrophy, and should not be ignored. But once you've reached a certain level of development, it is also time to consider exactly how an exercise "feels". Are your pullups hitting your lats the way you want? Are you getting enough quad stimulation out of your squats? You can't just focus on the numbers. The weight now becomes just one of a few factors to consider. Often, it may be beneficial to actually lower the weight so that you can hit the muscle in just that right way.
Again, a quote from Tate*:
"So for the next few months...I began training Rick's way, which entailed cutting the weights I used by up to 50% and focusing on feeling the muscle contract.
Whenever I pissed and moaned about seeing my poundages plummet, Rick would remind me that the muscle doesn't know if it's pushing or pulling 400 pounds or 40 pounds; all it knew was if it was getting trained or not.
At first I had a real hard time with this, but after a while it was cool to see how I could absolutely destroy my chest with 70-pound dumbbells when before I was blasting away with the 150s. And I started to grow, big time.
Suddenly, I had biceps, triceps, hamstrings, and calves. My chest started to get shape and I could finally feel my lats working during chin-ups, pulldowns, and rows."
Full Body vs. Splits
The beginning "muscle" athlete, whether a bodybuilder, powerlifter, olympic lifter, strongman, or even the lowly "gym rat", coming from an untrained state, needs to first focus on just getting some muscle on the bones. Again, this is where the big compound exercises come in. There's just nothing more efficient for packing on the size (along with the proper diet). There isn't too much of a need to focus on every little muscle when you look like you just woke up from a 6 month coma.
But, when you start reaching the intermediate stage, where you've packed on some good muscle, and where linear progression from week to week is becoming more difficult, then is the time to start the walk down the road of your individual goal. For bodybuilders, this is where splits start coming in. Splits allow you to begin to utilize more exercises and start working on your body more as individual parts, and not just as a whole.
Here's a thread I put together awhile back on Full Body vs. Split Routines.
"Good bodybuilders have the same mind when it comes to sculpting, than a sculptor has. " -Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pumping Iron.
Let's talk facts. You're 100 pounds soaking wet today. You're not going to be on the bodybuilding stage this year. Nor the next. In fact, it may take you 5 or 10 years or more to get there. This isn't a sport for those with attention deficit disorder, or a lack of consistency. In fact, consistency, over time, is probably the most important single factor in the game (followed closely by intensity and obsessive-compulsiveness). You need to calibrate your mindset. It's going to take time. It's going to take work. And you're not going to make it happen over night. Don't try to keep the throttle at 120% all the time just to get to the end of the game faster. It won't work.
It helps to realize that you will only get so big, or so strong. I don't say that to imply that people shouldn't put forth full effort and intensity or to adopt a lackadaisical mindset, because that certainly won't get you there either. I mention it because if you maintain consistency you're going to get to the same end point. If you realize that you will get to your goal if you're just consistent, you don't sweat the small stuff as much.
The better path is to settle into a bodybuilding lifestyle. Start with a good beginner's program. Build mass. Gradually up your workload and begin targeting different muscle groups to develop the particular aesthetic you're going for. Think. Re-assess. Find what works, and ditch what doesn't. Get your diet in line. Maintain forward progress. Do research. Question everything. Learn.
Think for yourself.
04-05-2012, 08:08 AM #1
Want to look like a Bodybuilder? Train like a Bodybuilder.
Last edited by VoxExMachina; 04-05-2012 at 08:38 AM.☠ By reading this post, you have agreed to my negative reputation terms of service.
04-05-2012, 08:14 AM #2
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04-05-2012, 09:05 AM #10At first I had a real hard time with this, but after a while it was cool to see how I could absolutely destroy my chest with 70-pound dumbbells when before I was blasting away with the 150s. And I started to grow, big time.
Suddenly, I had biceps, triceps, hamstrings, and calves. My chest started to get shape and I could finally feel my lats working during chin-ups, pulldowns, and rows."
