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Isolation Exercises Needed?

Are isolation exercises really needed in a training program or can you just stick to the basics.

This ought to be a good thread…(sarcasm)

Needed not necessarily if you develop evenly from compound movements only. Many don’t and will develop imbalances in the long term.

That’s an extremely loaded and individual question. It also depends on the goal in mind.

Since this is the “Bodybuilding” forum, then if the primary goal is to build a symetrical, muscular, and aesthetic physique, then I’d say that yes, SOME isolation work is necessary, at least for the majority of the population.

Many isolation exercises are basic for bodybuilding.

exactly what is an isolation exercise. Please tell me one that can isolate a single muscle.
necessary? no. Beneficial? sure

[quote]jp_dubya wrote:
exactly what is an isolation exercise. Please tell me one that can isolate a single muscle.
necessary? no. Beneficial? sure[/quote]

Leg curls, regular curls, skull crushers, leg extensions, lat pulls downs done in a specific way, ect. These are considered isolation exercises as opposed to bench squats deads farmer walks dips. Charles Poliquin and Milos have a lot to say about isolating the muscles.

Are the muscles totally isolated? No but I just checked your profile so you probably already know this.

There are techniques also to further isolate muscles. It comes down to form on a lot of them.

I’m sure they’re ‘necessary’ for body-building competitors. As for others who lift weights for fitness/health/aesthetics, my opinion is that the majority of isolation exercises (i.e. laterals, leg curls, leg extensions) are not necessary and may actually be counter-productive in some ways.

=================
from jeff gaynor’s page (jqhome.net/taiso/the-problem.html):

Isolation exercises make you slow. Every muscle that fires, called the agonist, has an opposing muscle called an antagonist. If there are not trained together and the antagonist is quite a bit weaker then it must fire longer to oppose the agonist. This is just like having a worn brake shoe on your car, you have to hit the brakes sooner to slow down. While proper training avoids this, the odd fascination most people have with big pecs, biceps and quads mean that these are practically all that are trained.

Isolation exercises make you weak. When a muscle is in use (called in this case a prime mover) it needs to have muscles that act as stabilizers. If the stabilizers are weak then the body will not allow the prime mover to contract at full power less there be an injury. This more than anything else explains why someone can, say, bench curl some enormously high weight but has trouble using that motion in other contexts.

Isolation exercises can train your muscle to misfire. The most famous example of this is the leg curl machine. The hamstring is made to straighten the hip when bent, although it also can bend the knee, being one of the few muscles that can act on two joints. This machine mis-trains the hamstring to do leg curls which can lead to a higher incidence of hamstring rips. Sure, it makes the hamstrings get bigger, but you’d better not be planning on using them for much of anything else.

===================

biceps? sure, but use a barbell or dumbbells, avoid the preacher. that is, if you want functional strength.

[quote]Hagar wrote:
Many isolation exercises are basic for bodybuilding.[/quote]

Bingo!

Shrugs, Curls, Tricep Extensions, Side Laterals, Ab Isolation, Calf Raises, and even flys are pretty crucial for bodybuilders.

A lot of pre-hab exercises are isolation exercises too. Everyone who works out needs to isolate their external rotators and their rear delts if they want good posture.

[quote]esr71 wrote:
I’m sure they’re ‘necessary’ for body-building competitors. As for others who lift weights for fitness/health/aesthetics, my opinion is that the majority of isolation exercises (i.e. laterals, leg curls, leg extensions) are not necessary and may actually be counter-productive in some ways.

from jeff gaynor’s page (jqhome.net/taiso/the-problem.html):

Isolation exercises make you slow. Every muscle that fires, called the agonist, has an opposing muscle called an antagonist. If there are not trained together and the antagonist is quite a bit weaker then it must fire longer to oppose the agonist. This is just like having a worn brake shoe on your car, you have to hit the brakes sooner to slow down. While proper training avoids this, the odd fascination most people have with big pecs, biceps and quads mean that these are practically all that are trained.

Isolation exercises make you weak. When a muscle is in use (called in this case a prime mover) it needs to have muscles that act as stabilizers. If the stabilizers are weak then the body will not allow the prime mover to contract at full power less there be an injury. This more than anything else explains why someone can, say, bench curl some enormously high weight but has trouble using that motion in other contexts.

