Strength is something that is built over time, but to get the most gains from your time spent in the gym you need to employ the right combination of movements. Although there are many approaches to getting strong, multi-joint movements are the keystone to building a rock solid functional strength foundation.
When it comes to resistance training, there is a general divide between compound exercises and isolation exercises.
Isolation exercises consist of movements that focus on loading one muscle group by employing a one joint movement such as bicep curls, leg extensions and front raises.
Compound exercises refer to exercises that make use of more than one muscle group by employing multi-joint movements such as overhead or shoulder presses, pull-downs, dips, lunges, push-ups, squats and rows.
Both single joint and multi-joint exercises have their place in a strength regime. However, if you want to build functional strength then look more closely at the fundamental movements performed by martial arts practitioners, strongmen, powerlifters, weightlifters and CrossFitters.
While each sporting code may differ in ends, a common means of building a stable functional strength is the utilisation of compound, multi-joint movements. Multi-joint exercises are superior because they are geared towards constructing a body that has been adapted in relation to everyday movements.
But it goes beyond just getting strong. Lets look at 5 reasons why multi-joint movements are beneficial in terms of strength, weight loss, time spent in the gym and safety.
1. More muscles work simultaneously to build a stronger body: The complex biomechanical nature of multi-joint movements forces the recruitment of a wider array of muscles to mobilise and stabilise. To produce the kind of muscular force needed to complete heavy compound lifts or to move your body-weight through space, your whole body must be engaged. This produces a system-wide effect and the systemic stress overload helps the body to take advantage of the produced hormones - Growth Hormone and testosterone - that enhance protein synthesis and promote muscle growth. The adaptation to this kind of functional stimuli is sure to offer greater benefits in terms of body composition.
2. Burn more calories: Multi-joint exercises result in an increased metabolic rate, which translates into more fat loss. By following the right diet to maintain muscle mass, you can develop a lean, strong body with an increased resting metabolic rate (RMR). This enhances increased fat-burn and supports an effective weight loss program.
3. Reduced risk of injury: By activating a variety of muscle groups simultaneously, you create a harmonious pattern that promotes safety as you workout. This decreases the risk of injury during exercise as well as increases the functionality of the body in relation to day-to-day stresses.
4. Time efficient: By employing multi-joint movements in your strength workout you can become more time efficient in the gym. Gone are the days of spending more than an hour and a half slogging away at developing the picture-perfect body. Combining two compound movements and one isolation exercise for each muscle group can reduce your time in the gym to less than 40 minutes!
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