04-05-2012, 09:33 AM #11
04-05-2012, 10:07 AM #12
04-05-2012, 10:46 AM #13
04-05-2012, 11:27 AM #14
Quotes from Dave Draper:
You don't lift weights for a season. You lift weights now, then, again and again, once more, another time, every time, today, tomorrow and for good. Between workouts, while you rest and repair, you think of working out, hoping, planning and scrutinizing and planning and hoping. Then it's back to the iron and steel, sets and reps, perseverance and persistence, discipline and patience and pain and doubt. Sameness and repetitiveness, oh my.
You're in this for the long haul. Today time is your friend, not your enemy. Be supple, be confident, relax. Learn through your own experience, observe, ask questions, and read. Remember, most of what you read in the mags is filler to surround the outrageous pictures that bring us hysterical advertisements for stuff we don't need to do, what we could never do - fast, quickly, now.
Good nutrition, like good training, is simple — learn the basics and practice them consistently. A little knowledge and a lot of discipline is the secret. Apply yourself diligently; look ahead, don't look back and don't look for shortcuts. There simply aren't any.When alone, hoping and doubting and resting, you don’t crank open a beer and chomp on a dog: You pop the top on a can of tuna and slug some water. Your spare time and menu are dedicated to supporting your input and output in the weight room. In my sparkling experience, tuna ’n water is the choice of champions. Water is that clear revitalizing tonic from heaven and tuna fish are, of course, finned angels.
Weight training doesn't end with straining on the gym floor. It continues at the feasting table, abstaining, restraining and containing what you eat, how much, when and why, consisting of multiple, carefully-placed high-protein, low-carbohydrate meals daily: no Italian pizza, no Danish pastry, no French fries, no Mexican beans, no Chinese rice, no Japanese sake, no German beer, no Russian vodka.
Few weight-training aspirants have the ability to gain muscle mass quickly. I know of none, personally. Set your sights on gaining muscle mass over an extended time frame and settle in for the seasons. Increase the workload and increase the food intake relative to your current training. Allow for the bulk and some loss of vascularity and keep your focus on the power increase and the freedom of dietary minutia. You're seeking mass to build muscle maturity through time and consistent, heavy training. It involves sacrifice that you must approve. Find a weight that is agreeable, presentable, and comfortable — bigger but not sloppy — and stick with it until you slowly harden and define. Be ready to work hard and long.
I've observed men and women who aimed to gain weight and muscle size. When construed as a struggle it was a struggle; approached as a challenge, it was challenging and thought of as a project to be completed, so was it completed. Don't force it, follow the rules, avoid frustration and dismiss temporary disappointments. Use the mirror and scale judiciously and on good days only. Give in to neither conceit nor self-flagellation.
Before sculpting and defining, the sculptor needs ample granite upon which to work his chisel and sledge. Practicing lean diet schemes and training regimens is reasonably healthy and develops wire-tough muscle, but does nothing to put on enviable size. You must prepare the block; you need to eat heavier and train heavier... without becoming a donut.
The perfect candidate for getting ripped is someone who has already established a foundation of large and dense muscle through some years of valiant training -- the guy or gal who's applied the grip of discipline and gnawed on the root of persistence. That well-fed person is ready to cut loose on a wild change of pace, pick up speed and fly, shed some bulk and let 'er rip.
Want to uncover where these came from? http://www.davedraper.com☠ By reading this post, you have agreed to my negative reputation terms of service.
04-05-2012, 11:32 AM #15
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I love it, and I vote sticky. I especially like hearing how a master powerlifter like Dave Tate can appreciate the training methods of bodybuilding and respect the differences between the two training methods.
I find that some people on this forum tend to be confused by powerlifting vs bodybuilding training methods. They tend to think that developing a great muscular body is all about getting strong in their compound lifts. It certainly helps to have strong compounds, but there's so much more to our training methodology, and newcomers should be able to see that by reading this thread.Follow me on:
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04-05-2012, 02:57 PM #21
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04-05-2012, 03:10 PM #22
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I'm glad somebody made this thread.'People are gonna remember me as a god forever... Like-like-like Troy, like Chiles heel, I'm a god forever I'll be remembered for thousands of years to come' - Jason Genova
Texas Method Mod: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=171537443&p=1444534723&viewfull=1#post1444534723
04-05-2012, 03:24 PM #23
04-05-2012, 03:30 PM #24☠ By reading this post, you have agreed to my negative reputation terms of service.