Isolation exercises can train your muscle to misfire. The most famous example of this is the leg curl machine. The hamstring is made to straighten the hip when bent, although it also can bend the knee, being one of the few muscles that can act on two joints. This machine mis-trains the hamstring to do leg curls which can lead to a higher incidence of hamstring rips. Sure, it makes the hamstrings get bigger, but you’d better not be planning on using them for much of anything else.

===================

biceps? sure, but use a barbell or dumbbells, avoid the preacher. that is, if you want functional strength.
[/quote]

Some of this might be true but this was posted in a the bodybuilding section not the strength sports section. I happen to love preacher curls. So does Larry Scott and Charles Poliquin. Regular curls make my biceps look like shit.

I’ve been doing hamstring curls for years and never had a problem.

[quote]FightingScott wrote:

A lot of pre-hab exercises are isolation exercises too. Everyone who works out needs to isolate their external rotators and their rear delts if they want good posture.
[/quote]

Good point on the pre-hab exercises. My father tore his ACL and was required to isolation work.

To further add isolation exercises are an important tool to build symmetry.

For modern competitive Bodybuilding ? : Yes

For Strength sports ? : Maybe, depends on individual and situation

[quote]Hagar wrote:
esr71 wrote:
I’m sure they’re ‘necessary’ for body-building competitors. As for others who lift weights for fitness/health/aesthetics, my opinion is that the majority of isolation exercises (i.e. laterals, leg curls, leg extensions) are not necessary and may actually be counter-productive in some ways.

from jeff gaynor’s page (jqhome.net/taiso/the-problem.html):

Isolation exercises make you slow. Every muscle that fires, called the agonist, has an opposing muscle called an antagonist. If there are not trained together and the antagonist is quite a bit weaker then it must fire longer to oppose the agonist. This is just like having a worn brake shoe on your car, you have to hit the brakes sooner to slow down. While proper training avoids this, the odd fascination most people have with big pecs, biceps and quads mean that these are practically all that are trained.

Isolation exercises make you weak. When a muscle is in use (called in this case a prime mover) it needs to have muscles that act as stabilizers. If the stabilizers are weak then the body will not allow the prime mover to contract at full power less there be an injury. This more than anything else explains why someone can, say, bench curl some enormously high weight but has trouble using that motion in other contexts.

Isolation exercises can train your muscle to misfire. The most famous example of this is the leg curl machine. The hamstring is made to straighten the hip when bent, although it also can bend the knee, being one of the few muscles that can act on two joints. This machine mis-trains the hamstring to do leg curls which can lead to a higher incidence of hamstring rips. Sure, it makes the hamstrings get bigger, but you’d better not be planning on using them for much of anything else.

===================

biceps? sure, but use a barbell or dumbbells, avoid the preacher. that is, if you want functional strength.

Some of this might be true but this was posted in a the bodybuilding section not the strength sports section. I happen to love preacher curls. So does Larry Scott and Charles Poliquin. Regular curls make my biceps look like shit.

I’ve been doing hamstring curls for years and never had a problem.

[/quote]

Actually, I’d have to say that just about all of the above quote (Jeff Gaynor’s) is a load of crap.

Isolation exercises make you slow? Laughable. Hope he enjoys living in the 1960’s.

Isolation exercises make you weak? Tell that to Mariusz Pudzianowski.

Hamstring curls lead to an increased incidence of tears? Where is he getting that data from? What generally leads to tears on the field are either overworked muscles or a lack of flexibility, not doing a specific exercise. And what does he mean “one of the few muscles that can act on two joints”? I can actually name quite a few; biceps brachii, triceps, rectus femoris, gastrocnemius (to a degree anyhow).

Functional strength? Well, let’s not even open that can of worms. :wink:

They are an excellent complement to compound movements, they help bring weaknesses up to par, they help correct imbalances and they add variaty to training. My training is about 75-80% compunds and 20-25% single joint exercices.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
<<< Functional strength? Well, let’s not even open that can of worms. :wink: [/quote]

COME ON, ya know ya wanna. It’s been over a half hour since that one was last beaten to death, I think were due.

EDIT: BTW, you are correct in your assessment of this guy’s misinformation campaign. There are some reasons why some people would be wasting their time with smaller movements for the most part, but none of the ones he gives are them. IT,s also getting to the point lately where you can set your watch by the “iso vs. compound” threads around here. This is about the fifth one n the last couple weeks.

