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"Doing more exercise with less intensity,"
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Compound Movements for Older Trainers


Armed Forces - Europe

Some of the recent discussions on the subject of higher reps particularly for older ie 40 plus trainers led me to think about another related issue.
Has anyone out ther dropped compound movements as they got older?
Does anyone train exclusively with single joint movements.
I would love to hear some opinions on this.
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Dennis Rogers

New York, USA

At 53 and many years of training I have come to focus on pre-exhaust which in essence is a focus on single joint movements .Training very hard still appeals to me and I'm convinced that is necessary.

In a conversation not long ago with Joe Mullen he commented on how he felt single joint movements were superior and I agree.
The idea that I can use a heavier weight with copound movements is not significant because I see that the overload on the intended muscle is not over its full range of motion .

The big consideration is that in a compound movement there is no resistance in the fully contracted position.It makes sense to me to overload thru the full range but I think the fully contracted top position seems to be key.
Plus I can isolate-put more energy into the target muscle with single joint movements . I just think I've smartened up -nothing to do with different training requirements or limitations at 53.Itensity is still the key...
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New York, USA

100% agree with Dennis.

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Honing in on 47 next month I continue to use and progress on compound movements. As Jones himself once said, something along the line of... why use a spoon to do a job a shovel does better!
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Compound movements obviously generate a much greater metabolic response than isolation/single joint movements. So buck for buck compounds will always triumph. Isolation movements have their place. As Dennis states, one of the greatest advantages is pre-exhaust work.

All that said, I believe trainees of any age should stick to compounds as much as posible to utilise the benefits. Having experimented with may programmes and rep ranges, etc, I'm convinced compounds can form the basis of any exercise routine regardles of your goals, i.e. strength, hypertrophy, fat loss.

The perennial issue with compounds is usually rooted in poor form. For example, overloading a bar for squats, bouncing, excessive forward leaning, etc, are all dangers. This is far less of an issue for, say, leg extensions.
But, as stated above, buck for buck squats are going to trigger a greater metabolic response.
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At nearly 65, I find better results and joint/tendon health by doing single joint movements first most of the time - and better pump, depth of muscular intensity. I've certainly not dropped compounds. After direct work, the compounds result in exactly what AJ discussed with pre-exhaust - target muscle being the weakest link.

But I don't always stick to that. First, single joint with lats is rather difficult. Using JC Predator tubing gets some great single joint to lats - using an incline bench to approximate the kind of movements gymnasts do on rings, or using hanging leg raise straps to do pulldowns through the elbows.

For shoulders, once a week (work them twice weekly), I may open with higher rep Matrix sets doing seated barbell or dumbbell presses. Have switced upright rows to after single joints, and always with low pulley to keep weight down and intensity up.

For legs, it's either leg extensions, dumbbell squats or dumbbell hack squats for openers. What burns - yikes!

Hamstrings? Some times leg curls first, other times good mornings first, but dumbbell deep deadlifts always last.

For back, I like to start with horizontal choppers using the Predators, reverse hypers with a stability ball on a bench.

just a few ideas.
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Texas, USA

I don't think this is an either-or argument. Both compound and isolation movements have their benefits.

I currently do 5-6 exercise per workout and limit my compounds to 2-3 of the movements. Any more compounds than that and I'd hit a wall very soon.

Poor form can only be blamed on the trainee, not the exercises.

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Sorry for another post on the same topic. But I omitted one element I feel is of paramount importance. When doing compounds, I put special attention on the mind-muscle connection meaning I'm not all out heaving the weights but having the target muscle contract it through full range of movement. That somewhat lessens resistance while greatly intensifying concentration in the mental dimension. And it sure keeps injuries away.
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California, USA

simon-hecubus wrote:
I don't think this is an either-or argument. Both compound and isolation movements have their benefits.

I have a tendency to agree with Scott. The ratio of compound/complex to single joint/isolative is relevant to your goals.

As a generalization Compound would relate more to functional movement patterns, and Isolative would be for more aesthetic (bodybuilding) goals due to the imbalance to "training the chain".

simon-hecubus wrote:
Poor form can only be blamed on the trainee, not the exercises.

Poor form is precisely relative to the goals of the trainee and meeting them, NOT some "grandfathered" generalized image to be followed for all training purposes.

It is VERY EASY to project generalized training "ideals" to all training elements without the awareness of the specific goals of that training.
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