Only compound exercises are worth doing, right?
This is not always true. In some cases, it may be best to isolate muscles.
Yet, many fitness experts criticize isolation exercises. We are often told that isolation movements are a waste of time.
But, contrary to popular belief, you are not forced to choose between isolation and compound. Isolation can often help you target specific muscles in a way that compound exercises do not.
In this article, we will explore how isolation exercises can help you get the results you seek. Let’s get started!
Why You Should Isolate Muscles
Compound exercises are very effective at building a strong, cut body. They enable you to work several muscle groups at once.
But that doesn’t mean that you should never isolate muscles. Maybe you have a weak muscle that needs to catch up. The last thing you want to do is injure it while doing heavy compound lifts.
Isolation exercises allow us to do the following:
- Strengthen weak muscles
- Work a specific muscle when another one is injured
- Do more reps when the rest of the body is exhausted
- Prevent the overdevelopment of secondary muscle groups
Because isolation exercises force you to focus on specific muscles, you will not be able to left as much weight as with compound exercises.
However, that’s fine. This is why you get the compound movements out of the way first. After that, you can challenge a specific part of your body with isolation exercises.
Just remember: Start your workouts with compound exercises and finish with isolation exercises. This will help you take advantage of the benefits of both types of movements.
How to Isolate Muscles in Your Arms
Everyone wants big, strong, ripped arms. It is one of the first things that people notice about you. The good news is that your arms feature some the best muscles to isolate.
The muscles that most people want to grow are the biceps. But your biceps actually have two heads, hence the “bi” in the name. The biceps are comprised of the short head and the long head.
If you want to isolate your lower biceps, preacher curls are the best way to go. You can use either cables or a curl bar to do this exercise.
For targeting the upper bicep, you want to use concentration curls. This will allow you to push the upper part to its limits and get a nice pump going.
As for isolating your triceps, you can try tricep extensions using dumbbells. Additionally, you can throw in some tricep kickbacks to switch things up.
Your compound movements such as military press and deadlifts usually hit your forearms pretty hard. However, if you need to isolate your forearms for grip strength, you can do wrist curls or use hand grippers. Just watch out when working out when using heavy weights with your wrists, as they are very susceptible to injury.
How to Isolate Muscles in Your Legs
Legs are a huge muscle group. Therefore, there are countless ways to isolate specific parts of your legs. But we shall discuss just a few of the best options you have.
If you want to isolate your quads, you should try leg extensions. You can add this to the end of your workout, after you get done beating up your legs with compound movements like squats.
You have several ways to target your calves. You can do dumbbell or barbell calf raises, or you can use a Smith Machine to replicate the same movement. Another option is the seated calf raise.
Some people want to add size or definition to their backside. If you want to target your glutes, you can use one-legged kickbacks. You can also do a body exercise called the bridge, which does not require any equipment.
For your hamstrings, you can do either lying leg curls or seated leg curls. Feel free to choose the one that works best for you. Just make sure your warm up your hammies before pushing them to the limit.
How to Isolate Muscles in Your Chest, Back, and Shoulders
A great way to isolate your chest is by using dumbbells. In particular, you should focus on dumbbell flyes. Though flyes also activate your shoulders and biceps a bit, they are still considered an isolation exercise. You can also use cables to do flyes, if that is what you prefer.
You can use the straight-arm pulldown to work your upper back, otherwise known as your lats. This will eventually give you that wide look.
For your middle back, you can incorporate the middle back shrug, and your lower back would benefit from back extensions.
If your aim is wide shoulders, you can do some side laterals to front raises. You will intimidate anyone you come across if you pair wide lats with wide shoulders.
How to Isolate Your Abs
You probably want to be able to take your shirt off in public and feel proud of your beach body. Maybe you already have good abs but you want to take them to the next level.
Compound exercise will help you build your abs. But if you want to take your abs to the next level, you may have to set aside time to isolate them.
A great way to challenge yourself is to introduce hanging knee raises into your routine.
For those who have been training for longer, take it one step further and go with the hanging oblique raises to work your obliques.
In the end, we can see that there are several benefits to isolation exercises. It is far from useless to isolate muscles. Sometimes, isolation exercises can help you develop a lagging muscle, and other times it can help you avoid injury.
We now also know that it is unnecessary to choose between isolation and compound exercises. Though most of your workout should involve compound movements, you can isolate muscles at the end of your routine.
When you create a personalized fitness program, you have to put your goals on paper first. By setting clear goals you can move on to selecting exercises that help you accomplish them.
Use the isolation information above to craft your perfect workout routine and get the results you crave. If you are looking to get your fill of knowledgeable fitness content, check out more at our blog.