People ask about so called isolation movements as if they were asking about a career choice or something else where a wrong decision, if there were such a thing on this score, could have lifelong detrimental consequences.

I’ll tell ya what, today is shoulders, chest and tris day. In a little while I’ll do my workout which will include some tricep and lateral delt movements and I’ll check back in afterwards and let everybody know whether my life is ruined or not.

[quote]Sentoguy wrote:
Hagar wrote:
esr71 wrote:
I’m sure they’re ‘necessary’ for body-building competitors. As for others who lift weights for fitness/health/aesthetics, my opinion is that the majority of isolation exercises (i.e. laterals, leg curls, leg extensions) are not necessary and may actually be counter-productive in some ways.

from jeff gaynor’s page (jqhome.net/taiso/the-problem.html):

Isolation exercises make you slow. Every muscle that fires, called the agonist, has an opposing muscle called an antagonist. If there are not trained together and the antagonist is quite a bit weaker then it must fire longer to oppose the agonist. This is just like having a worn brake shoe on your car, you have to hit the brakes sooner to slow down. While proper training avoids this, the odd fascination most people have with big pecs, biceps and quads mean that these are practically all that are trained.

Isolation exercises make you weak. When a muscle is in use (called in this case a prime mover) it needs to have muscles that act as stabilizers. If the stabilizers are weak then the body will not allow the prime mover to contract at full power less there be an injury. This more than anything else explains why someone can, say, bench curl some enormously high weight but has trouble using that motion in other contexts.

Isolation exercises can train your muscle to misfire. The most famous example of this is the leg curl machine. The hamstring is made to straighten the hip when bent, although it also can bend the knee, being one of the few muscles that can act on two joints. This machine mis-trains the hamstring to do leg curls which can lead to a higher incidence of hamstring rips. Sure, it makes the hamstrings get bigger, but you’d better not be planning on using them for much of anything else.

===================

biceps? sure, but use a barbell or dumbbells, avoid the preacher. that is, if you want functional strength.

Some of this might be true but this was posted in a the bodybuilding section not the strength sports section. I happen to love preacher curls. So does Larry Scott and Charles Poliquin. Regular curls make my biceps look like shit.

I’ve been doing hamstring curls for years and never had a problem.

Actually, I’d have to say that just about all of the above quote (Jeff Gaynor’s) is a load of crap.

Isolation exercises make you slow? Laughable. Hope he enjoys living in the 1960’s.

Isolation exercises make you weak? Tell that to Mariusz Pudzianowski.

Hamstring curls lead to an increased incidence of tears? Where is he getting that data from? What generally leads to tears on the field are either overworked muscles or a lack of flexibility, not doing a specific exercise. And what does he mean “one of the few muscles that can act on two joints”? I can actually name quite a few; biceps brachii, triceps, rectus femoris, gastrocnemius (to a degree anyhow).

Functional strength? Well, let’s not even open that can of worms. :wink: [/quote]

Why do we always cite people who are using truckloads of juice as evidence that isolation work doesn’t make someone small or weak?

However, I wouldn’t fuck with the Penn State linebackers at my school and they do a lot of isolation work…

As usual, it always comes back to genetics and goals.

Athletes probably don’t need to isolate as much, except in support of the big movements (like powerlifters).

Bodybuilders want to isolate a lot due to their goals; building individual muscles in specific proportions to each other.

But for athletic purposes, the research and evidence of the benefits of functional training compared to doing too much isolation work is out there. Another thing is that if muscles are going to be isolated in an athletic setting,
they should at least be free weight isolation movements (to train stabilizers).

Let me ask a question. How many people absolutely DO NOT have time for a few minutes of smaller movements after their mainstay regimen of big money exercises? I ask this because the only truly legit reason I can think of for the outright avoidance of smaller movements is if somebody actually does not have the time. I suspect this constitutes about .01% of the population.

For sports specific competition/performance goals no doubt smaller movements make much less sense, but even in those instances I just ain’t buyin that they’re going to harm anybody. Sports specific trainees have my nod when they say they have little use for isolation exercises. Same story for strength goals on the whole as well. However for the lion’s share of people who come here at least SOME smaller movements make sense as Sentoguy said at the top. Build your routine on a foundation of big compound exercises with some smaller support work and I can’t see how you can wrong.

