00 – Lift ClassificationsPosted: December 10, 2013
Primary: A primary exercise is the main lift you will perform for this muscle group, or this lift patter. For example, the squat is your primary lift for your quads and the bench press is your primary lift for your pectorals.
Alternate Primary: An effective training program will include enough variety in the training to overcome your body’s adaptation. Alternate primary exercises are lifts you can substitute in your program for primary lifts to continue your training progress. You can also use these exercises as Supplemental exercises.
Supplemental: Supplemental exercises help you target the muscle group with additional training volume once you finish your primary exercise. Generally they will isolate the target muscle more directly. For example, leg press targets the quads more directly than squats.
Assistance: Assistance exercises help you add additional volume to muscle groups that may need more work, and to finish off the muscle that you’ve already nearly exhausted with the primary and supplemental work. Assistance lifts are often isolation exercises, and generally much less effective when worked independently.
Explosive: These exercises are intended on improving your explosive power and speed. The focus on this exercise is to complete each rep faster and more explosively, versus on increasing the weight move or increasing muscle size.
Compound: A compound exercise is one that attacks a muscle group across multiple joints. For example, the bench press affects the pecs across the shoulder and elbow joints, and squats affect the quads across the hip and knee joints. Since the work crosses multiple joints, compound exercises typically affect many muscle groups. A good training program includes a vast majority of compound lifts (80% is a good rule of thumb).
Isolation: An isolation exercise is one that affects a muscle group across a single joint. These exercises isolate that muscle group so all of the effort to complete the lift is accomplished by the target muscle. Good examples of isolation exercises are hammer curls for the biceps and skull crushers for the tricps. Isolation exercises are most effective to finish off a muscle after it’s already been exhausted by your compound lifts.
Primary: The primary muscle group is the main muscle used in a lift. For example, the pectorals are the primary muscles engaged in the bench press.
Secondary: Secondary muscles are those that assist directly in the lift. For example, the triceps are secondary muscles used in the bench press.
Stabilizer: Stabilizers are muscles that support a lift, but are not directly involved in the eccentric or concentric components of the lift. They help stabilize the movement of the lift. Examples are the lats and biceps during the bench press. They help you stabilize the weight as you lower the bar to the chest, and press it off the chest, but they do not directly exert force on the bar.