Over eight weeks, a group of women doing only compound movements gained just as much strength as a group of women doing those same compound movements, along with additional single-joint exercises. That held true even for strength gains in single-joint lifts.
Arm circumference increased slightly (and significantly) more in the women doing additional single-joint exercises. However, the difference was tiny – a mere 3mm.
When looking at the rest of the literature on this topic and synthesizing it with decades of practical experience, it does seem that single-joint lifts can still play an important role for people aiming to maximize hypertrophy.
If you’re primarily training for strength and you’re short on time, a routine utilizing only multi-joint lifts is probably perfect fine. However, adding in single-joint training will probably aid in hypertrophy over time, especially if you choose your target muscle groups prudently by selecting single-joint exercises for muscles that may be hard (or impossible) to fully stimulate with multi-joint exercises.
Barbalho et al. Influence of Adding Single-Joint Exercise to a Multijoint Resistance Training Program in Untrained Young Women. J Strength Cond Res. 2018
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