I really appreciate the time you guys put into the Roundtables… and this entire site for that matter.
The only question I have is that based on muscle physiology, the actin and myosin only know tension. Muscle tension is absolute. In other words, the biceps contract whether you are doing chins or a barbell curl, correct?
Therefore, while I agree that the arms get plenty of work when hitting heavy, basic, compound movements, a trainee “should” theoretically see hypertrophy from a program designed around isolation exercises. Let’s say they stick to elbow-supported pull-overs (Nautilus machine) for the lats, this leaves little work for the bicep. They could then add barbell curls 2-3 X week to directly work the bicep, without over-training.
I do understand that compound exercises allow the trainee to use the most weight because they have the greatest leverage. Leverage is generally additive. This maximal loading leads to greater hypertrophy/strength gains. However, any compound movement is only as strong as the weakest link. In other words, a compound movement is like a total body workout for several muscle groups. Hence, just like body parts could be split up to train once per day/per week, I think they could also be trained with isolation movements with some decent success.
Again, if a muscle only knows neural stimulation, not direction or application, then the trainee would see hypertrophy gains with isolation movements IF the program was designed with this in mind. Same principle behind not needing to hit 7 different angles to work a given muscle. A given muscles really only needs 1 exercise per bout. Fiber recruitment is absolute.
Please don’t get me wrong - I don’t train this way, nor do I teach clients this. I ultimately agree that compound lifts are king. But, I wanted to prove a point anyway. Please give me your thoughts!