Studying what types of exercises most effectively and efficiently elicit gains, Paulo Gentil and colleagues aimed to examine the effects of adding two single-joint exercises (e.g., biceps curls and triceps extensions) to two multi-joint exercises (e.g., lat pulldowns and chest presses) on upper-body muscle size and strength in untrained young men.
After 10 weeks of either a multi-joint training only program or a combined multi-joint plus single-joint training program, these investigators found that both training programs promoted significant increases in upper arm size and strength. There were no significant differences between the two training programs.
For young beginner lifters seeking to gain muscle size and strength, the advice is to keep it simple. A focus on incorporating only multi-joint exercises into your lifting programs can yield maximum results and give you the most “bang for your buck.” Adding single-joint exercises at this stage to a multi-joint program will not necessarily generate additional benefits.