The thing that still kills me though is how some guys act like their testicles will fall off or something if they touch a hammer strength machine or anything with a cable attached to it.

[quote]dhuge67 wrote:

Why do we always cite people who are using truckloads of juice as evidence that isolation work doesn’t make someone small or weak?
[/quote]

Why whenever someone cites an athlete who is strong and does isolation work does someone always cry “steroids”? :wink:

Seriously though, in this day and age it’s hard to find professional athletes who are not the genetic elite and who don’t use some sort of performance enhancing substance (be it legal or illegal).

Agreed.

[quote]
But for athletic purposes, the research and evidence of the benefits of functional training compared to doing too much isolation work is out there. Another thing is that if muscles are going to be isolated in an athletic setting,
they should at least be free weight isolation movements (to train stabilizers). [/quote]

I think the key phrase here is “too much”. I am not arguing that compounds are important, nor am I advocating doing only isolation work, or even building a program with isolation work as the foundation. But, to suggest that isolation work isn’t productive isn’t an accurate statement either.

As far as the free weight debate, I’m all for free weights where applicable and safe. But, to suggest that building strength with machines won’t improve performance isn’t necessarily true.

Probably the best example that I know of to date of athletes using only machines for their strength training and still getting some damn good results is the case of the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

From 1971-1973 the Dolphins performed all of their strength work with legendary bodybuilding coach Arthur Jones (the inventor of nautilus and one of the first if not the first proponent of HIT training). If you don’t already know, in 1972 the Dolphins became the only NFL team to EVER go undefeated since the invention of the Super bowl.

Now, might they have had some fantastic talent on that team? Oh hell yeah. But, have there been teams since then that also had tremendous talent? Yes. Does the fact that they trained with Jones automatically mean that it was this detail that allowed them to go undefeated? Possibly, but not necessarily.

It does however provide some pretty damn strong evidence that strength training with machines at the very least does not hinder performance on the field, and quite possibly (if done correctly) improves it.

Good training,

Sentoguy

how do barbell curls make the biceps look like shit?

[quote]Tiribulus wrote:
Sentoguy wrote:
<<< Functional strength? Well, let’s not even open that can of worms. :wink:

COME ON, ya know ya wanna. It’s been over a half hour since that one was last beaten to death, I think were due.

EDIT: BTW, you are correct in your assessment of this guy’s misinformation campaign. There are some reasons why some people would be wasting their time with smaller movements for the most part, but none of the ones he gives are them. IT,s also getting to the point lately where you can set your watch by the “iso vs. compound” threads around here. This is about the fifth one n the last couple weeks.

People ask about so called isolation movements as if they were asking about a career choice or something else where a wrong decision, if there were such a thing on this score, could have lifelong detrimental consequences.

I’ll tell ya what, today is shoulders, chest and tris day. In a little while I’ll do my workout which will include some tricep and lateral delt movements and I’ll check back in afterwards and let everybody know whether my life is ruined or not.[/quote]

LOL, no I’d still rather not open the “functional” can of worms, we’ve both seen where that leads and if someone wants they can dig up one of the old threads about it (there have been some good ones) and read that thread. Like you said, it’s been beaten to death too many times to recall. :slight_smile:

I also agree with the whole “isolation vs. compounds” debate. Since when were the two mutually exclusive entities? Why does one have to do just one or the other? And why do people seem to feel some sort of pride for not doing isolation exercises?

What’s worse are authors like the this Gaynor fellow. Now, I know that CW isn’t a big fan of isolation work either (or at least his more recent programs don’t utilize it), but it’s not like he’s telling people that it’s harmful or bad. This Gaynor’s material isn’t only inaccurate, it’s misguiding beginners away from exercises which could potentially benefit them as well as filling their head with misinformation that’s only going to spread to more people and hinder their progress as well.

Good luck on the chest,shoulders and triceps workout. I did triceps pushdowns today and so far no catastrophes have befallen me, so you’ll probably be okay. :wink:

Good training,

Sentoguy

Dig into this one boys n girls. Really starts crankin on the second page. Man was that a blast:

http://www.T-Nation.com/tmagnum/readTopic.do?id=1434500&pageNo=0