You’ve set your goals, and you know the areas of your body that you want to target, but where do you go from there? Which exercises are most beneficial to you?

Virtually any exercise can be placed into one of two categories: compound or isolation. A compound exercise uses multiple muscle groups and multiple joints at the same time. An isolation exercise, as the name suggests, targets a specific muscle group and makes use of a single joint.

Compound exercises are abundant—even something as simple as walking or running works multiple areas of the body at once. More structured compound exercises include squats, which engage your quads, core, hamstrings, glutes and calves; the bench press, which targets your chest while also incorporating your shoulders, triceps and core; and the deadlift, which works almost every muscle group in the body!

Isolation exercises are much more focused. These can include exercises like bicep or hamstring curls, triceps, leg extensions, calf or front raises or chest flyes. Each of these movements puts focus on one particular muscle area while utilizing one moving joint.

So which type of exercise is best for you? The simple answer is a mix of both. Since compound exercises offer the most value to your day-to-day life, they are often the best way to start until you’ve built a solid routine. If you are beginning your fitness journey, it’s best to start with a variety of compound exercises to strengthen the body before you focus in on isolation exercises. You’re working a variety of muscles that will increase your body’s overall strength, mobility and balance; however, isolation exercises have their place as well.

Targeting specific muscles can help to strengthen an area that you feel is weaker than other muscle groups in your body, or they can be used to effectively limit the stress or impact on overworked areas of your body or when rehabilitating an injury.

The best workouts will consist of a variety of compound exercises that consistently work all major areas of the body and complementing those with isolation exercises that target specific areas that you want to improve and strengthen. By implementing a balanced workout, you’ll have the best chance of hitting your health and fitness goals.