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Strength Training – Multi-Joint Exercise Vs Isolation Exercise

Strength Training – Multi-Joint Exercise Vs Isolation Exercise

Well, where do I begin with this topic? I think I’ll start by saying that the proof is in the pudding! I have been training athletes and hardcore taxpaying citizens that workout like they are possessed for about 8 years now. One thing that I have learned in training everyone of these people is that the overall biggest results are achieved through large muscular movements. However, there is something to be said for single-joint or isolation exercise.

Multi-Joint Exercise: This is where you execute a lift or exercise by involving more than one joint therefore impacting many muscle groups at one time. By doing this more force is applied to the body. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, if you do a push-up you are primarily using the upper-body to do the greatest amount of work, but not without help from the rest of the body by tensing up. This tension creates tremendous strength and increases your exertion level for greater results.

Isolation Exercise: Unlike multi-joint exercise isolation exercise or single-joint movements involve only one joint therefore impacting primarily only one muscle group. Notice that I said primarily one muscle group and not ONLY one single muscle. The truth is that it is physiologically impossible to purely isolate a single muscle. So this is where tension can still have a large effect on a specific area of the body that may be lagging in terms of strength or muscular development. However, if a person is in the beginning stages of an exercise program I wouldn’t waste a lot of time on standing arm curls or leg extensions. If the person could use some extra bicep work then standing curls are good, but he or she should be instructed to grip the bar with force and to stand straight and tighten up the rest of the body in the process.

Remember to balance your multi-joint and single-joint movements in your program, but I would concentrate on the multi-joint. Also, be creative and dynamic and take the time to find out how.

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I’m Brandon Richey the Strength and Conditioning Pro!



I'm a Certified Strength And Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and author. I have had over 17 years experience in MMA fitness, strength and conditoning, and athletic performance for most every sport. As an author and specialist I've written close to a million words on fitness and strength. I'm also a Muay Thai practictioner and enjoy helping others to reach their peak potential through fitness and performance.

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