isolation exercises

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work of art
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isolation exercises

Post by work of art » Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:27 pm

Are isolation exercises really needed or can you just stick to the basic compound lifts.Im trying to use my time wisely in the gym and get the most bang for your buck so to speak.A good example is why would i waste my time isolating my quadriceps with leg extensions when i can work my glutes,hams quads,and lower back with the squat does that make sense or am i just crazy.


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Post by Matt Z » Tue Dec 04, 2007 5:43 pm

It makes perfect sense. For example, I haven't done biceps curls or triceps extensions in a long time, and I've yet to see any negative effects. My arms are as big as they ever were and I'm still getting stronger.

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Post by recmatt » Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:28 pm

One of the advantages of compound exercises is that you can use much heavier weight than in isolation exercises. However it depends on your goals. If you are training for overall strength and conditioning compound exercises are all you need but if you are a competitive bodybuilder you will probably need some isolation work.

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Post by DeadFrog » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:20 pm

Use isolation exercises to supplement your routine.

For instance, I'll do some rows, later in my routine I have some high rows for the rear delts, and then later still I'll use one set of incline dumbbell bicep curls to really finish off the biceps. They are completely done after that.

Overall, use the isolation stuff to finish off the smaller muscle groups after they are done helping you work out the larger muscles.

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Stephen Johnson
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Re: isolation exercises

Post by Stephen Johnson » Tue Dec 04, 2007 11:25 pm

work of art wrote:Are isolation exercises really needed or can you just stick to the basic compound lifts.Im trying to use my time wisely in the gym and get the most bang for your buck so to speak.
In most instances, isolation exercises aren't absolutely essential. But smaller bodyparts should be trained with isolation exercises if you have the time. The biceps, for example, are the ultimate vanity muscle. Many hardcore strength athletes don't do bicep "curls for the girls" since they dismiss it as bodybuilding. That could be a mistake for them:
Many competitive powerlifters, Olympic lifters, and strongmen "types" correctly put their primary training efforts into the exercise movements that allow them to compete well, stimulate maximal tissue growth with each movement, and/or which work the musculature specific to the skills of their activity. Squats, pulls, deadlifts, and presses in various positions correctly form the backbone of their programs. However, if you mention curls in any form, most recoil and the image of a slickly oiled buffed narcissist rears its ugly head. The curl in any form, barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or machine has become synonymous with bodybuilding, building one's body with the inference that it is for form or appearance, not for functional use in athletics....

...In the 1970s, a body of research and observation emerged which indicated that up to thirty percent of diagnosed shoulder injuries initiated by athletic activity were actually primary biceps injuries. As football players became larger and stronger through the 1970s, 80s and 90s, injuries to the biceps and forearms, once almost never seen, became more frequently diagnosed in NFL and college training rooms. In short, it was becoming obvious to those involved in athletics that the biceps, like many other "smaller" muscles which were often excluded in many training programs, needed to be trained in a serious manner. The barbell curl remains the mainstay but in accordance with one's training philosophy, the biceps muscle should be trained as hard and heavily as any other muscle or muscle group
To use your example, I see no reason to train quads with isolation exercises like leg extensions. The hamstrings are a different story, since they are biarticulate (two joint) muscles. The hip extension function of the hamstrings is best exercised with compound movements like deadlift variations, but the knee flexion function has to be done with an isolation exercise like the leg curl or glute-hamstring raise.


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Post by DeadFrog » Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:30 am

Amen Stephen!

I know you want to get the most out of your time in the gym, as do I. In fact, it is a major goal for me. But it's those little iso exercises which let you really progress. For instance, without wrist curls, everything else suffers (you need grip). Without rotator cuff exercises, I'm liable to hurt myself on the bench press. Hip adductor/abductor exercises have made it so easy to stabilize myself/lift more in leg presses/squats.

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Post by Halfbreed » Thu Dec 06, 2007 11:40 am

I agree that isolation exercises are a good supplement to your compound exercises. "Getting the most bang for your buck" just depends on what your goals are. If you're looking for asthetics, you're going to want to hit the isolation exercises. If you want raw power, compound exercises are the way to go, but as was mentioned, you want to do some exercises that work the smaller muscle groups, especially around the shoulder/rotator cuffs. External and internal rotations, for example, will help to minimize the risk of injury upon a heavy bench press. Doing elbows locked box step ups, focusing on pushing your shoulder in and out of its set position to get the raise will help as well. When I say in and out of its set position, I mean that, if you are stting your shoulder, you are getting it down and back, like when you set your shoulders against the bench for a power bench. Out is when you rotate your shoulder forward, like if you were pushing out, and past the movement of just your arm, you push just your shoulders around the joint forward. Also, doing a row type movement but focusing, instead of on the primary large muscle groups in your back, on conentrating the muscles around the rear delts in the back of your shoulder, will help to stablalize your shoulder in it's socket and prevent injury. Bodybuilders tend to exaggerate every portion of the muscles. For instance, hand spacing will change to get the outer/inner biceps, hand positioning and rotation will effect whether your working for a better peak, more thickness, etc. freeweights for bulk, cables for "muscle detail," etc. etc. It's greatly based on asthetics, but of course, naturally, power will come with it, but this isn't the primary goal. It just depends on what you want, and to what extent you want it, whether you do, and to what extent, you incorporate isolation exercises.

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Post by Matt Z » Fri Dec 07, 2007 9:59 am

Hmmm ... interesting quote. Still, most football players are doing a lot of squats, deadlifts, power cleans and presses ... and not neccissarily a lot of rows and chin-ups (how many 300 lb lineman can even do a chin-up). Perhaps, if they were doing more upper-body pulling movements they wouldn't need the barbell curls.

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Post by bbp » Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:43 pm

personally i use isolation exercises because compound lifting doesn't cover all the muscle groups that i need. For me heavy pressing and pulling works my chest and back quite well, but doesn't do much for my triceps, biceps or shoulders. I think that isolation exercises have a good use at fixing the "weak links" of your lifts. for example, my biceps always give before my back if i'm doing pullups, so i feel if i strengthen my biceps i will be able to do more pullups.


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