T Nation

One Move for Bodybuilding Each Muscle?


Hey CT and others.

If you could only pick one move for each bodybuilding muscle isolation exercise what would it be?

I’ll start

Chest- Powerflyes (bent arm chest flye until the elbow touches the ground)
Lateral delt- Lateral raise
Front delt- Seated front raise to overhead, pronated
Rear Delt- Rear delt machine

Quads- don’t have any I like due to excessive knee strain feeling
Lats- I don’t focus on my back as it grows very easily with compounds
Hamstring/glutes- glute ham raise (technically not iso but w/e close enough)

Biceps- Hammer curls
Triceps- V-bar pressdowns

Calves- don’t train but I suppose seated calf raise

Abs- Ab wheel


My personal picks:

Chest: undecided between low-incline barbell bench and high-to-low cable press. You basically combine the movements from a decline press and flyes on a cable crossover machine.

Lateral delt: I have always been able to hit both my front and side delts insanely well and equally with barbell overhead press only. High-rep lateral raises would be my pick if I had to choose an isolation movement.

Front delt: Same as above. I’ve found Scooby’s way of doing bent-arm db front raises to be the best in my case.

Rear-delt: Band pullapart. End of story.

Quads: I haven’t done any isolation work for quads in ages. Due to structural issues of my left knee, there’s only a handful of extension machines that don’t put any strain on them and sadly the only one in my town is in a gym that sucks otherwise.

Hamstrings: Unilateral leg curls are holy.

Biceps: If you have bands, put a light band on a very heavy dumbbell and position it in front of a scott curl bench so that it doesn’t give you much resistance when starting the movement. Once I got this working, I have utilized bands in every single bicep workout since. If bands are not an option, spider curls are awesome. These can be done with an incline bench without bracing your triceps against it or if your scott bench has a straight pad on the opposite side, brace your triceps against it to make the movement even more effective.

Triceps: Cable pressdown with a wide grip. I got these from a video where Ed Coan explained he liked training triceps with the same grip he uses while benching. I tried them and found that they hit my triceps like no other movement.

Calves: Standing calf raises if I have to name something. I haven’t trained mine in 4 years.

Abs: Ab wheel and standing cable crunches are awesome.


For me, and understand that this is HIGHLY individual because of differences in leverages and training experience… just because I’m the “expert” do not assume that these are the absolute best choices.

Pectorals: pec deck machine or cable cross-over with the pulley starting a should height and doing the movement close to the body

Lats: straight-arm pulldown with supinated grip or pullover machine if you I can find one

Mid-back/rear delts: bent over DB lateral raise

Medial deltoid: lateral raise slightly in front not going higher than shoulder joint (actually staying a bit lower)

Front deltoid: barbell front raise turning the elbows up when you lift

Biceps: preacher curl

Triceps: Rope triceps extension spreading at the bottom

Quadriceps: I actually like single-leg extensions

Hamstrings: single-leg curl

Traps: Rope shrugs (even though the stack is getting ligth, even with an added 25lbs plate so I squeeze every rep 3 sec)

Calves: never did calves in my life


Could you elaborate on ideal rep ranges and intensity techniques each muscle responds best to regarding hypertrophy?


Why is it that pullover machines have disappeared?


I have no idea, it really is a shame because the first and 2nd generation nautilus pullover were the best machines invented