Compound movements are monstrous exercises that exert a lot of energy, hence why doing these first is probably a smart idea. Exercises such as a squat, deadlift, bench press or a row uses many muscles and therefore performing these at the start of your workout will mean you have more energy to complete each set. Since compound movements are associated with muscle growth and burning fat, this is another reason why these are deemed perfect exercises to start with. Putting these in the middle or at the end of your workout could mean fewer results because you have less energy to perform them, or do you?
To make this easier to picture let's look at your leg training sessions and analyse whether doing a compound or an isolation exercise is best to perform first. The squat rack is usually the first port of call when you are training your legs because this exercise is very hard and uses a lot of your muscles to complete each repetition. I understand that for many of you, working the major muscles first in big compound movements makes sense and means you will make the most gains. The squat is amazing for working the quadriceps, hamstrings, glute muscles and lower back. It is great for core stability and working other stabilising muscles within your body. However, what if you didn't decide to start with a squat and instead you used the leg extension machine?
Leg Extension Machine Before Squatting
Instead of hitting the squat rack first, what if you decided to start your leg session with a gruelling warm-up on the leg extension machine? Isolation exercise before a compound exercise, baffled? Don't be! An isolation exercise before a heavy compound movement like squats can actually help increase a greater lift through the squat because of the amount of oxygen and blood flow delivered to the muscles. The leg extension only isolates the quadriceps so you might want to do a superset with the leg curl machine to also work the hamstrings. Performing 3-4 heavy 15 repetition sets can really work the legs muscles so that you get a good pump in them.
Obviously this style of training can be applied to other muscle groups and doesn't just need to be used with leg training. Pre exhausting the muscles by performing isolation exercises can help improve strength and power, especially if you are stuck on a particular weight on your compound exercise! Some of you may not like this style of training because you may feel weaker when it comes to your heavy lifts, others though may prefer it. For me, I love performing some isolation exercises before my heavy lifts, I feel more warmed up and I have a good amount of pump in the area I am about to work. Give it a try and see how you feel :)
On heavy days like this, I also like to use a pre-workout supplement so that I am focused and ready to give it everything I have got. A pre-workout supplement like PhD VMX2 is awesome and it delivers a good amount of caffeine, arginine and beta-alanine to the muscles. What do these do? Well, they all help concentration, strength and endurance and for a day where you are going in hard, I simply cannot be without it!!