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04-05-2012, 03:45 PM #26
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Very good read.
Should be a sticky :PDriven Sports Craze Review: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=144676431
Pre-Workout FAQ and Information thread: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=144588521
Weight gainer help and FAQ: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=145111141
04-05-2012, 04:16 PM #27
Well, I hope someone listens when you say this. I know for damn sure nobody salutes when I run it up the flag pole
Some other things I would add:
1) No matter what your goal, progressive overload is your friend... and that means you have to get stronger. I'm not talking about improving your 1RM, I'm talking about moving more weight in whatever rep range you hang your hat on. If you like 20 rep squats, fine. You need to get stronger on 20 rep squats! Bodybuilders get so bent out of shape when you try to talk strength gains, like you just cornered them in a gym and tried to get them to slip into a double-ply squat suit Regardless of your pursuits in the gym, getting stronger is the answer.
2) Your body isn't a homogeneous thing. Different muscle groups will respond to different rep ranges and intensities. So while Dave Tate talks about the changes he experienced, the answer isn't always going to be "drop the weight and focus on the muscle." Sometimes the answer is going to be load up the bar and quit being a ninny. As Vox stated, everything is a tool in your tool box. Don't assume that a bodybuilder never has need for low rep/big weight work. Neither should powerlifters ever assume that they only need low rep/big weight work. It's the weight lifting equivalent of a Reeses Cup. Argue all day about whether you got your reps in his heavy weights, or his heavy weights in your reps... JUST GET THEM BOTH IN!
3) If you want to be a bodybuilder, a HUGE portion of that is diet controlled. Spend as much time figuring out your diet as you do in the gym, if not more. I don't mean for this to sound rude, but bodybuilding comps are really to judge who the best dieter is. Fine, you can pose and strut, blah blah blah... so can I. Hell, building muscle isn't an issue either. I see tons of guys with nice aesthetic physiques. You know who doesn't win? The guy with too much body fat, regardless of how beautifully symmetrical he is.
4) That actually reminds me... *IF* you are a bodybuilder, practice posing! I'm talking WAY before you step on stage. I'm a logical guy, and logic dictates to me that you should practice how you play. Aside from diet, posing is really your performance measure, right? That tells me that you should be practicing those rear double bicep poses, and holding them. Think that's not a workout all by itself? Watch how long a pro holds those poses, muscles tensed from fingers to toes. It's staggering how difficult that is, especially when you aren't just showing your biceps, but the lats, hamstrings, spinal erectors, calves... I'm also willing to wager that all that posing time will have a direct and positive impact on your mind/muscle connection. Want to train like a bodybuilder? You aren't doing it right if you aren't posing (speedo not required, unless you want to. I'm not here to judge )
*** As an aside: I'll also guess that a lot of Dave's amazing chest development comes from getting away from geared lifting, and not training like a powerlifter all the time (chains, bands, 3 board presses, etc). It's probably neither here nor there for guys that go in and have a normal un-supported bench press routine and haven't spent a good portion of their lives pursuing some freakishly specific goal. Not saying he doesn't have a point, but consider the source a bit.GoRuck Challenge Journal: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=150446113
"No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." -Edmund Burke
"Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also." -Marcus Aurelius
04-05-2012, 08:10 PM #28
Tate references dropping the weight in order to get better targeting, MMC, etc. That is not to imply that bodybuilders have no business trying to keep getting stronger. Ultimately getting bigger also involves getting stronger.
In the course of a complete bodybuilder career, there are times for pushing to get stronger while focusing strongly on compound lifts, times to work on physique aesthetics, etc. Using the "right tool in the box" encompasses exercises, program, rep ranges, volume, & diet.☠ By reading this post, you have agreed to my negative reputation terms of service.
04-05-2012, 08:41 PM #29The more that you read, the more things you'll know.
The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
04-06-2012, 12:07 AM #30
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