Compound vs. Single Joint Movements July 23, 2012
Compound vs. Single Joint Movements July 23, 2012

All of our movements, including exercises, occur at our joints. A joint is where two or more bones meet, such as the knee, shoulder or elbow. When we raise a cup to our mouth to take a sip, we are simply flexing at both the elbow and shoulder joints. Joints movements are made possible by our muscles pulling on the tendons that are attached to the bones.

Exercises can be classified as either compound or single joint movements depending on the number of joints used during the movement. A compound joint movement would be one where you use two or more joints as in our example of taking a sip of coffee. A single joint movement uses only one joint, and a good example would be a bicep curl.

So why do we care about compound versus single joint movements during exercise? Since muscles essentially move joints, the more joints you use in a movement, the more muscles you use and ultimately the more work you do. Therefore, if you are looking to get the most out of your workouts, it is important to incorporate more compound joint movements than single ones.

Take for example a squat versus a bicep curl. The squat is a very big compound exercise that incorporates movement at the hip, knee and ankle joints. This involves all the large muscle groups in the legs; quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteus, abductors, adductors, gastroc and soleus, not to mention all the other trunk, core and upper body muscles that are working to keep you upright and protecting the spine. Now compare this to a bicep curl, which is a single joint exercise that only requires movement at the elbow and involves the bicep brachii, some forearm muscles and maybe a little anterior deltoid.

Because compound movements use all these muscles and joints, they are usually harder and require more effort and energy. Its a good idea to perform them before doing single joint movements. For example, its probably not a good idea to tire out your calf muscles with heel raises just before you to do some squats.

Bottom line; when it comes to getting the most out of your workout, perform more compound movements and do them early on in your workout.

You May Also Like...
1381938844 Popcorn - The New Health Food?
1467922986 Don't Drop the Lemon from Your Daily Routine
1453305595 Pump It Up: These Eight Exercises Will Supercharge Your Fitness Program
1392672736 Excess Weight Linked to Brain Changes