Studies show that compound movements often result in similar levels of muscle activation when compared to isolation movements – this specific study found that the bench press had similar levels of chest activation when compared to dumbbell chest flyes. The bench press also caused this activation over a longer period of time than flyes. This means that, especially for beginners, isolation exercises are not necessary in a training program.
Source: Welsch, E. A., Bird, M., & Mayhew, J. L. (2005). Electromyographic activity of the pectoralis major and anterior deltoid muscles during three upper-body lifts. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 19(2), 449.
From being a mediocre athlete, to professional powerlifter and strength coach, and now to researcher and writer, Charlie combines education and experience in the effort to help Bridge the Gap Between Science and Application. Charlie performs double duty by being the Content Manager for The Muscle PhD as well as the Director of Human Performance at the Applied Science and Performance Institute in Tampa, FL. To appease the nerds, Charlie is a PhD candidate in Human Performance with a master’s degree in Kinesiology and a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. For more alphabet soup, Charlie is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), an ACSM-certified Exercise Physiologist (ACSM-EP), and a USA Weightlifting-certified performance coach (USAW).