Weider´s training principles: The isolation principle

 
Several muscles can be trained as a unit or isolated and trained individually. All muscles are involved more or less in every movement – either as stabilizers, agonist, antagonists or synergistic. If a particular muscle is to be built up, it needs to be exercised as separately as possible from the other muscles.

The isolation principle

 
The main focus for isolation work is to concentrate fully on using the main muscle to move the weight.
 
Main Muscles Worked: The muscles that are used the most during the exercise.
Secondary Muscles Worked: Muscles that assist the main muscles in the exercise.
Stabilizers: Muscles that are not worked by movement, but rather assist in stabilizing the body in addition to the weight of the exercise.
 
Let´s analyze the Barbell Curls, for example:
Main Muscles Worked:
  1. Biceps Brachii
Secondary Muscles Worked:
  1. Brachialis
  2. Brachioradialis
Stabilizers:
  1. Deltoid, Anterior
  2. Trapezius, Upper
  3. Trapezius, Middle
  4. Levator Scapulae
  5. Wrist Flexors
 
Some people often make the mistake that isolation work is useless and a full compound routine is all one needs to build muscle. While compounds are the quickest way to work your body, they fail to fully exhaust the muscles. This is where isolation work is needed.
While a compound workout is faster, isolations will better target each individual muscle, resulting in a complete workout. This puts more stress on the muscles, and thus makes them grow better than a full compound workout.
 

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of An All Isolation Workout?

Results: Put in simpler terms, it will give you maximum muscle growth. When body parts are neglected they won’t be able to grow. Isolation movements give you the ultimate edge. You get to hit the muscle group that couldn’t be hit with compound movements, or it wasn’t hit as good and that’s why it’s lacking.

Completely exhausting a muscle. Compounds work multiple muscles at once, yet it is impossible to work each of those muscles to its max with a single compound exercise. One muscle will tire out before the other. Thus the only way to get a complete workout with compounds would be to do a compound exercise for every muscle in your body. And that is not feasible due to energy and time. This is where isolation work shines, each muscle can be worked to its maximum potential that does not take an extreme amount of time or more energy than one has.

Fewer opportunities for injuries: Injuries can arise in all types of workouts, but they are much less common in isolation exercises. This being because compounds are more intense than isolations. They use several muscles at once, which greatly opens the door for one muscle overpowering another, thus resulting in a pulled muscle. Examples are the “Big 3”: squats, deadlifts, and bench press. Squats and deadlifts put a great deal of pressure on your spinal column while bench press puts pressure on your chest and shoulders at once, often contributing to a pulled muscle if the barbell slips.
 
Fitness woman doing exercises on white background
 

Who Would Benefit From Using An All Isolation Workout?

The people who gain the most benefit from an all isolation workout would definitely be people looking for a symmetrical body.
Others who would benefit from an all isolation workout would be older people who may not have the strength or bone support to do squats, deadlifts, bench presses or pull-ups.
Also for beginners, who may not know correct form for the big compound exercises or have enough strength to perform them, would benefit from an all isolation routine.
There are not many people that can do pull-ups on their first day in the gym or can do a set of squats in proper form. An isolation workout would give these people an introduction to weightlifting before they start doing the more advanced exercises. Whatever the reason, an all isolation routine has its place.

10 thoughts on “Weider´s training principles: The isolation principle”

  1. This is awesome advice. I do a full body workout three times a week, but unfortunately I am visibly more muscular on my dominant side. It’s a subconscious thing that I’m trying to work on, but maybe an isolation work out would solve my problem.

    1. Thank you 😀 In this case, you should work each side of the body separately, with dumbbells. Start on the non-dominant side every set and exercise. The non-dominant side should set the pace. For example, you plan to do 12 reps of biceps curls but your non-dominant side is exhausted at 10. It’s OK. Then you should perform only 10 reps on your dominant side 😉
      Hugs,
      David

  2. Pingback: Dumbbell Chest Fly - Chape Fitness

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Abs

The Rectus Abdominis is the most superficial of the abdominal muscles. It is this muscle which forms the six-pack shape! It is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the abdomen. There are two parallel muscles, separated by a midline band of connective tissue called the linea alba.

Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi is the larger, flat, dorsolateral muscle on the trunk, posterior to the arm, and partly covered by the trapezius on its median dorsal region.

Deltoids

The Deltoid muscle is the muscle forming the rounded contour of the shoulder. It is divided into three portions, anterior, lateral and posterior, with the fibers having different roles due to their orientation.

Infraspinatus

The Infraspinatus muscle is one of the four rotator cuff muscles crossing the shoulder joint and is commonly injured. It is the main external rotator of the shoulder joint.

Biceps

The Biceps brachii is  actually two separate bundles of muscles (heads). The two heads of the Biceps vary in length and as a result, are called the Short and the Long Biceps heads.

Triceps

The Triceps Brachii muscles  have three muscle heads: Lateral, Medial and Long head. Primarily responsible for the extension of the elbow joint. The lateral head is used for movements requiring occasional high-intensity force, while the medial fascicle enables more precise, low-force movements.

Forearm
(Anterior muscles)

The Pronator teres pronates the forearm, turning the hand posteriorly. If the elbow is flexed to a right angle, then pronator teres will turn the hand so that the palm faces inferiorly. It is assisted in this action by pronator quadratus.

Forearm
(Posterior muscles)

The Extensor Digitorum muscle helps in the movements of the wrists and the elbows. It extends the phalanges, then the wrist, and finally the elbow. It acts principally on the proximal phalanges. It tends to separate the fingers as it extends them.

Pecs

The pectoralis major makes up the bulk of the chest muscles in the male and lies under the breast in the female.

The pectoralis minor is a thin, triangular muscle, situated at the upper part of the chest, beneath the pectoralis major. 

Obliques

The External Oblique is situated on the lateral and anterior parts of the abdomen. It is broad, thin, and irregularly quadrilateral. It is the largest and the most superficial (outermost) of the three flat muscles of the lateral anterior abdomen. 

Lower Back

The Erector Spinae is not just one muscle, but a bundle of muscles and tendons. Paired, they run more or less vertically. It extends throughout the lumbar, thoracic and cervical regions, and lies in the groove to the side of the vertebral column.

Glutes

The gluteal muscles are a group of three muscles which make up the buttocks: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The three muscles originate from the ilium and sacrum and insert on the femur. The functions of the muscles include extension, abduction, external rotation, and internal rotation of the hip joint.

Quadriceps

The Quadriceps Femoris is the knee extensor muscle.  As a group, the quadriceps femoris is crucial in walking, running, jumping and squatting. It´s subdivided into four separate “heads”.

Hamstrings

A hamstring is any one of the three posterior thigh muscles in between the hip and the knee (from medial to lateral: semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris). The hamstrings are quite susceptible to injury.

Lower Leg

The gastrocnemius and the soleus form what we know as calf. They are involved in activities such as walking, running, jumping… 

Trapezius

The trapezius is a broad, flat and triangular muscle. The muscles on each side form a trapezoid shape. It is the most superficial of all the back muscles.

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