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What is an isolation exercise?

Hi everyone,

Has everybody had a good month new goals and spring is around the corner!

Are you all coping well with your fitness programmes? Have you been brave enough to try any new exercises this week?

Last weeks email was about the importance of compound exercises in our routines. This week we look at the benefits of isolation work.

1. What is an isolation exercise?

An isolation exercise is any exercise in which only one major muscle group is trained by itself. Typically, the movement is done in such a way where usage of all other muscle groups is avoided, which leaves one muscle group isolated and able to do all of the work.

2. How do I know if I’m isolating the muscle?

Basically, if an exercise involves raising (frontal or lateral raise), curling (bicep curl or hamstring curl) or extending (tricep kick back), it’s usually training just one major muscle group, and that makes it an isolation exercise.

3. Why am I not as strong with isolation exercises?

Isolation exercises isolate muscle groups so they are trained by themselves. This means you’ll typically be using MUCH lower amounts of weight, which in turn means there won’t be anywhere near as much consistent progression, which in turn means the potential for results won’t be nearly as high as with compound exercises.

4. So why don’t we do loads of isolation work during our sessions?

In general, compound exercises allow you to create MUCH more of the right type of training stimulus & fat burn than isolation exercises can. And for this reason (and many other less important ones), compound exercises beat isolation exercises by a fairly large margin for most clients and their goals.

So which exercises are the isolation ones?

Flat, Incline or Decline Flyes Muscle Group Trained: Chest

Lateral Raises or Front Raises Muscle Group Trained: Shoulders

Biceps Curls Muscle Group Trained: Biceps

Triceps Extensions Muscle Group Trained: Triceps

Leg Extensions Muscle Group Trained: Quads

Leg Curls Muscle Group Trained: Hamstrings

Calf Raises Muscle Group Trained: Calves

So isolation work has its place in our workouts. Throwing in a few bicep curls, lateral raises & tricep extensions will be beneficial but don’t’ start cutting out squats and bench press (compound) because bicep curls are easier! Squats are evil for a good reason!

See you soon


“Don’t complain...just work harder”

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