In order to maximize the benefit of resistance training it is important to first choose exercises that give you the most overall benefit. Compound exercises refer to the involvement of more than one joint per movement and all muscles in between making them more functional, while Single Joint exercises do as the name implies. For example, a squat is a compound movement because it utilizes the ankle, knee and hip joint in addition to stabilization from the torso, while a bicep curl will emphasize the elbow joint. By having a firm Compound movement base in your workouts your overall caloric expenditure will be greater, strength will increase and daily activities will be more efficient, since they mimic most daily movement.
Examples of Compound movements are: squats, lunges, deadlifts, overhead presses, push-ups and pull-ups.
Single joint exercises should not be avoided but rather considered a compliment to Compound movements. Examples include: bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, chest flies, hamstring curls & calve raises.