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Does Isolation Strength Transfer to......


....... big lifts?

In short: does, for example,the strength you will gain from let's say a lying DB triceps extension (or tate press) increase your strength in presses? Or curling strength to chins? Okay....not 20 RM, going for the pump, etc, but heavy.

Why I'm asking: 1. I've injured my shoulders and back, so for a while I'll have to stick to triceps extensions as my sole "pressing" movement...also, in order to not suffer from withdrawal symptoms from not being allowed to military press, dead, squat, clean, I'll start doing reverse curls...

  1. My bis are about 1.5 times stronger than my tris, and I read that the it should be the other way around. Anyway, my arms are small, but my tris are truly pathetic. Also, whenever I press, my shoulders seem to take all the load...

Must mention that for the last year or so I didn't do any isolation arm work, having read that it is only useful for bodybuilding...and it has no transfer to overall strength (strength is movement specific...yada yada...muscles must work together..etc.)
Health, Vlad


How's this for a vague answer...It might. The reason I say this is that it depends on where your weaknesses lie. Let's say we're talking about the bench press. If your triceps are already capable of doing more work than your chest (you get stuck on the bottom portion of the lift) then no amount of triceps isolation is going to help your bench as you'd just be strengthening the strongest link in your chain.

If however, you strengthened your chest via isolation movements then sure your bench should go up.
If I were you, I'd think about where my weak points were and focus on those until you feel you can get back into doing the compound lifts.


I think it should.

Westside uses some isolation movements. The whole idea is strengthen weak points.

So if your bench is weak due to your triceps, the tate presses would strengthen this weak point, which would in turn, carry over to your bench.


I'm pretty sure it does. Many powerlifters with high deadlifts only deadlift heavy once every two weeks. They train their hamstrings with GHRs and posterior chain with good mornings. Albeit good mornings aren't isolation, they're not as intense on the entire body as deadlifts are. If triceps are a weak point, training them will bring up your bench press.


Exactly. Also, most likely it's not just biceps or triceps but their certain heads that get left behind.


I think muscle strength is muscle strength.

If it is used in a lift and you have the motor coordination and stabilizer strength, a strong muscle will have more to offer to the lift than a weak one.

You may have to allow stablizers or coordination to catch up in order to fully utilize their strength.

That's my guess.


I agree with what was said above, but I think the more complex the movement the less it begins to carry over.

Something like a clean and jerk is a lot about technique


How does one tell where their weakness is in the bench? Tri, bi, chest, how does one tell?


Determined by sticking points. If you can get past a certain point with assistance to complete the rest of the lift, then you're weak in those muscles most active at the point where you were stuck.


Thanks for your answers.

So, basically, considering my arms are incredibly weak in isolation, (and in general) curls/extensions should help... Also, after looking through an anatomy of the muscular/skeletal system I just found a new hobby, anatomy :))
A more stupid question now, I guess: would stronger tris and shoulders help with punching harder? (again, considering arms are the weakest link)
I don't care how little, but if at all.
Health, Vlad


Where did you read this? My biceps are a bit stronger than my triceps also, when comparing isolation exercises like lying db extension vs concentration curl. I thought this was natural.


Thanks, but can you expand on this? I get "stuck" about 3/4 of the way, in other words, I can't quite finish the lift. I have no problems getting it up off my chest, I just can't quite finish.

What muscles would be might "weak point" at this stage?


Well, last part of the bench is called lockout, and it uses mainly tris. One advice everyone on this site gives is doing board presses. Also Tate presses and heavy triceps work. :smiley:
Health, Vlad


I think the term strength may be a little misleading here... Isolation movements are usually quite a bit better at increasing the ROM of which a certain muscle is used. Conversely, the actual stress in terms of force on that muscle probably never reaches the point it does with heavy pressing movements but the greater ROM with moderate reps equates to more volume which will stimulate more hypertrophy of these muscles which will in turn give the opportunity of greater strength when the heavy loads you see in presses are placed upon these muscles...


It's your triceps. The chest muscles perform the lift at the lower end, after about half way your triceps take on most of the load. Your sticking is there so whallah! you need to do some dips or other tricep dominant exercises (kickbacks don't count) if you want to work on your week point.


Well for bench, if you are weak coming off the first half of the lift, then your chest is holding you back. If you can get the lift half way, but still at the lockout, your triceps would be the weak point.

Biceps, I'm not too sure.

Hope that helps


Thanks for the help. I've been doing dips and pullovers, but I guess I'll increase my tricep work and see if my bench improves.


You must also take in to consideration that there will be a difference when training muscle groups in isolation- tris, pects and front delts, as compared to training a movement pattern-bench pressing.
In isolation, there will be a much stronger signal going to a single muscle or unilateral movement than with a bilateral movement or movement pattern.
So, even if you do isolation work, make sure you are also training a movement pattern. You whon't get as big a bench if you are doing just flys and dips or press downs than you will by doing the actual movement.


You can also train those triceps specifically for benching, by doing doubles with a lighter weight. Doubles are when you do a half rep to every full rep.

So you'd lower the bar all the way down to your chest, then press it to lock-out, lower to the half-way point, press to lock-out, then lower back down to chest and repeat.


I havent seen this mentioned yet:

A bigger muscle has potential to be a stronger muscle.

So if you focus on increasing the size of your tri's it will definatly have potential in increasing the strength of your triceps in compound pressing movements.