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Isolation exercises, when to use them.

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For the last posts we´ve been talking about types of exercises, we talked about bodyweight and compound now let’s talk about isolation exercises so that we can start creating our own programs according to our goals.

Isolation exercises are single-joint movements and they work one muscle at a time so we can´t lift heavy weight with these exercises. They may not be the best option to gain strength, but they have their space on some workouts.

If our goal is to lose fat and get lean, we can create a great workout program with just bodyweight and compound movements but if our goal is to gain muscle we can add some isolation exercises to hit weaker muscles.

While for compound movements we can lift heavy weight and work on myofibrillar hypertrophy, strength and power, with isolation movements we can´t lift heavy.

If we feel like a muscle group needs more work, then we can use isolation exercises to give that muscle the extra work it´s missing. We´ll be using a weight we can lift for around 12 to15 reps, we can go a bit heavier and hit the 10 to 12 reps. In both reps ranges we´ll be working on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy range (if you want to learn more about types of hypertrophy click here).

There are so many isolation exercises and variations for every muscle group that it can get overwhelming, to keep it simple we can stick with some few exercises for 2 or 3 months so that we can see our progress, especially if we are starting our fitness journey. We need to get familiar with the movements using lighter weight before we can add more weight and that process takes time.

When we focus on bodyweight and compound movements, we may feel like some muscles are weaker or lagging and want to work them more, for this we use isolation exercises to hit those muscle specifically. 1 or 2 exercises for those weaker muscles is all we need, there´s no reason to do a lot more, if we feel like we still need more we can use some of the variables and advance techniques we´ll be talking about on future post like rest pause, failure training, drop sets, etc.

When our goal is gaining muscle we may be looking to gain muscle mass on one specific muscle so the way to do this is by adding more volume which we can do by combining bodyweight, compound and isolation exercises, we can use bodyweight and compound for heavy weight low reps and we can add 1 or 2 isolation exercises with lower weight and high reps, this way we can hit that muscle with both types of hypertrophy and add more volume.

One point that needs to be really clear is that isolation exercises isolate muscles so they work one muscle at a time this means that we won´t be able to lift heavy weight, we use them to add more volume to our workouts especially on weaker muscles, if we let our ego get in the way and we try to lift more weight we can get injured. We need to avoid all types of injuries because they can take us off the gym for a certain period of time.

We exercise at home or in the gym to build our best physique possible, one that looks great and that is useful so we don´t care about what others around us are doing, we focus on our progress on being better than the last time we did it.

All exercises we can find in books, magazines, internet, etc they all belong to one of the 3 types we´ve seen in the last posts which are bodyweight, compound and isolation but we can find so many different exercises that can be overwhelming if we try to do them all. As I´ve said before we can keep things simple by focusing on what works, we can stick to a few exercises for each muscle group and develop a great physique.

Now that we´ve talk about bodyweight, compound and isolation exercises let us know which one is your favorite by leaving a comment in our Twitter and Facebook account.

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Pam